How did you get started in arbitration?
In 1998, I had just left a government agency where I was the legal director. The Caracas Chamber of Commerce was looking for somebody to set up its arbitral institution. I’d previously started a government agency project from zero. I had the know-how to start a project and make it work. The first thing I did was look at other countries’ arbitral institutions to see how they worked. You don't invent warm water. It's already there; you just have to find it.
Why is arbitration important to you?
Arbitration is valuable because it's a modern way to solve conflicts. The closest thing to perfect justice is arbitration, because you get to pick who decides, you get to pick where you want it to be decided, and you get to pick which rules you want it to be decided under, which law applies to the case. It allows the parties to maneuver in order to find the best solution for their problems.
Why did you want to get involved with DRD?
I think the project is extremely useful. When DRD began, I was still in the Caracas institution, which was the first one that signed on with DRD. We signed on because we think that data and statistics are really important, especially in a world where everything is confidential. We trust Bill and were familiar with a previous research project on data he had started. In commercial arbitration, the institutions are very zealous in not divulging any of their information. DRD’s project is very good because you have the two sides of the coin—you have the institutions working on one side, and then people benefiting from the numbers on the other. They can make decisions to set up that perfect justice that I was talking about.
How do you see diverse arbitral institutions using DRD’s data?
As an institution, you can put in the statistics and you can use the tools to arrange and analyze the data. If the institution can do that with its own data, to publish on its web page, that's already one less software or system that you have to buy. That's really an advantage. For subscribers and data contributors, you get to see data from all the regions of the world. That teaches you a lot.
When you're talking to someone who heads an institution and you only have a limited amount of time, what do you most want them to know about DRD?
How useful it is. How useful it's going to be for you. How useful it's going to be for your institution, in order to have things in your home in order. How useful it's going to be for the institution to participate in this international project. How useful it is for your region. I think the most important word is “useful”. And, you need no budget. Because there are so many useful things in the world, but you need to pay for them. In this case, it's a free tool.
We’ve talked a lot about how DRD’s work will benefit institutions. How do you see subscribers using DRD’s data?
The subscribers will have information they can use to assess the risks of a case, the inclusion of arbitration clauses in contracts, and where can one get the most efficient solution to the problems. This data will also aid research in the field of arbitration.
What do you particularly enjoy about your role with DRD?
I like being able to see things through different perspectives. I think one of the best things in my training is that I've been able to oversee case management in so many cases. I've seen many situations that most people don't see. The cultural differences are also very important. I have a different perspective because I have two nationalities. I've lived in Lebanon I've lived in Paris, I've lived in the US, and I've lived in Venezuela [I bring to DRD] a window into different cultures.