How Victoria Associates is boosting my international practice
By Duarte G Henriques
Perhaps the biggest challenge that I face as an international arbitration practitioner is myself. As you all may know, I’m born, brought up and educated in Portugal and in Portuguese law (or, from a negative point of view, I wasn’t born or educated in an English environment).
This can represent a major hindrance for an international career. Let’s face it: in the international disputes arena, Portugal is largely peripheral; and if one doesn’t speak English at native level or if one isn’t educated in a common law system, the chances of getting appointments as arbitrator or being retained for arbitration cases located outside Portugal, are rather minimal.
You have to take the cards you are dealt and the key is to take advantage of the situation and make it into a strong point as Portugal has done in various contexts such as the United Nations and the European Union. The Portuguese are known for their willingness to leave their comfort zone and explore the world taking advantage of what it offers to those who are hardy and courageous. Our people are known to be hard working, fair and reasonable. That is why I feel so comfortable being a part of Victoria Associates.
Having invested “tons” of hours in training and developed “international” skills throughout the years (which, in any event, has brought me very interesting international cases where I’ve been acted as counsel or arbitrator), the founding of Victoria Associates has been simply spectacular.
Since the beginning of 2020, I’ve been approached a number of times to represent new clients and to serve as arbitrator in international cases. None related Portugal. No Portuguese language or seat, nor even the law of Portugal (or other Portuguese speaking countries). Truly international cases.
Just to point out two recent cases, since January 2020 I was appointed as co-arbitrator and chairman in two arbitrations seated in Hong Kong (one “institutional” and the other “ad hoc”), the other arbitrators coming from London, Perth (coincidentally two of them), Hong Kong and Singapore. The parties come from different corners of the world. English law applies to both cases. And, it goes without saying, English is the language of the proceedings.
Now, how did I accomplish that? Many factors contributed but Victoria Associates is the crowning touch, the factor which brings everything together.
Indeed, with the different international backgrounds and educations, and global reach, the members of Victoria Associates can work virtually everywhere, out of any country and under any law.
All VA members embarked on this new venture with passion: We do what we like, and we like what we do!
And share the risks and rewards with our clients.
Victoria Associates is already a tale of success, in spite of these troubled times. So it is more than appropriate to say:
Embark with us!!!