CEPANI : 50 ans au service de l'arbitrage et de la m├ędiation_2019-11-13

On the 50th anniversary of the Belgian Centre for Arbitration and Mediation (CEPANI), which has always been based at FEB, I would like to reiterate its mission, offer warm congratulations and consider some of the tasks it may face in the future.

Philippe Lambrecht, Special Advisor to the CEO
13 November 2019

The Centre was founded in 1969 under the auspices of the Federation of Enterprises in Belgium and the Belgian Committee of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC Belgium). Still operating out of FEB's headquarters, CEPANI has become Belgium's largest centre for arbitration and mediation thanks, among other things, to its professional qualities and know-how. It also maintains close contacts with foreign arbitration centres and is actively involved in promoting Brussels around the world as a place of arbitration.

CEPANI pursues two objectives. Firstly, to organise arbitration and mediation proceedings. In practice, this means CEPANI provides arbitration and mediation rules, appoints neutral experts, arbitrators and mediators, rigorously ensures that proceedings are conducted in an appropriate manner and, if need be, offers legal and logistical services.

Secondly, to actively promote arbitration, mediation and other, alternative dispute resolution methods. Accordingly, CEPANI regularly organises conferences, colloquia and study days and publishes scientific books and journals. In addition, CEPANI is actively involved in drafting legislative initiatives in this domain, though it does not serve as a neutral third party, expert, mediator or arbitrator itself.

CEPANI well deserves congratulations on reaching its 50th birthday. It has worked hard to develop alternative dispute resolution methods. It has facilitated the emergence in Belgium of arbitrators with international reputations. It has promoted the scientific study of arbitration and mediation, and put Belgium and Brussels on the map as key centres for alternative dispute resolution.

Regarding the many issues on which compromises are permitted, Section 6of the Belgian Judicial Code equates verdicts handed down by courts of arbitration with those reached by state courts. In addition, the New York Convention gives international arbitration an advantage. Many major contracts concluded between shareholders or companies, governing the sale or purchase of companies, patents, innovative processes and such like contain CEPANI arbitration clauses. Indeed, whenever a contract is concluded, some thought should be given to the possibility of it not being honoured and thus becoming a source of dispute between the parties. At such a time, it makes sense to think about the benefits of arbitration.

So it is fitting that CEPANI should celebrate its half-centenary on 13-15 November by hosting a magnificent festive and academic programme (https://www.cepani50.be/en).

Those festivities will also provide an opportunity to look to the future. In this connection, there are two things I would wish for. The first concerns the relationship between alternative dispute resolution methods and judicial decisions. As is the case in many other countries, for example in cities including Paris, London, Stockholm and Geneva, it is vital for arbitration to have the judiciary's support. Far from being opposite alternatives, courts and arbitral tribunals share the same fundamental mission: to resolve any disputes brought before them, in the fairest, most effective way. The main centres of arbitration are supported by the judicial courts, so good dialogue between the dispensers of state and arbitral justice is essential, for their mutual benefit. I would therefore urge CEPANI to continue this dialogue and fervently hope that the judiciary will become increasingly receptive. Brussels' consolidation of its status as an international legal centre is at stake.

My second, likewise encouraging, wish is that CEPANI, which pioneered the use of digital tools to conduct its proceedings, should continue to make dogged progress down this path. Providing the parties to disputes and their counsels with swift, efficient and cost-effective digital procedures is already vital and will remain so in the future. Indeed, the ability to swiftly and definitively resolve any disputes that may arise is crucial for modern businesses.

Looking confidently to CEPANI's future, I hope it perseveres in its efforts to promote and develop arbitration and mediation, for the benefit of businesses, the economy and society as a whole.

Philippe Lambrecht
Secretary General and Board Member of FEB
Vice President of CEPANI

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