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CEELM10 Interview: A Decade of Disputes in Romania

CEELM10 Interview: A Decade of Disputes in Romania

Issue 10.11
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Musat & Asociatii Partner Iuliana Iacob talks about the evolution of dispute resolution and their role as legal advisors in Romania over the last 10 years.

CEELM: Over the past decade, what types of disputes have kept your team busy? How has the nature of these disputes evolved over time?

Iacob: The last decade has seen our practice handle multiple sophisticated international arbitration cases, particularly in the construction and infrastructure, energy, and insurance sectors. In addition to these, we’ve acted in complex cases before the Court of Justice of the European Union and the European Court of Human Rights. These disputes have become increasingly challenging, reflecting the dynamic developments in Romania. The period has also witnessed the emergence of new sectors, notably renewable energy, which has brought fresh challenges.

Moreover, the local arbitration scene in Romania has undergone an extraordinary transformation. A decade ago, arbitration was less prominent, but now we see a significant increase in cases and sophistication of disputes. A notable change came in 2018 when our leading local arbitration institution modernized its rules, aligning with major international standards. The disputes we handle are complex and high-stake, involving intricate legal and contractual issues across various sectors, and we’ve seen substantial growth in cross-border proceedings.

CEELM: Reflecting on the last 10 years, what were the most intense periods for your team, and what factors do you believe contributed to these intense periods?

Iacob: Our team has been fortunate to work on a consistent stream of complex arbitration and court cases. While we experience relatively relaxed periods, typically in the summer, the periods leading up to significant filings or hearings are particularly challenging.

These times test our intellectual capabilities and require us to integrate seamlessly with colleagues across different departments, leveraging our collective expertise. The COVID-19 pandemic brought unique challenges, especially in adapting to virtual hearings and remote proceedings.

Intense periods have also typically been the weeks leading up to complex hearings in international arbitration cases and are characterized by extensive preparations. Such hearings can often span several days and involve complex expert or witness cross-examinations. They are pivotal moments in arbitration disputes.

CEELM: Concerning client needs in dispute resolution, what new expectations do you see emerging, and which aspects do you think have decreased in importance over time?

Iacob: Clients’ needs are always at the forefront of our practice. They increasingly expect not only a deep understanding of their business but also a rapid and effective response. Our approach is holistic, aiming to address their needs comprehensively. In today’s fast-paced business environment, clients value an economic and cost-efficient approach, particularly in arbitration. Our objective is to offer legal advice that fully aligns with their expectations and needs.

CEELM: From a legislative standpoint, what recurring challenges has your team faced in dispute resolution, and how have these challenges changed over time?

Iacob: When it comes to arbitration, the last decade has brought significant changes. In 2018, we saw a major overhaul in the local institutional arbitration framework. These changes generally signify positive growth and development in the field of arbitration in Romania, introducing new concepts and aligning with international standards. A key challenge for us has been dealing with multiple applicable laws in cross-border matters, necessitating a thorough understanding of not only Romanian law but also various international legal systems. This has been both a challenge and an opportunity, particularly in some of our most complex projects.

CEELM: What is on the horizon for dispute resolution? What do you believe will be the highlights in a similar interview 10 years from now?

Iacob: Looking ahead, I expect disputes, especially in sectors like renewable energy and new technologies, to become increasingly sophisticated and complex. Local dispute resolution, particularly in the field of arbitration, is poised for significant growth and heightened visibility both in Europe and internationally.

As for our practice, we expect to continue to engage in international projects and cross-border matters, handling intricate cases that involve multiple legal systems and parties from various parts of the world. The tools and methodologies we rely on are likely to evolve, incorporating new technologies. I am also confident that the local arbitration community will continue to grow and develop.

Musat & Asociatii is CEE Legal Matters' Practice Leader for Dispute Resolution in Romania for 2024 – learn more here.

This article was originally published in Issue 10.11 of the CEE Legal Matters Magazine. If you would like to receive a hard copy of the magazine, you can subscribe here.

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