Paul Jebely is the contributing editor for the 2023 Chambers Global Practice Guide for aviation finance and leasing. The following passage is an excerpt from his chapter ‘Aviation for arbitration’.
In the grand theatre of global commerce, the aviation industry contributes nearly USD3 trillion to the world’s gross domestic product annually. Not only this, with its vast global operations, intricate supply chains and other interlaced systems, it also serves as a crucial artery of global commerce. It is also an industry where contractual disputes are an undeniable reality, since its daily labyrinth of international deal-making, operations and law layered with complex technical dynamics make for an environment ripe for such disputes.
Historically, the hallowed halls of justice that are various national courts of law have been the primary battlegrounds for contractual disputes within the aviation industry. Litigation (particularly that involving multiple jurisdictions and complex engineering and technical subject matter) has proven to many in the aviation industry to be ferocious, unedifying, publicly embarrassing and astoundingly expensive. It is often a process that consumes vast reserves of bandwidth and sanity. What is worse, outcomes occasionally veer into the realm of absurdity when left to the judgement of those bereft of industry-specific knowledge or – worse still – neutrality.
In many other industries, the strain of litigation has helped usher in the renaissance of an age-old method of conflict resolution – arbitration – as a preferred method of contractual dispute resolution, especially in a cross-border context. Much like a finely aged wine poured afresh, arbitration, having matured and adapted to the demands of our modern era, now offers a panoply of benefits to the aviation industry that warrant informed consideration. This is especially true in the case of specialised arbitration as now offered to the global aviation industry by The Hague Court of Arbitration for Aviation, the launch of which likely represents the single most significant legal development in the business of aviation globally since the last edition of this guide.
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Paul Jebely, Partner, Withersworldwide