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Melanie van Leeuwen has been appointed Chair of the ICC Commission on Arbitration and ADR on 8 November 2021. Melanie had previously been a member of the Commission from 2008 to 2021, and had served as a Vice-Chair since 2018. Until now, she was the liaison officer between the Commission’s Steering Committee and the Working Group on Information Technology in International Arbitration.
GAR commented on this appointment on 8 November 2021 in the following terms:
“Van Leeuwen to chair ICC commission
Derains & Gharavi partner Melanie van Leeuwen has been appointed as the new chair of the ICC commission on arbitration and ADR.
The ICC announced today that it has appointed van Leeuwen to serve a three-year term as chair of the commission, which drafts and revises all the ICC’s rules for dispute resolution.
She takes over from Helsinki-based arbitrator Carita Wallgren-Lindholm, who announced in September that she was stepping down as chair after three years.
Wallgren-Lindholm says, “Melanie is an excellent choice for all her obvious professional qualifications. Having seen her on the job as vice-chair during my tenure I want to single out one feature that in my book characterises a good leader: courage. Melanie will speak her mind also when it may be politically inconvenient and she is not there to please. Good prospects for the commission.”
ICC International Court of Arbitration president Claudia Salomon says, “Melanie has a stellar reputation as counsel and arbitrator in arbitration but is also known as a tremendous leader and communicator, with a demonstrated and long-standing commitment to the work of the Commission.”
Alexander Fessas, secretary general of the ICC Court, adds: “I warmly congratulate Melanie on her appointment and wish her every success in her new role.”
Van Leeuwen has been a member of the commission since 2008, having served as a vice-chair since 2018. Up to now, she has been the liaison officer between the commission’s steering committee and its working group on information technology in international arbitration.
She says, “The steering committee will be focused on improving the engagement with the commission’s membership, revising our working methodologies and taking advantage of recent technological advancements. The name of the game is evolution, not revolution. I am extremely pleased to lead that charge.”
A Dutch national, van Leeuwen joined the partnership at Derains & Gharavi in Paris in 2011 after six years as counsel at Dutch firm Loyens & Loeff. She previously worked at Freshfields and Stibbe.
She has practised international arbitration for 25 years, across industries including energy, mining and construction. Earlier this year, she was instructed by India in a Dutch court challenge a US$1.2 billion award won by the UK’s Cairn Energy, before the parties reached a settlement.
As arbitrator, she is chairing a €400 million treaty claim brought by a Slovenian mining investor against North Macedonia; and a US$15 million claim against Armenia over alleged embezzlement at a real estate project. She is also hearing a US$35 million ICSID claim against Gambia over a tiger-prawn farming business; and is sitting on an annulment committee reviewing a €7 million ICSID award against Madagascar over a destroyed clothes factory.”