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Lawyer Pierre Bienvenu. Source: LinkedIn

It’s the end of an era.

“I arrived at Ogilvy Renault in 1981 as a student, I had been a lawyer there since 1983. It is a departure that arouses a lot of sadness, because I am leaving friends behind”, relates the lawyer emeritus Pierre Welcomecommenting on his decision to leave a firm that has seen him grow.

With Norton Rose Fulbright, he pleaded before the Supreme Court in particular the major cases that have made a mark: Éric v. Lola, Hydro-Québec in its litigation against Newfoundland. the appeal on the independence of Quebec…

The decision to turn the page goes back a few years, he explains to Droit-Inc. It was because his practice in international arbitration was becoming increasingly difficult to reconcile with the practice of a firm of international stature.

He will go to IMK in July.

His departure is easily explained: “It is well known in the world of arbitration: the more interesting a case, the more important and complex the issues, and the more it risks not passing the filter of conflict of interest. . »

The difficult reconciliation

International arbitration, where Pierre Bienvenu has been working for fifteen years, notoriously involves large international groups that have dozens, even hundreds of subsidiaries in several countries. However, the firm’s strong international presence meant that one or other of Norton Rose Fulbright’s offices inevitably represented one or other of these subsidiaries.

“For 10 years, I had to systematically refuse arbitration cases. And even in cases where the firm was not present, it was the London or Milan office that asked me to pass. An arbitration file often lasting several years undermined the possibility of a national office obtaining a mandate during that time.

In short, an arbitrator who is a member of a large international firm must deal with so many potential conflicts of interest that the time comes for a practitioner to take stock and make a decision about his future. And that of Pierre Bienvenu went towards international arbitration.

The man who practices with all the major international arbitration bodies—from the International Center for Dispute Resolution to the International Court of Arbitration—finally resolved to seek a firm where he could devote himself to this practice. “Some decide to start their own business, and others choose to continue in a smaller structure. »

A conducive structure

And that’s what led him to IMK, which will allow him to practice more in arbitration.

“Two reasons led me to IMK. The first is Doug Mitchell “, continues Mr. Bienvenu. He and Mr. Mitchell have often crossed swords over the past thirty years, and a mutual respect has emerged that has attracted Pierre Bienvenu to move his household. The other reason lies in the firm’s team, renowned for its litigation practice.

“It’s a healthy, buzzing environment, and I was drawn to the youth of the team,” he continues.

A decision he thought about for a long time. “It’s been two years since I decided that I was going to focus my career on international refereeing. And that of course implies that litigation will have to be abandoned. Because if the name of Me Bienvenu is a regular on the world’s elite of arbitration, he is best known in Canada for the major cases he has pleaded.

He was one of those who developed his firm’s specialization in litigation before the Supreme Court, in addition to having been involved in an impressive number of cases that have made headlines for the past twenty years.

His practice has also led him to be one of those who brought the Société des pleaurs au Québec, the French-speaking iteration of The Advocates Society, which offers training in advocacy techniques, in preparing for a appeal and interrogation, and bringing together a range of magistrates and litigants.

Many opportunities to learn

But arbitration has several interesting dimensions for the litigant. An international arbitrator must therefore decide a case where the law of a different country applies, with different parties who have a different approach. It is therefore necessary to learn the national law specific to the case, surrounded by lawyers from several backgrounds.

Arbitration files are generally confidential, but Pierre Bienvenu can mention one to give an idea of ​​the type of file he generally handles as an arbitrator.

“I chaired the file of claims made by the owner of the Finnish nuclear power plant OL3 (in Olkiluoto); the applicable law was that of Finland, the seat of the arbitration was in Stockholm, and my colleagues in the tribunal were a Swiss lawyer and an English lawyer. »

As a rule, the two parties, two international companies, each appoint an arbitrator, and all these beautiful people agree to appoint a president of the arbitration. “Canadians have a good reputation because we know the two main legal traditions, the civil law approach and the common law. »

Pierre Bienvenu has thus participated in or chaired arbitrations in London, Stockholm, Paris and Brussels in particular, for commercial disputes in commercial aviation, the taxation of hydrocarbons, licenses in the medical sector or claims in the IT sector.

“For all of this, you need flexibility, open-mindedness, but also a certain grip and experience.”

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