Tribute to Professor Dr. Pierre Lalive, 1923-2014

The news has spread rapidly: Pierre Lalive has left us. This is a great loss: only a few had his impact on international arbitration.

As a professor in Geneva, he was one of the great artisans of the modern doctrine of private international law, and particularly of international arbitration, which gave the latter its theoretical foundations. He authored many books and articles, and was one of the fathers of the highly regarded and influential Swiss Private International Law Act of 1987, and in particular its Chapter 12 on arbitration. For many years, he was President of the ICC’s International Council of World Business Law and the Swiss Arbitration Association (ASA); he taught at several universities, including Cambridge (as Arthur Goodhart Professor of Legal Science). He greatly contributed to the promotion and development of arbitration.

Pierre Lalive was not only a theorist; he was also an extraordinary arbitration practitioner in all roles, before all institutions. Together with his brother, he founded a law firm in Geneva that today enjoys a very high reputation. His name is a quality label. As an arbitrator in innumerable proceedings, his name will be remembered in connection with awards that were milestones in the evolution of arbitration, and thus of international law and commercial practice. With a handful of others, he was the main craftsman of Switzerland’s reputation in the world of arbitration.

His ties to ICCA were long-standing. Since ICCA’s creation, he has contributed in a decisive manner, together with a few others, to make it an undisputed think tank. His interventions and contributions, always intelligent and original, frequently trend-setting, are too numerous to count. He enjoyed reminiscing about ICCA Congresses, as can be seen from his interview on the occasion of the celebration for ICCA’s fiftieth anniversary in Geneva.

Pierre Lalive was an extraordinary man: warm-hearted, intellectually alive, cultivated, charming, intelligent, a hard worker, eloquent, and most of all courageous – he certainly did not shy from expressing his disagreement and enthusiasm. Time spent in his company is not easily forgotten. He leaves us his writings and many memories, lit by his smile and his voice.

He was one of the race of giants, those who leave behind a great heritage. Our thoughts are with his wife and family, to whom we hope to convey by this means the tribute and gratitude we owe him.

ICCA, March 2014