V. V. ('Johnny') Veeder, Q.C. (1948 - 2020)

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of ICCA Advisory Board Member V. V. (‘Johnny’) Veeder, Q.C. on 8 March 2020. A remarkable and beloved member of the ICCA community and wider international arbitration community, Johnny’s generosity of spirit and profound kindness will be felt through our ranks for years to come.


Following studies at Clifton College, Bristol and Jesus College, Cambridge, Johnny was admitted to the English Bar in 1971 and took silk in 1986. Throughout his extensive career, he earned himself the title of one of the world’s most sought-after arbitration specialists, practising as an advocate and arbitrator in arbitration proceedings across the globe. He was known and respected among his peers for his remarkable expertise and breadth of knowledge, as well as his sense of humour.


ICCA President Gabrielle Kaufmann-Kohler paid tribute to Johnny Veeder, saying “With Johnny’s passing, we say goodbye to a truly exceptional human being and a remarkable arbitrator and jurist, as well as a radiant personality.”


Many members of the ICCA community have expressed their deep sadness at the loss of Johnny’s immense personality and kindness; the legacy Johnny leaves behind is unparalleled. Fellow ICCA Advisory Board Member Prof. Albert Jan van den Berg says, “I miss him dearly both personally and professionally- his humour, kindness and perspicacity are irreplaceable.” Meanwhile, Prof. Piero Bernardini remembers their long friendship. “[Johnny] was a colleague and friend of great legal culture but, more than that, of a sound wisdom and utmost curiosity and interest for his work, coupled with a witty approach to the problems he faced.”


In his tribute to Johnny on behalf of Essex Court Chambers, fellow ICCA Governing Board Member and long-time friend and colleague Toby Landau, Q.C. stated that: “Every step of [Johnny’s] remarkable career was infused not only with an extraordinary intellect and inspiration, but also a sense of the greater good. He was principled to the core, and genuinely concerned that the right thing was always done… As an arbitrator, however fraught the dispute might have been, he had a talent for bridging differences, and for leaving the hearing room with everyone feeling good about themselves and each other.”


It is difficult to quantify the immense influence Johnny Veeder had as a leader and dedicated contributor to ICCA over the past 30 odd years. Toby Landau has described him as a “natural teacher and scholar, with a hunger for knowledge.” This was evident in Johnny’s commitment to the Young ICCA Mentoring Programme, which he participated in as a mentor for five cycles from its inception in 2011 until 2019.


Johnny also lent his unique voice to ICCA’s publications. From 1997 to 2015, he was the ICCA Handbook author of the National Report for England and Wales, while also contributing to the ICCA Yearbook Commercial Arbitration 1996. He was a prolific speaker at ICCA’s Congresses and became known for his clear and compelling presentation and debate style.


Johnny’s involvement in various ICCA Committees from 2006 to 2018, including the Nominations & Membership, Diversity & Inclusiveness and ICCA Initiatives Committees, meant he was integral to ICCA’s development as an organisation. As Chairman of the Programme Committee for ICCA’s 21st Congress in Singapore in 2012, he was a vital part of launching the ‘renewed ICCA’ on its path of wider membership. He consistently advocated for ICCA to build on its strengths, just as he did with his students and colleagues.


As many of the arbitration community will know, Johnny Veeder had a love of history. In his oft-cited address ‘Memories from ICCA’s First Fifty Years’, presented at the Gala Dinner of ICCA’s 50th Anniversary Congress in 2011 in Geneva, he catalogued ICCA’s growth over its first 50 years of existence in a way that highlighted both his exceptional historical knowledge – within the field of arbitration and of global history as a whole – and his unparalleled ability to captivate a room with eloquent storytelling.


In his address, he spoke of ICCA as a “forum of ideas, or catalyst, working as a laboratory and not a museum,” and described ICCA’s evolution from a small council into a diverse, global organisation. He ended, as always, looking towards the future with great positivity, saying: “So the future is bright both for ICCA and international arbitration, as the attendance at this anniversary event demonstrates. ICCA’s positive catalyst still works. I shall stop here, because, tomorrow morning, we too must work.”


It is some comfort that Mr. Veeder’s voice can still be celebrated in the pages of so many of ICCA’s publications and in ICCA Congress recordings, so that we may continue to take inspiration from his remarkable life and work.


Please enjoy this selection of ICCA Audio-Visual Library materials featuring Johnny Veeder.


V.V. Veeder, Q.C. - MIDS Opening Lecture, 2012: “From Florence to London via Moscow and New Delhi: How and Why Arbitral Ideas Migrate"


ICCA 50th Anniversary Speech, Mr. V. V. Veeder, Q.C.: ‘Memories of ICCA’s First Fifty Years


ICCA 2012 Congress in Singapore Judicial Debate on the General Theme "State Courts & Intl. Arbitration: The Future", Introduction by V.V. Veeder