Interview with Kristin Campbell-Wilson
“There is no one-size-fits-all approach to dispute resolution, so we endeavor to offer the business community a broad menu of services”, says recently appointed Secretary General Kristin Campbell-Wilson in an interview about expectations, goals and challenges ahead.
How did you discover the world of international arbitration, and what led you to one of the leading arbitration institutions worldwide, the SCC?
I did not have a particular interest in dispute resolution while I was in law school at Stockholm University. But after graduation I joined a small law firm, and already in my first month at the job, I had the opportunity to appear before the Stockholm District Court. It was a small claim on behalf of a debt-collecting company, but I enjoyed the thrill of the courtroom setting! A few years later I joined the dispute resolution group at one of the international law firms, which introduced me to arbitration. The benefits of arbitration, not least the efficiency of it, quickly made it my favourite form of dispute resolution. In my fifth year at the firm, a head hunter called and asked me to consider the role of Deputy Secretary General at the SCC. I had been counsel in countless SCC arbitrations, so I was familiar with the institution and impressed by its secretariat. It was an opportunity too exciting to pass on, and I have never looked back.
You have long been Deputy Secretary General, as well as Acting Secretary General since April, and now you have formally been appointed Secretary General. What about this position excites you the most, and what do you consider the biggest challenge?
The SCC exists to provide the Swedish and international business communities with efficient dispute resolution, which is a key element of a healthy business climate and promotes international trade. My predecessors both had their unique approach to the role, as do my counterparts at other arbitration institutions. The SCC developed into one of the world’s foremost venues for international dispute resolution under the leadership of Mr Ulf Franke, who was Secretary General for more than 30 years. During Ms Annette Magnusson’s tenure, and my years as deputy, the focus was on innovation in arbitration and digitalizing the case management to improve time and cost efficiency. As I now take over as Secretary General, it is for a high-performing, efficient and ambitious institution with an international footprint. There is always an incentive to reaching higher and becoming better at what we do, and I look forward to continuing the close dialogue with our users and other stakeholders to ensure that the SCC serves its purpose and remains relevant also in tomorrow’s marketplace.
You have previously explained that the SCC is currently in a phase of expansion, and that the secretariat is recruiting an additional legal counsel and a case administrator. Can you say more about this expansion and what it means for the SCC?
Yes, this is an exciting time for the institute. In the past ten years, the SCC’s small secretariat has carried out a large number of development projects and initiatives, introducing procedural innovations, new rules, and administrative practices to enhance the user experience. The secretariat has held a centennial celebration, published books and articles, organized and participated in countless conferences, run the crowdsourcing contest The Stockholm Treaty Lab, and even produced the documentary ‘The Quiet Triumph – How Arbitration Changed the World’. All of this while also managing a steadily increasing caseload. In 2020 we saw the second highest number of new cases ever registered, and it is now time to bring on more colleagues to share our exciting work. With a larger SCC team, we will be able to engage even more with our users, the arbitration community and other stakeholders with the aim to reach even higher and become even better at what we do.
This is a time of global crises and rapid change. In your view, what are the challenges facing the business and law communities? How can the SCC address these challenges?
The environment in which international business operates has become increasingly complex. Businesses are faced with fast-paced technology development, increasingly complex products and services, convoluted contract structures, new and developing regulatory frameworks and, of course, politics. And, importantly, all actors must now consider the impact of any transaction on human rights and the climate. I believe that navigating these factors is the biggest challenge for businesses and, in turn, for the dispute resolution sector. For this reason, the SCC keeps a close dialogue with different stakeholders to identify and meet the developing needs of the business community. The recent launch of an additional dispute resolution tool, the SCC Express, is an example of our efforts to meet our users’ changing needs. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to dispute resolution, so we endeavor to offer the business community a broad menu of services.