Ask An Expert: Juan Antonio Ruiz

Juan Antonio Ruiz, Partner at Cuatrecasas in Barcelona, Spain, discusses a number of significant disputes trends, including hybrid clauses, online dispute resolution and the growth of mediation.

What is your role in dispute resolution?

Currently I am a partner in the litigation and arbitration department with Cuatrecasas. Most of my professional time, around 80%, is spent acting as an external lawyer (advisor) in commercial litigation, arbitration or mediation. I spend the other 20% acting as a provider, both as an arbitrator and as a mediator, in commercial diputes.

What made you specialise in dispute resolution?

Creativity. I enjoy solving disputes, and have done so ever since I was a kid. Also, the passion I have perceived among litigators/problem solvers has no comparison in other fields of law. I like to use my best efforts to convert the dispute into a business opportunity, looking for win-win solutions through innovation, creation, collaboration and cooperation.

Is there a particular area you focus on?

I mostly focus on negotiation, commercial mediation and judicial litigation, although I also am quite busy in commercial arbitration. Contracts, product liability, torts, pharmaceuticals, distribution and agency, are my main areas of specialisation.

Which processes do you use most frequently?

I use processes in the following order: first, negotiation; second, litigation; third, arbitration; and, finally mediation, even though I always recommend the use of mediation as the second process when negotiation fails, regardless of the existence of a jurisdiction or arbitration clause.  

In the last month I have increasingly used med-arb, that is, if negotiation fails, we try mediation and if there is no agreement, then arbitration.

How is the market currently addressing parties’ needs?

In my view, market is not addressing parties’ needs yet. It is truth that there is an incipient and increasing movement to offer and make parties available with different ADR to cover their needs, but this is still far from what the parties really need. I consider that most of the time the parties are still unaware of the resources they have to fulfill their needs, and the easier way for parties, and for in-house lawyers, is to follow the traditional path, which is litigation, and not