The threat posed by arbitration to law firms is ‘illusory’, the co-head of magic circle firm Allen & Overy’s global arbitration practice told delegates at the Global Law Summit today.

Michael Young was speaking at an Allen & Overy session on international litigation and the preferred places to fight legal battles.

Young, who sits at the ICC International Court of Arbitration, said there were some members of the international arbitration world who were ‘cultish’ about arbitration and ‘believe it is the only method of dispute resolution’.

He said: ‘It is often said international arbitration is the “best second choice” for dispute resolution. The first choice [being] many parties would prefer to have their disputes resolved in their own domestic courts.’

‘Where principle of case law exists, precedent will continue to survive,’ he added.

With arbitration cases, Young said parties should be allowed to resolve their disputes in private should they wish to do so. ‘Public interest should only come into play if something appears to have gone wrong in the process.’

Meanwhile, Christof von Dryander, deputy general counsel at Deutsche Bank, said the bank had a choice of where to litigate in only a few of the 6,000 cases it has going on.

Von Dryander said a lot of the bank’s strategy was about understanding the local and cultural issues, and choosing the right counsel and support, ‘not so much our being able to choose a forum’.

Decisions in Germany, von Dryander said, were increasingly reflecting the general view of society. ‘There is an enormous mistrust towards the banking industry and that is reflected in outcomes.’

Von Dryander said the bank was sceptical about whether arbitration was the right route for it, but said: ‘If we do agree arbitration, we carefully choose one of the established venues.’

He added: ‘If I had to choose where to fight a legal battle, I would not fight it in Germany or the US. I would still probably go to England and see if we could fight in the English court.’