Flip works as a domestic and international negotiator, litigator and arbitrator. He’s been handling arbitrations for nearly 30 years, having served as chairman, sole arbitrator and party-appointed arbitrator, as well as acting as counsel in arbitration proceedings with matters related to the following industries: Information Technology, Telecommunications, Intellectual Property, Construction and Energy.
What led you into a career as an arbitrator?
Probably the earlier moments of my career. When I started practising 30 years ago, I had the great fortune to be working with the best practitioners at the time. Almost all were academics and highly respected authoritative specialists, most of them acting as Supreme Court lawyers, then regarded as first-class professionals. By their authority, they were asked to act as arbitrators. As it was well-known that I was their associate, the parties often invited me to act as a party-appointed secretary. Following in the footsteps of the frontrunners in arbitration was a privilege and a natural fit. I liked it so much that I have consciously steered my career in that direction.
What do you enjoy about the process of settling disputes?
I like every step in the process of resolving a divergence of views, either through conciliation or through the issuance of an arbitral award. It creates an enormous amount of satisfaction when you achieve a resolution that both parties can live with, even if one party is prevailing on all issues.
What is the most challenging aspect of settling disputes?
The challenge is to find and understand the substantiated credibility that each party should demonstrate in order to weigh the arguments underlying their claims and make a ruling. When counsel haven’t done their job that well, my task becomes even more difficult. How to bring up an issue that parties have ignored, but that is critical for resolving the dispute or establishing the legal truth? It is a fine balance between efficiency, party autonomy and due process considerations.
Of your 30-year career so far, what are your professional highlights?
There have been many. The creation of the first alternative telecommunications carrier in Belgium is definitely one of the highlights. But I am also proud that I have been able to represent internet companies, online services companies and multinationals of all sorts in international arbitrations. These companies may have opposing policy interests, but when it comes to securing their legal position, I feel privileged that any of them value the technical expertise and experience in arbitration and dispute resolution that I can offer them.
Why did you want to join Nominet’s DRS as an Expert?
I’ve been aware of Nominet’s DRS for as long as I’ve been handling ADR (alternative dispute resolution) disputes in the field of domain names, twenty years ago. I wanted to extend and share my experience in ADR and it was a wonderful challenge to become the first non-native English speaker at Nominet.
What have you enjoyed about the experience so far?
I like the swiftness and the scrutiny of the process, as well as the open minded and practical approach.
Why is it important to find settlements over domains through this process rather than letting things go to court?
The focus allows for a fast and to-the-point outcome at a reasonable cost by specialists, a service courts can’t offer.
What do you do to switch off from your work?
I like a good novel, am very fond of art and architecture, and try to develop my (not inconsiderable) garden, surrounded by meadows. I also swim and play golf, but mainly just to keep in shape; I am not a sportsman particularly!
How’s lockdown life for you?
Very busy. As travel has been suspended, I am using the extra time to start to write a new book – on arbitration of course.
Flip joined Nominet’s DRS as an Expert in Autumn 2019. Find out more about the DRS Experts in our news story.