Heidi Merikalla-Teir, Secretary General of the Arbitration Institute of the Finland Chamber of Commerce (FAI). Photo: Hanna Knaapi
In July, Finland became the hotspot of international diplomacy. The Helsinki Summit between Presidents Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin showcased Finland as a reliable and efficient centre for settling international disputes – which is not a surprise, as Finland has a long tradition of conflict resolution.
Global media rightfully described Finland as a trustworthy, respected and safe country, with virtually no corruption and excellent geographical location. These characteristics are valuable to resolve international business disputes as well. The Helsinki Summit inspired many Finnish companies to spotlight their brands. Amongst them, a brewery marked the occasion with a new beer named “Let’s settle this like adults”.
“Likewise, the motto for settling international business disputes could well be “Let’s settle this like Finns,” says Heidi Merikalla-Teir, Secretary General of the Arbitration Institute of the Finland Chamber of Commerce (FAI).
A risk management tool for business
In today’s fast-paced business world, organisations are under a lot of pressure to develop their businesses, innovate and be truly global. The ability to change direction rapidly and make difficult strategic choices is vital. The last thing a company wants is to tie resources to lengthy and expensive dispute resolution proceedings – fighting over old issues takes precious time away from business development and hinders the organisation from looking ahead.
“Every business will eventually run into a situation where something doesn’t go as planned: a faulty delivery, an unpaid bill, a dispute between shareholders or other disagreements. Disputes may arise and, sometimes, they cannot be solved without outside assistance. What matters is to be prepared to deal with disputes as they arise,” says Merikalla-Teir.
“As part of their contract negotiations, organisations should agree on dispute resolution. Similarly, people entering into marriage often agree on divorce terms – it’s not a sign of mistrust. Agreeing on the use of efficient dispute resolution should be seen as a risk management tool – for all parties.”
In search of efficient dispute resolution method
Increasingly, business disputes are being resolved through arbitration, which is a dispute resolution method alternative to litigation in state courts. It provides businesses with speedy and cost-efficient dispute resolution, enabling them to use their resources effectively and to look into the future, not the past. Flexibility, expertise and confidentiality are other advantages of arbitration. The outcome of an arbitration proceeding is a decision that is binding on the parties and cannot, as a main rule, be appealed. This contributes to the speediness of the proceedings. “Resolving disputes in one instance only is often the best solution from a business perspective,” Merikalla-Teir adds.
Parties may agree on settling their business disputes in arbitration by inserting an arbitration clause in their contract. “Too often we see contract clauses that are poorly formulated, leading to further disagreements. This is why we recommend the use of model arbitration clauses that can be found on our website arbitration.fi in many languages,” Merikalla-Teir emphasises.
Consider it solved – the Finnish way
Arbitration has a long tradition as a dispute resolution method in Finland. The Arbitration Institute of the Finland Chamber of Commerce (FAI) is one of the world’s oldest arbitration institutes. International disputes are increasingly being resolved through the FAI arbitration.
“We hope that Finland – and the FAI as an arbitration institute – will be increasingly recognized as a hub for international dispute resolution. In addition to the characteristics highlighted by international media during the Helsinki Summit, Finnish efficiency together with pragmatic and “no-nonsense” attitude meet the needs of today’s fast-paced business world,” Merikalla-Teir notes. “Being involved in a dispute is rarely good business for the parties involved. Nevertheless, sometimes there is no alternative. Then, it is all about being prepared and able to deal with the dispute efficiently. From the outset, settling disputes efficiently requires a right mindset – and the Finns have it.”
Text: Kati Keturi
The Finland Arbitration Institute