#10QuestionswithMaxwell Interview Series: Túlio Di Giacomo Toledo, Permanent Court of Arbitration
This week’s #10QuestionsWithMaxwell features Túlio Di Giacomo Toledo, Legal Counsel and Representative of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in Singapore. He manages the implementation of the PCA-Singapore host country agreement as well as the promotion of Singapore as a venue for international arbitration and PCA services throughout the region. Prior to his appointment as PCA Representative in Singapore, he headed the PCA’s office in Mauritius between 2016 and 2019.
As Legal Counsel, Túlio acts as registrar and provides secretarial support to tribunals in interstate disputes, arbitrations under investment agreements, and contractual disputes.
In this interview, Túlio shared his day-to-day routine, best work-related advice he received, his favourite Singapore food, and more.
Read his full interview below:
Q: Could you share what sets apart Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) from the other arbitral institutions?
A: The PCA is the oldest permanent intergovernmental organization dedicated to the settlement of international disputes. It was established by treaty in 1899 with the primary purpose of facilitating the settlement of disputes between States. Since then, the PCA has developed into a modern, multi-faceted institution with regional offices in Asia, Africa and the Americas. It has provided administrative support to parties and tribunals in some of the most high-profile international arbitration cases, involving various combinations of States, intergovernmental organizations, state entities, and private parties.
Besides, the Secretary General of the PCA has the unique role of acting as designating authority under the UNCITRAL Rules and as appointing authority pursuant to national laws, treaties, and other sets of procedural rules. As a well-known Portuguese arbitrator once said, the PCA stands “at the junction of the main arbitral roads like our former traffic police, as without it, the arbitral traffic could not flow so easily.”
Q: How did you come about taking on the role of the representative of Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in Singapore?
A: My relocation to Singapore was a result of an internal move. I was back to our headquarters in The Hague after having served as PCA Representative in Mauritius. When the opportunity arose to come to Singapore, I did not hesitate to put myself at the disposal of the Secretary General. Singapore is our busiest jurisdiction outside Europe in terms of number of hearings and a strategic office for the PCA. I knew that my posting here would come with several challenges, which probably made me feel more attracted to take up this opportunity.
Q: How would you describe your day-to-day routine working as the representative of Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in Singapore?
A: As PCA representative in Singapore, I am responsible for the management of our office and for the promotion of PCA services in the region. To that end, we seek to build on our network in the region and contribute to academic events and activities. Pursuant to a host country agreement signed between the PCA and the Government of Singapore, it is also my duty to assist with the promotion of Singapore as a venue for international arbitration and facilitate the organisation of PCA hearings that are being held in the country. I am also regularly called upon to assist with the diplomatic work of the PCA and advise the Secretary General of the PCA on agreements that are being negotiated with our contracting parties and matters relating to PCA membership.
As PCA legal counsel, I act as tribunal secretary in a number of PCA cases and provide advice to the PCA Secretary General on appointing authority matters under the UNCITRAL Rules and other sets of procedural rules.
Q: What do you think is the most challenging aspect of your job?
A: The PCA attracts some of the most significant and politically sensitive arbitration cases involving States and parties from all over the world. Stakes are high for the parties in those cases and as a result it is our duty to ensure that they and the members of the tribunal can enjoy the best we can offer. Every PCA case is a different challenge and we adapt to the particular demands in each case. It has been our work philosophy to provide tailor-made services to best meet those different demands.
Q: What is the most rewarding about your job?
A: PCA legal counsel often serve as tribunal secretary in proceedings administered by the PCA. As such, we have the chance to work closely with leading international arbitrators, many of whom are amongst the most brilliant minds in the field. Getting the chance to know them is without a question one of the most rewarding aspects of our job.
Q: How has your previous legal experiences prepared you for your current role?
A: Prior to joining the PCA, I practiced law in a law firm in Brazil and later clerked at the International Court of Justice. My experience working for another international court has been extremely useful because it has prepared me to deal with the kinds of cases the PCA is often asked to administer. However, we are dealing with law firms on a daily basis and without question my experience as a practicing lawyer greatly prepared me for my role at the PCA.
Q: What’s the best work-related advice you’ve ever received?
A: Have a path in mind but be flexible. You do not know what opportunities (and challenges) life will present you. Do not be afraid to embrace the unexpected.
Q: Do you have a mentor / an influential figure that you look up to throughout your career? Share with us.
A: It wouldn’t be fair to choose only one person. I have had numerous mentors who have helped me immeasurably but not many have inspired and influenced me as Judge Thomas Buergenthal has. A former ICJ judge and arbitrator, he was my international law professor at George Washington University. Not only his teachings helped me set a career path in international law and dispute settlement but also helped grow as an individual. His personal stories and his book ‘A Lucky Child’, which tells his experiences as a young boy who survived Auschwitz, gave me a different perspective on life and the role of law. I am proud to have received a scholarship that carried his name.
Q: What’s your favourite Singapore food?
A: The food in Singapore was one of the reasons why I was so excited to move here. I feel I am still discovering what Singapore has to offer after one year living here. I love the simplicity of chicken rice and the richness of a bowl of laksa but no other Singaporean dish has become a staple in my diet as much as the kaya toast.
Q: Where are you going for your first vacation once the travel bans are lifted?
A: It has been very hard to see family since the start of the pandemic so my priority is to visit relatives in Brazil and California. Apart from that, I am looking forward to visiting colleagues and friends in Hong Kong and Bangkok.
Q: Lastly, what do you like about Maxwell Chambers (or Maxwell Chambers Suites)? Share with us your favourite spot(s)!
A: I see Maxwell Chambers as one of the most active and important hubs for arbitration in the world. It is not only a place to work but also to meet colleagues and expand your professional network. I have visited Maxwell Chambers in the past to attend hearings and would often find that arbitrators with whom I work in other cases were also at Maxwell Chambers attending other events or functions. I guess the pleasure of those unexpected meetings in the lobby or the corridors is my favourite aspect of Maxwell Chambers.