THE CONTINUING RELEVANCE OF SERGE LAZAREFF
Although Serge Lazareff passed away in 2012, his personality is reflected in the foundation and the DNA of the firm. An emblematic figure in arbitration and in the business world, Serge Lazareff excelled throughout his life and career.
Serge Lazareff’s career started at NATO (when it was still only called SHAPE) as General Dwight D. Eisenhower’s interpreter during the drafting of the NATO Treaty and continued as the chief legal advisor of the US Air Forces Central Command. He is the author of the seminal book of NATO Status of Forces (SOFA), a must read for all NATO lawyers, and an inspiration and permanently reminded members that when facing a complex legal issue, always go back to the fundamentals, which are always closer to the truthful solution.
Before he returned to private practice as international arbitrator and Professor of law at HEC, Serge Lazareff was appointed Legal Director of International Operations and Vice-President Asia-Pacific at Pechiney, the largest French industrial group at the time of his appointment, where he notably was in charge of the negotiations with US representatives to resolve a dispute historically known as the “uranium cartel” to resolve a dispute whereby France and Canada were accused of colluding to control the price of uranium.
As arbitrator, Serge Lazareff was involved in more than 300 institutional and ad hoc arbitration proceedings. In 1995, Serge Lazareff became the second President of the ICC Institute of World Business Law. He also chaired the French Commission on International Arbitration of the ICC and was a member of the LCIA court.
Lawyer, Doctor of Law and the first French post-war scholar to be accepted to Harvard, he advised large corporations and governments, including his instrumental role in the Euro Disneyland Paris project. Commander of the Legion of Honour and recipient of many other prizes and honour’s, he was also very involved in teaching and heavily contributed to the evolution of arbitral doctrine in his writings.
The contribution of Serge Lazareff to the development of dispute resolution involving international treaties and commercial arbitration, particularly in investments and development in transitional economies looms large still in our practices and internal philosophies. Serge Lazareff’s shadow remains large in current practices today and we strive to preserve and respect his views and traditions.
NATO still rewards legal professionals for their achievements with a Serge Lazareff Award (https://lieber.westpoint.edu/nato-shape-serge-lazareff-prize-williams-alcala/) and an arbitration Moot in France is also organized every year in memories of Serge Lazareff and his legal doctrine is often mentioned in the arbitration arena by major professors and arbitrators.