Language barriers abound in international arbitrations and can be remedied by professional legal interpretation and court translation services. In arbitrations, parties can either represent themselves or be represented by lawyers and even non-lawyers (such as corporate officers or technical advisors). Whenever lawyers are involved, international arbitration involves the same ethical issues that arise in other legal matters – for example, conflicts of interest, incompetence, lack of candor, dishonesty, improper communications, etc.
Unlike other legal matters, in cross-cultural international arbitration the issue of choice of law for professional conduct issues is not easily determined. For example, when each state involved imposes its own rules, a lawyer could be subject to different – even opposing – standards in the same proceeding. And unlike regular legal matters, in an international setting one cannot simply impose the rules of the jurisdiction of the tribunal as often times the lawyer is not familiar with the rules of conduct.
In such a Catch-22 situation, attorneys are advised to comply, to the best of their ability, with the code of their home jurisdiction while also becoming familiar with the code of the local jurisdiction. This, of course, will require a foreign language translation.