The unique feature of Piet Sanders’ character was his extraordinary focus on the future. He was never interested in resting on his laurels or talking about ‘how far we have come’. He was constantly in forward motion, enjoying every moment of the adventure of building the world-wide social institution we now know as the international arbitral process. It was very difficult to get him to tell stories of the past, not because he wasn’t interested, but because he was incomparably more fascinated with what was yet to be.

In 2006 UNCITRAL organized a conference to talk about the 1976 Rules in which his hand had been so dominant. Many speakers, thinking no doubt that they were flattering the master, seemed to try to outdo each other as they sang the praises of the 1976 text and insisting that there was no reason to amend its perfection. When Professor Sanders rose, it was to observe politely that the realities of experience had showed that there was much to be improved in the document, and that it was urgent to get on with it in the interest of parties requiring efficient resolution of their disputes.

That was Piet Sanders – forever young …

Jan Paulsson, general editor International Handbook on Commercial Arbitration


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