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Petya Ilieva


Title of PhD: Judicialisation of international commercial arbitration
Supervisor: Jason Chuah

Which country do you originate from?

However I have studied in the UK before doing an MA International Commercial Law at the University of Leicester.

Where did the inspiration of your PhD come from?

Whilst at Leicester choosing modules I picked international commercial arbitration – a big attraction of this was that the four students with the highest marks got the chance to compete at the Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot in Vienna. I was really inspired by the society of arbitrators, decided it was flexible and challenging. I was very interested by the existence of this ‘middle ground’ between the judicial system and private law. I had always worked whilst studying (at three different law firms) and wanted to dedicate myself solely to the academic side of the subject, hence the PhD.

Why City? Why London?

I wanted to come to UK as I had heard great things about HE in UK. One of lecturers at Leicester had recommended Professor Chuah as a supervisor and I was further convinced when I saw the available scholarships. City is an organisation with big plans for the future, offering more flexibility than traditional institutions and a great international community. London of course operates as a massive international arbitration and financial centre.

What’s the biggest talking point in your area of law at the moment?

The future of arbitration and how will it develop (especially international arbitration); some academics think that it is struggling to cope with the challenges of modern business needs. Split between those foreseeing the demise of arbitration – others believe it is flexible and will be able to overcome challenges. ADR is becoming more popular – e.g. mediation.

What’s been the biggest challenge about being a research student?

You hear about researchers for whom the PhD becomes tedious – this hasn’t happened! Most difficult is the time management: finding the time to do all the things I want to do. There are so many opportunities you have to be very structured and organised.

What have you enjoyed most?

Being in the international sphere – amongst academics and bright people. It’s so inspiring and motivating. You think you’ve only opened one door but so many opportunities stretching out in front of you.

What other activities have you got involved in whilst at City?

The two big things are being coach for the City Vis Moot competition and the teaching; I’m a Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA) for Contract Law. Students sign up to go to extra classes with the GTAs for more tuition in these subject areas. This has been challenging but I really enjoy it – it’s great when you have young people coming to your class who are eager to learn. I’m trying to develop skills in the students so that they want to learn more, not just to tick a box for exams. They must want to achieve something. This has also been a learning curve for me as I was originally trained in the Civil Law system.

The IALS: Law PhD heaven!

The IALS: Law PhD heaven!

I have experienced the Vis Competition from all fronts – as a participant, arbitrator and now coach. The role of coach requires a balance between leadership skills and team management skills, being a motivator but also making people work out the problems they have for themselves – not just give answers. They must find the answers independently.

I’ve also been one of the two PhD course reps this year and have got involved in activities as part of widening participation. I am the Pro Bono rep within the law society, I help to organise conferences and seminars and am a member of 2 research groups. I also contribute to a blog.

Finally, what’s your favourite part of London?

Covent Garden, Piccadilly Circus, and Russell Square – home of the fantastic Institute of Advanced Legal Studies!

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