A few days short of his seventieth birthday, Francisco G. Prol Pérez has left us, after a long illness that he faced until the last moments with exemplary stoicism, worthy of all praise. His loss leaves an enormous void in the world of Spanish arbitration, where he had a wide presence, and in the framework of international commercial arbitration, where he stood out for his work in the most important arbitration centres in the world. And this void will undoubtedly be felt among a large group of friends who sincerely appreciated him for his perspicacity and shrewdness, for his never hasty opinions and his intuition, but also for his bonhomie and his sense of humour, which was ingrained in his Galician ancestry. I am very saddened to write these lines, but I cannot forget the good times spent in many promotional experiences of arbitration in Madrid and the Basque Country, but above all in Paris, Mexico and Havana. An activity in Miami was pending but was frustrated by illness. As the poet Gjertrud Schnackenberg, a contemporary of our dear Paco Prol, said, despite the sadness of his departure, we find consolation in the memories and experiences shared with a good friend over many years.
Francisco Prol, after studying at the Centro de Estudios Universitarios- CEU, obtained his law degree in 1975 from the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, and from the outset his professional activity was oriented towards the practice of law in the fields of corporate, banking and financing, with special emphasis on advising on transactions carried out by international entities, both in the advisory and litigation (especially arbitration) areas. He began his professional career at the law firm Gómez-Acebo & Pombo (1981) where he became the partner in charge of the banking and finance law department until 1987. In the Corporate and Finance areas, Francisco G. Prol worked in London, as Foreign Assistant at Denton, Hall & Burgin, and in Paris, as assistant to the International Legal Department of Caisse Nationale de Crédit Agricole. In 1987 he founded the Madrid-based firm Prol y Asociados, from which he retired some five years ago to devote himself exclusively to his work as an arbitrator in his office in Calle Santa Cruz del Marcenado.
Since he started practising law, he has been involved in arbitration, at first mainly as a party lawyer and for more than 20 years now more particularly as an arbitrator, having been involved in this capacity in various arbitration proceedings, both national and international. Given his training as a banking and financial lawyer, a significant part of the arbitrations he has been involved in recently have been related to these areas of law (derivative products, financial transactions, etc.), as well as to corporate matters (problems between partners, between buyer and seller of companies and, in general, with the life of companies) and insolvency proceedings.
He is fluent in English and French and his command of Portuguese enabled him to have frequent and close contacts with Portugal and Brazil, having worked on several occasions with companies from these countries. He was also inspired by the spirit of the «silk road» and travelled to China on several occasions, bringing Spanish arbitration practice closer to the difficult and complex framework of the CIETAC.
Within his teaching activity, it is worth mentioning his role as Guest Professor at the Complutense University of Madrid, the Classical University of Lisbon, the University of Alcalá de Henares and the University of Minho in Braga. At the first of these universities, he worked for several years as a lecturer on the Master’s Degree in International Business Law at the School of Legal Practice. He also taught at the Arbitration Training School of the Madrid Bar Association.
His membership of institutions related to his specialities has been extensive: Madrid Bar Association (1981), Arbitration Courts (arbitrator), Civil and Commercial Court of Arbitration (CIMA), Banking and Financial Arbitration and Mediation Committee -founding member-, Madrid Court of Arbitration. Sociedad Española de Arbitraje (SEA), Corte de Arbitraje del Ilustre Colegio de Abogados de Madrid, Corte Española de Arbitraje, Câmara Fundação Getulio Vargas de Conciliação e Arbitragem (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), Centro de Arbitragem Comercial (Lisbon), China International Economic and Trade Arbitration Commission (CIETAC). Câmara de Arbitragem e Mediação da Federação das Industrias do Paraná (CAMFIEP) (Curitiba, Brazil), Centro de Arbitragem e Mediação da Câmara de Comércio Brasil-Canadá (CAM- CCBC), Centro Brasileiro de Mediação e Arbitragem (CBMA), ICDR (AAA), Dubai International Arbitration Centre (DIAC), Centro de Mediación y Arbitraje Comercial de la Cámara Argentina de Comercio (CEMARC), Concordia (Lisbon).
His contribution to science and practice in the areas of his speciality was fruitful and constant, as evidenced by his many articles, published both in Spain and abroad, mainly on arbitration, banking, international transactions and foreign investment. He was a regular contributor to various specialised publications and, in his last stage, to the journal La Ley: mediación y Arbitraje, where he published studies of great importance on the repercussions of the doctrine of the Constitutional Court on the practice of the High Courts of Justice in the annulment of arbitration awards. This last activity was enriched by his extensive work as a lecturer in important Spanish and foreign forums (France, Portugal, Mexico and Cuba). One of his latest interventions was at the Vitoria Gasteiz International Law Courses 2021 organised by the University of the Basque Country within the framework of the course «Paradoxes of commercial and investment arbitration, from the internal European and transnational perspective». There is a consensus among his countless friends and colleagues that Paco Prol was a man who endeared himself to them.