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Home International Tribunals Archive for category "Investor-State Arbitration Tribunals" (Page 5)

CETA’s New Domestic Law Clause

Published on March 17, 2016        Author: 
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The recent, widely-reported ‘legal scrub’ of the Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) has drawn attention for its endorsement of a radical shift away from the model of investor-state dispute settlement that has prevailed in investment agreements to date. The new text indicates that Canada has agreed to the EU’s proposals on an investment court system, with a permanent roster of arbitrators appointed by Canada and the EU, rather than ad hoc tribunals whose members are appointed by the disputing parties themselves. In another innovation, CETA will also include an appeals mechanism, which will have power to review the merits of first-instance rulings, going beyond the limited grounds for annulment of awards in the existing ICSID system.

Alongside these revolutions, the new CETA text also contains another change from the earlier text. Under the heading of ‘Applicable law and interpretation’, Article 8.31(2) of the new text provides:

The Tribunal shall not have jurisdiction to determine the legality of a measure, alleged to constitute a breach of this Agreement, under the domestic law of the disputing Party. For greater certainty, in determining the consistency of a measure with this Agreement, the Tribunal may consider, as appropriate, the domestic law of the disputing Party as a matter of fact. In doing so, the Tribunal shall follow the prevailing interpretation given to the domestic law by the courts or authorities of that Party and any meaning given to domestic law by the Tribunal shall not be binding upon the courts or the authorities of that Party.

Although the provision is new in CETA, it has also recently appeared in the EU-Vietnam FTA and in similar language in the EU’s November 2015 TTIP proposals. While this might suggest that the provision is a recent invention of the EU, its inspiration in CETA could equally have come from Canada, which included a similar provision in its 2008 FTA with Colombia. In fact, Colombia itself appears to have first spearheaded the provision, including language on domestic law broadly similar to the provision’s first sentence in its 2007 Model BIT and in agreements signed as far back as 2006 with Japan, the UK, India, Belgium, China, Peru and Switzerland. Read the rest of this entry…

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Claims by Dual Nationals under Investment Treaties: A New Form of Treaty Abuse?

Published on December 9, 2015        Author: 
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The issue of treaty abuse (or ‘treaty shopping’) has received heightened attention recently in the context of the on-going negotiations for the conclusion of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). In a public consultation on the potential inclusion of an investor-State arbitration clause in TTIP, the European Commission (EC) has raised concerns regarding the investors’ manipulation of corporate nationality through the so-called “shell” or “mailbox” companies in order to take advantage of the protection afforded by investment treaties (See Public consultation on modalities for investment protection and ISDS in TTIP, Question 1, p. 18). In line with the contributions made by many of the participants involved in the consultation process, the EC has stated that these companies should be excluded from the scope of TTIP. Accordingly, the EC has proposed to narrow the definition of the term ‘investor’ by requiring that a juridical person must have ‘substantial business activities’ in the territory of a signatory State (See Public consultation on modalities for investment protection and ISDS in TTIP, Question 1, pg. 18).

The foregoing requirement certainly responds to the criticisms of inappropriate treaty shopping, and it may be considered as a useful tool to prevent corporate investors from obtaining treaty protection by illegitimate means. Yet, the EC overlooks the fact that, in addition to corporations, investment treaties might also be subject to abuse by individual investors. In this context, a new type of BIT claim is now emerging in the field of investor-State arbitration, whereby investors who hold the nationality of both contracting parties to the treaty (i.e. dual nationals) make their own State a respondent before an international tribunal. Read the rest of this entry…

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Creating Conduits: Summary Report of the First Annual Oxford Investment Claims Summer Academy, St. Anne’s College (Oxford)

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This July 13-14, Oxford University Press and Investment Claims convened the First Annual Oxford Investment Claims Summer Academy at St. Anne’s College, the University of Oxford. Co-chaired by Diane Desierto, Ian Laird, and Frederic Sourgens, the Academy brought together a select expert group of academic and practitioner delegates to discuss the legitimacy of investor-state arbitration in the context of continuous and often virulent political criticism. The method and structure of the Academy departed from a traditional presentation format. Instead, the Academy as the first gathering of experts of its kind acted as a laboratory for open and rapid discussion of frontier issues among all participants. As a result of this format, the Academy constructively explored both traditional text-based and context-sensitive solutions for these frontier issues. ICJ Judge James Crawford’s keynote address to the delegates aptly captured the spirit of the open and critical discussion when noting that while there is little in the way of feasible alternative to investor-state arbitration and much to lose by its abolition. Bench, bar, and ivory tower must find it in them to become better stewards of this mode of international dispute resolution. In particular, there is an urgent need to address weaknesses made visible by the first two decades of sustained arbitral and annulment jurisprudence. With the depth of engagement at the inaugural session, the co-chairs are planning to hold the Academy again in the summer of 2016.

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Revisiting ‘Interested Parties’ in Investor-State Arbitration: Ticaret Procedural Order No. 3’s Compelled Disclosure of Third-Party Funders

Published on August 3, 2015        Author: 
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On 12 June 2015, the arbitral tribunal – composed of Professors Julian Lew, Laurence Boisson de Chazournes, and Bernard Hanotiau – in Muhammet Çap & Sehil Inşaat Endustri ve Ticaret Ltd. Sti v. Turkmenistan [ICSID Case No. ARB/12/6] issued its landmark Procedural Order No. 3, ordering the claimant-investors therein to confirm:

 “whether its claims in this arbitration are being funded by a third-party funder, and if so, shall advise Respondent [Turkmenistan] and the Tribunal of the name or names and details of the third-party funder(s), and the nature of the arrangements concluded with the third-party funder(s), including whether and to what extent it/they shall share in any successes that Claimants may achieve in this arbitration.” (Tribunal’s Decision in Order, para. 13.)

Ticaret Procedural Order No. 3 is the first such order issued in the ICSID (International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes) system that directly compels parties to disclose third-party funding arrangements in investor-State arbitration. Most importantly, it is the first publicly known arbitral order to confer (tacit) recognition to the critical role of third-party funders as part of the complex spectrum of interested parties in an investor-State arbitration. Apart from host States and investors, tribunals have thus far accepted that assignments of interest may be made by investor-claimants, without jeopardizing their standing in the dispute. In Ceskoslovenska Obchodni Banka, A.S. (CSOB) v. Slovak Republic [ICSID Case No. ARB/97/4, Decision on Jurisdiction, 24 May 1999, para. 32], held that, even in cases of assignments or subrogations of interest by investor-claimants, the “absence of beneficial ownership by a claimant in a claim or the transfer of the economic risk in the outcome of a dispute should not and has not been deemed to affect the standing of a claimant in an ICSID proceeding, regardless of whether or not the beneficial owner is a State Party or a private party.” The Ticaret Procedural Order No. 3 is the first instance that an investor-State tribunal openly conceded that a third-party funder’s financing arrangements with an investor-claimant could have a significant bearing on the substantive outcomes and procedural fairness of the arbitration. Read the rest of this entry…

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The Viability of Corruption Defenses in Investment Arbitration When the State Does Not Prosecute

Published on April 15, 2015        Author: 
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Corruption has become a focal point in international investment arbitration, as investors and respondent States both have alleged corruption as the basis for claims and defenses in a number of recent investment arbitrations. Decisions in cases such as World Duty Free v. Kenya and Metal-Tech v. Uzbekistan confirm that corruption is contrary to international public policy and the laws of nearly all nations. Accordingly, if an investment tribunal finds that the investor obtained its investment through corruption, the tribunal will conclude that it lacks jurisdiction over the dispute or that the investor’s claims are inadmissible.

Certain commentators have suggested, however, that respondent States should be required to prosecute the allegedly corrupt parties in order to raise defenses based on corruption. A threshold question thus is whether a State should be deemed to have acquiesced in the alleged corruption and thus be estopped from asserting any related defenses, if it failed to prosecute the allegedly responsible individuals.

As early as 2000, the tribunal in Wena Hotels v. Egypt remarked that it was “reluctant to immunize Egypt from liability in this arbitration,” because the government of Egypt had been aware of the consulting agreement that allegedly was used to conceal corrupt payments, and had “decided (for whatever reasons) not to prosecute” the consultant (para. 116). More recently, in the set-aside proceeding of Congo v. Commisimpex, the Paris Court of Appeal held that Congo’s mere allegations of a general climate of corruption within the government administration, without indicating the persons likely to be involved in the corruption or prosecuting the alleged beneficiaries of the corruption, were an insufficient basis to set aside the award against Congo. Notwithstanding the comments in these decisions regarding the State’s failure to prosecute, the State’s failure to prosecute was not dispositive in either case, because neither the Wena tribunal nor the Paris Court of Appeal was presented with persuasive evidence of corruption. As the Wena tribunal explained, Egypt bore “the burden of proving such an affirmative defense” of corruption, and had “failed to present any evidence that would refute Wena’s evidence that the [consulting agreement] was a legitimate agreement. . . .” (para. 117). Read the rest of this entry…

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The Mauritius Convention on Transparency: A Model for Investment Law Reform?

Published on April 8, 2015        Author: 
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In the midst of heated debates on investor-State dispute settlement in Europe, on 10 December 2014 the United Nations General Assembly adopted the United Nations Convention on Transparency in Treaty-based Investor-State Arbitration. Prepared by UNCITRAL in the context of its recent revision of the UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules, the Convention, also known as the ‘Mauritius Convention on Transparency’, was opened for signature on 17 March 2015 in Port Louis, Mauritius. Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Mauritius, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States signed the Convention at this occasion (see UN Press Release). In my Editorial in the latest issue of the Journal of World Investment and Trade (which this blog reproduces), I interpret this Convention as a piece of constitutional reform of the international investment regime and ask to which extent it can serve as a model for international investment law reform more generally.

A Piece of Constitutional Reform of the International Investment Regime

The Mauritius Convention will extend the application of the UNCITRAL Rules on Transparency, which so far have a very limited scope of application (only to UNCITRAL investor-State arbitrations that are based on treaties concluded on or after 1 April 2014), potentially to the entire treaty-based international investment regime as it stood on 1 April 2014. Notably, it would make the UNCITRAL Transparency Rules applicable to all treaty-based investor-State arbitrations under ‘old’ treaties, independently of the applicable arbitration rules. Whether the arbitration in question is governed by the UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules, the ICSID Convention, the Arbitration Rules of the International Chamber of Commerce, the Arbitration Rules of the Arbitration Institute of the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce – you name it – the Mauritius Convention would provide for transparency of submissions to arbitral tribunals, arbitration hearings, and decisions by arbitral tribunals, and give more room for third-party participation under a uniform set of rules. It could thus apply to some 3000+ investment treaty relations if both the respondent State and the investor’s home State are contracting parties or, alternatively, if the investor-claimant accepts the unilateral offer to apply the UNCITRAL Transparency Rules made by the respondent in signing the Convention (see Article 2 of the Mauritius Convention).

Provided it is signed and ratified by a sufficiently large number of States and regional economic integration organizations, such as the EU or ASEAN, the Mauritius Convention will bring about a paradigm shift in investor-State dispute settlement. Although possibilities for reservations, including subsequent ones, are broad (Articles 3 and 4 of the Mauritius Convention), and although ongoing arbitrations are excluded from its scope of application (Article 5 of the Mauritius Convention), the Convention will establish transparency as a general principle of international investment law.

This constitutes another step in the incremental adaptation of international investment law to the demands of a more democratic and accountable international public law system of private-public adjudication. The wide-spread application of transparency under the Convention would not only enhance the accountability of the underlying investor-State relations, but also enable better public control of the arbitral process. This turns the Mauritius Convention into an instrument with constitutional implications for the international investment regime. Read the rest of this entry…

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European Hypocrisy: TTIP and ISDS

Published on January 21, 2015        Author: 
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For some, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) in and of itself has become in many European (and American) circles, the enemy: another manifestation of unchecked globalization, the march of Capital trumping social, environmental and other  rights, an unhealthy embrace of the Americans from whose clutches we have painfully managed to extricate ourselves, et cetera. Yes, there is some sarcasm or irony in the above, but visit the blogs and you will see where it comes from. My sarcasm should not be taken as a dismissal of all or any of these concerns. TTIP is far from Snow White. The concerns are not entirely fanciful. It is the final objective I oppose: a no-holds-barred attack on TTIP with the objective of tanking the whole agreement. If this is your view, do not waste your time here and skip to another item.

A wholesale defeat of TTIP, if achieved, will, I believe, be a big time Pyrrhic victory ̶ a hugely missed opportunity for the polities and the peoples of these polities.

I support the TTIP for two obvious and banal reasons. First, there is every reason to believe that on aggregate it will contribute significantly to an increase in welfare in both polities, enhance growth, contribute to stability and constitute another tool, in an embarrassingly empty toolkit, to combat future transatlantic-generated economic shocks. A large and often unspoken asset of TTIP rests not with the content of the various substantive disciplines but in establishing a culture of joint conversation, regulation and management. It will counter the litigious and confrontational culture of the WTO, where the EU and the USA find themselves typically as rivals and antagonists. Constructivist theory actually has something to say here as do the insights of Global Administrative Law scholarship. Read the rest of this entry…

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Towards a Constitutional Law Framework for Investment Law Reform

Published on January 5, 2015        Author: 
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Reforming international investment law and investor-state arbitration is a widespread concern. This is nowhere more manifest than in the heated debates (in Germany and elsewhere) about the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). Should there be investor-state arbitration between economies with well-functioning legal systems? Do we need an appellate mechanism to control arbitral tribunals? Who should serve as arbitrator and what ethical standards govern? And how should the substantive standards of investment protection be formulated in order to safeguard policy space for host states? These are some of the questions debated. At the same time, reforming international investment law is not only on the agendas of contracting parties, it also plays an important role for international organizations, such as the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), or the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

The Need for a Normative Framework for Investment Law Reform

The reform proposals that result from these various initiatives reflect the political pressure international investment law is facing; they also put pressure on states to remedy the discontents with the current system (see my earlier post on EJIL: Talk!). At the same time, the large number of reform proposals currently floated risk fragmenting investment law even further. This can be counterproductive if the aim is to arrive at an investment law regime that is both balanced and predictable. Furthermore, reform proposals themselves reflect underlying political and ideological preferences that may not be globally shared. What is needed therefore is a debate about these preferences and their impact on investment law reform. In other words: we need a broader debate about the normative framework for investment law reform.

As I argue in my Editorial of the latest Special Issue of the Journal of World Investment and Trade (entitled ‘Towards Better BITs? – Making International Investment Law Responsive to Sustainable Development Objectives’), this framework should not be seen only as a matter of (potentially short-lived and changing) economic policies that differ from one country to another. Instead, we should develop a framework for investment law reform on the basis of more fundamental principles, in particular if we are looking for ‘systemic reform’ that makes international investment law acceptable to all states. This requires – as Karl Sauvant and Federico Ortino rightly point out in a recent study – consensus-building processes about underlying assumptions and objectives for investment law reform. Read the rest of this entry…

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Social Capital and the Limits of Network Analysis

Published on September 29, 2014        Author: 
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I want to start by thanking each of the commentators for their kind, forgiving and thought-provoking comments on my article, and by recognizing that the work of DaphaMichael and Tom set the foundations and served as the inspiration for this work. I will organize my responses into three different clusters:  methodology, extensions and other, more general comments.

Methodology

I will first address Tom’s comments on the record of appointment as a proxy for displayed preferences. Can we ignore the fact that an appointment does not necessarily indicate that the arbitrator was the appointer’s first choice? I like to think of this question as a job offer to a candidate who decides not to accept an offer. The truth may be that certain candidates are in high demand and that many companies are offering jobs to the same well-qualified candidates.  Hence it is possible that parties who nominate arbitrators and may be trying to enlarge the diversity of the pool of arbitrators in ICSID may be somewhat restricted by the broader market of arbitration professionals.  This is true especially where, as Michael points out (and as confirmed by arbitrators during my interviews), the compensation provided by ICSID is lower than that of other arbitration opportunities and venues.   This is a limitation of the assumptions that can be made from the ICSID appointments. We are left with only the record of appointments as a second-best proxy.

A second point raised by Tom as to why the mid-2000s witnessed the first appointments of today’s power-brokers is also relevant. We must take into consideration that these years saw a boom of investor-state cases and, hence, more appointments. It is also true that this is when we started seeing more awards discussed publically.  Although I did not report these statistics in this paper, measures that reflect the connectivity of the network start stabilizing and changing in less intense ways during this period.  Thus I’m not surprised that the network acquired self-organizing qualities during this time.  One plausible hypothesis for future exploration is how the development of transparency rules may have helped cement public knowledge of decisions and with that, some of the insights that come with understanding the decision-making philosophy of arbitrators.

On the methodology of determining the average compensation per arbitration of US$200,000, I admit that the number is not incredibly precise. However, it is the best approximation I could divine. I followed a complex, yet not foolproof strategy to arrive at what I consider a very rough average. First, I computed the amount in 2010 dollars from roughly 70 awards that provided information on compensation in my sample of ICSID and ICSID Additional Facility awards. I divided this amount by the months of duration of each case and averaged the result. Using the dollars per month estimate, I calculated the possible amount paid to an arbitrator on settled or dismissed cases based on an average duration of the case. I confirmed that this rough estimate was in the right ballpark with one scholar who has done extensive empirical work with ICSID data as well as through my interviews with arbitrators. It is not an exact appraisal, but what is relevant for the purpose of the article is whether ICSID’s rate completely changes the incentives to accept an appointment and hence whether the distribution of ICSID appointments is completely different from that of other institutions. We cannot know the answer to this question for certain, but with a grain of salt, my educated guess (taking into account what I gleaned from working at ICSID) is that it does not. Most appointments are accepted and most rejections occur when a conflict exists. In my experience it was only in very few cases that, for other reasons (such as being too busy) an arbitrator decided not to accept an appointment. Read the rest of this entry…

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ICSID Arbitrators: The Ultimate Social Network?

Published on September 25, 2014        Author: 
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waibelMichael Waibel is a University Lecturer at the University of Cambridge.

Sergio Puig’s article offers a refreshingly new, thought-provoking analysis of the links between investment arbitrators. Who the parties appoint as arbitrators matters for how the investment treaty regime operates. Criticism of the appointment process in investment arbitration is widespread, yet rigorous empirical work on this important aspect of the investment treaty regime remains rare. Relying on the theoretical frame of social network analysis, Sergio sheds light on the interactions among ICSID arbitrators. His analysis suggests that a core group of 25 arbitrators enjoys disproportionate influence on the development of the investment treaty regime. To understand what animates the regime, it may suffice to analyse the preferences and political philosophy of these 25 ‘power-brokers’.

The Core-Periphery Divide and Underrepresentation

The core of the arbitration network is composed of 25 arbitrators. Members of this elite group are on average connected to 11.75 other arbitrators. The core’s cultural and legal homogeneity is striking: 14 Europeans, 4 Latin Americans, 3 Canadians, 1 New Zealander and only 1 US arbitrator. Similarly, among the top ten countries of origin of ICSID arbitrators overall, five are Euro-Atlantic states (US, France, UK, Canada and Switzerland) and five Latin American. By contrast, African and Asian arbitrators have rarely been appointed to ICSID tribunals, despite significant inward- and outward flows of foreign investment to and from Asia in particular. In such data-intensive work, minor errors are bound to creep in. For instance, in Figure 4, Vaughan Lowe appears as a US, rather than a UK national, and the 26th arbitrator in the core between Jonny Veeder and Jan Paulsson remains nameless.

The formal bond of nationality may be only a crude measure of arbitrator behaviour. As Sergio rightly highlights (p. 405), many arbitrators with nationalities of developing countries have received at least part of their legal education in developed countries (chiefly the UK, the US and France). Indeed, if one focuses on arbitrators who have spent most or all of their adult lives in a developing country and have not worked or received part of their educated in developed countries, the voice of developing countries in even less represented among ICSID arbitrators than the formal link of nationality would suggest.

Other demographics are also underrepresented among ICSID arbitrators, most notably women. 93 percent of all ICSID appointments were male arbitrators (p. 404). Given that Brigitte Stern has accumulated the highest number of appointments of any ICSID arbitrator, the share of female arbitrators is even lower at 5 percent (p. 405). Two female super arbitrators apart, women are at the periphery of the arbitration network. This gender imbalance mirrors the general characteristics of the entire arbitration network (p. 411).

Yanhui Wu and I have recently assembled data on a control group composed of more than 700 potential ICSID arbitrators, i.e. individuals with similar characteristics and qualifications to those who have already been appointed to at least one ICSID tribunal. Our control group includes current and former ICJ and WTO Appellate Body (AB) Members who, unlike some of their judicial colleagues, have yet to be appointed to an ICSID tribunal, and partners at leading arbitration practices in the same position. Ten former AB members and 18 current and former ICJ judges since 1990 have never been appointed. The following table compares some characteristics of the treatment and control groups. Read the rest of this entry…

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