Lex Arbitri

The Law of International Dispute Resolution

As discussed in our previous blog, many foreign companies favor private international arbitration for dispute resolution purposes in order to avoid being haled into a U.S. court and to avoid U.S.-style discovery.  That calculus may change if the Supreme Court decides to consider whether a district court has authority to order discovery under 28 U.S.C. § 1782 for use in private commercial arbitration, which would resolve the current split amongst Circuit Courts.…
The outbreak of the coronavirus has been an unprecedented event affecting every industry, including construction.  To ensure their entitlement to an extension of time, costs, or even termination, parties to construction contracts need to carefully review the contract provisions that allocate risks.  Below, we discuss a number of practical considerations that may arise under a standard form construction contract – such as the FIDIC Red Book – in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.…
Since our last update, a little over a month ago, many major arbitral institutions have updated their guidance regarding COVID-19 in light of the continuing impact of the pandemic on ongoing proceedings.  Below we have included updated guidance from major arbitral institutions and expanded the chart to include a number of new institutions.  Thirteen major arbitral institutions[i] also issued a joint statement regarding “Arbitration and COVID-19.”[ii]  The statement encouraged parties and arbitrators to work together to mitigate the effects of COVID‑19 on proceedings while still ensuring fairness.…
The global health pandemic is a crisis affecting the health and well-being of our citizens, and a financial crisis of unknowable breadth and duration. We are all in crisis to one degree or another and trustees of private trusts face conditions and decisions once unthinkable. Trustees will be called upon to make the most difficult decisions of their tenures, including investments, management of trust assets, cost measures and decisions about distributions to beneficiaries.…
International arbitration is becoming an increasingly relevant forum for the resolution of intellectual property (“IP”) disputes. This should not be a surprise given multi-country licensing of patents, trademarks and trade secrets, as well as broader market forces such as globalization, digitalization, and the Internet. In a global economy, intellectual property rights (“IPRs”) are often a company’s most valuable assets. The ability to exploit, protect and enforce IPRs on a cross-border level is thus critical. As with other types of cross-border disputes, international arbitration provides an attractive forum for the resolution of disputes over IPRs.…
The International Council for Commercial Arbitration (ICCA) and the International Bar Association (IBA) have established a Joint Task Force on Data Protection in International Arbitration Proceedings. The task force will develop guidance for arbitration professionals with regard to data protection in arbitration proceedings. This guidance, which is expected to be published for comment later this year or in early 2020, aims provide practical guidance on the potential impact of data protection principles. In particular, it will recommend how information and evidence subject to the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”) is to be handled in international arbitration proceedings.…
In order to minimize the risk of litigation arising from investments in the United States, sovereign wealth funds (“SWFs”) should take care to avoid inadvertent or unnecessary waiver of sovereign immunity–before they establish operational or investment management presence in the United States. SWFs generally benefit from sovereign immunity in the United States under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (“FSIA”). As an agency or instrumentality of foreign state, they are generally entitled to immunity from the jurisdiction of the U.S. courts. However, an SWF may lose or limit its sovereign immunity where the SWF: (1) is involved in “commercial activities” in…
When asked why they choose to resolve their disputes through international arbitration, parties often identify confidentiality as an important factor. While the parties may think their arbitration is confidential, in many cases, the proceeding is merely private. In the context of arbitration, privacy and confidentiality are not necessarily the same. Privacy means that arbitration proceedings are not open to the public, but privacy does not preclude the parties from disclosing the proceedings to third parties. Confidentiality, by contrast, means the parties (and the arbitrators) may not disclose the proceedings to third parties or the public, including evidence, written submissions, arbitral…
In a long-awaited ruling of June 18, 2019, the General Court of the European Union (“GCEU”) annulled the European Commission’s 2015 State aid decision in the Micula case (joined cases T-624/15, T-694/15 and T-704/15). The ruling provides valuable clarifications regarding the relationship between intra-EU bilateral investment treaties (“BIT”) and EU State aid rules. In sum, the GCEU confirmed that the European Commission lacked jurisdiction to apply EU law in a situation where all relevant events took place before accession to the EU. The validity of intra-EU BITs was not at issue because, during the relevant time period, the BIT…
For various reasons–including fairness, efficiency, and avoiding inconsistent results–courts and arbitration tribunals apply a range of procedural tools to discourage parties from pursuing multiple, separate dispute resolution proceedings between the same parties over related claims arising from a single dispute. In cases involving foreign investment within the coverage of an investment treaty, such as a bilateral investment treaty (BIT) or free trade agreement, however, the investing party may have compelling reasons to simultaneously pursue commercial arbitration pursuant to contract, and investment arbitration pursuant to treaty. And unlike other situations where courts and tribunals may look askance at parallel proceedings, the…
As discussed in a previous blog post, an interested party in a foreign or international proceeding may apply to a United States District Court for discovery from an individual or corporation who resides or is found in the district. This blog describes the procedural steps for pursuing or responding to discovery requests under 28 U.S.C. § 1782. The operative language of section 1782(a) provides: The district court of the district in which a person resides or is found may order him to give his testimony or statement or to produce a document or other thing for use in a…
The International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) has released its 2018 caseload statistics.  In 2018 ICSID registered a record 56 new cases, as compared to 53 cases registered in 2017.  Since the first case in 1972 ICSID has registered 706 cases in total. The new cases are concentrated in few sectors, with disputes in the oil, gas and mining sector accounting for 21% of cases registered in 2018, followed by electric power and other energy sources at 20% and construction at 14%.…
The International Organizations Immunities Act of 1945  (“IOIA”) grants international organizations such as the World Bank and the World Health Organization the “same immunity from suit and every form or judicial process as is enjoyed by foreign governments.”  However, at the time the IOIA was enacted, foreign governments enjoyed virtually absolute immunity from suit, while that immunity is more limited today.  So, what is the meaning of “is” in the IOIA?  Does IOIA grant international organizations the virtually absolute immunity that foreign governments enjoyed when the IOIA was enacted, or the more restricted immunity they enjoy today?  …
In the United States, parties may agree in their contract not only to submit future disputes to arbitration but to also submit “arbitrability” questions to an arbitrator.  In practice, such delegation (if properly made) means that the tribunal, instead of the court, would decide not only the merits of the parties’ dispute but also the threshold arbitrability questions that may arise, such as whether the parties have agreed to arbitrate or whether their arbitration agreement applies to and covers the particular dispute between the parties. …