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The dissenting opinion in BG v Argentina before the US Supreme Court

As reported earlier, the US Supreme Court has recently adjudicated on the issue of the standard of review in relation to arbitration agreements in international investment arbitration.

It is a fact that the majority of the Court has decided that deference should be given to arbitral tribunals to examine questions of procedural conditions, as it characterized the issue of litigation before the domestic courts of Argentina for 18 months before initiating arbitral proceedings. It seemed to the majority of the Court that the issue pertains to whether a duty to arbitrate arises, and not whether such a duty exists at all.

In determining the issue at hand, the majority found that the United Kingdo [...]

BITs as Contracts, and Lurking Consent Issues: BG Group v. Republic of Argentina

In BG Group v. Republic Argentina, a divided U.S. Supreme Court (“the Court”) continued to hold that arbitrators are the proper decision makers in gateway questions of arbitrability, not courts. The issue here concerned whether or not the local litigation requirement in the U.K-Argentina BIT was a procedural prerequisite to investor-state arbitration, or a necessary substantive step needed prior to the formation of an agreement to arbitrate. The Court’s decision also left open the possibility that clear language evidencing consent by a State could lead to a different outcome. Justice Sotomayor joined the majority, and wrote a separate concurrence regarding conditions of co [...]

Proving Corruption in Arbitration: Lessons to be Learned from Metal-Tech v. Republic of Uzbekistan

Factual background

On 4 October 2013 the Tribunal constituted under Metal-Tech Ltd.’s claim against Republic of Uzbekistan (G. Kauffman-Kohler, C. von Wobeser, J. Townsend) issued the award on jurisdiction in the ICSID case ARB/10/03. The peculiar factual background of the case has been previously discussed here.

The approach taken by the Tribunal in this case deserves closer attention as this is one of the few where allegations of corruption managed to have decisive influence on the outcome of the case, unlike most of the cases where bribery considerations are usually ruled out as inconclusive and unproven, although discussed in the award.

Establishing corruption

A number of tribunals ha [...]

Metal-Tech Ltd. v. Republic of Uzbekistan – Is Really No One Getting Punished?

On 4 October 2013, an ICSID tribunal rendered its decision in the investment treaty dispute between the Israeli company Metal-Tech Ltd. and Uzbekistan. In the award, the tribunal found that it lacked jurisdiction to hear the parties’ claims and counterclaims brought under the Israel-Uzbekistan BIT and Uzbek law due to corruption related to Metal-Tech’s investment in Uzbekistan. In particular, the tribunal found that payments of approximately USD 4 million made by Metal-Tech to several individuals, including an Uzbek government official and the brother of the then Prime Minister of Uzbekistan, while presented as remuneration for various consultancy services, in fact constituted corruption [...]

Joint Interpretations, a TPP Investment Chapter, and Australia

Negotiations to establish a Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement have been active and ambitious. Following 18 negotiating rounds since 2010, TPP talks now include 12 States, representing nearly 40 percent of global GDP. Scholars have observed that a TPP agreement, given its scale, could provide “staggering” economic benefits as well as a “genuine Asia-Pacific integration track.”

But the TPP negotiations, particularly with respect to the potential inclusion of an investor-State dispute settlement mechanism, have been criticized on policy grounds by certain judges, legislators, scholars, and organizations. As a legal matter, however, it is the criticism of investor-State dispute settl [...]

In the Eyes of the Beholder: Host State’s Refusal to Pay under a Contract as Breach of a BIT

and Oleg Temnikov

I. Bureau Veritas v. Republic of Paraguay

In the recent Further decision on objections to jurisdiction dated October 9, 2012 the tribunal in Bureau Veritas, Inspection, Valuation, Assessment and Control, BIVAC B.V. v. Paraguay (ICSID Case No. ARB/07/9) dismissed BIVAC’s claim based on violation of the fair and equitable standard by reasoning that the dispute relates to mere refusal to pay invoices under a pre-shipment inspection contract and that, in doing so, Paraguay has not acted “in a manner that is qualitatively different from an ordinary contracting party.” The tribunal thus upheld the traditional distinction between mere breach of contract and treaty breach st [...]

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