Write On! TDM Call for Papers Special Issue on “Non-Legal Adjudicators in National and International Disputes”

We are pleased to announce a forthcoming Transnational Dispute Management (TDM, ISSN 1875-4120) special issue on “Non-Legal Adjudicators in National and International Disputes“. This special issue will analyse the current scenario, as well as new trends, developments, and challenges that non-legal adjudicators[1] face when resolving national and international disputes. It will consider litigation; national arbitration and diverse forms of alternative dispute resolution (ADR); international commercial arbitration; investment arbitration; inter-State arbitration and the dispute settlement system of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

This special issue will be edited by Katia Fach Gómez (University of Zaragoza-Spain) and Weiwei Zhang(Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies – Switzerland).

National courts and arbitration tribunals very often need to address scientific and/or technical aspects of a dispute. Arbitrators may rely on external competences – e.g., party-appointed experts or ex curiaexperts. However, nowadays there are also various areas of conflict resolution in which non-legal experts are part of the adjudicatory body, and internally provide with the required non-legal competences.[2] In the national judicial context, there are examples of specialized national courts -e.g., in the environmental dispute sector- where non-legal experts guarantee the non-legal expertise of judicial courts. In the international arbitral context, a compelling example of the appointment a scientific-technical expert as full arbitrator is provided by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the inter-State Indus Waters Kishenganga case. Non-legal neutrals are likewise relevant in commercial arbitration and in the broader field of ADR. In specialized areas such as disputes regarding construction, energy, engineering, financial services, technology and applied science cases, resorting to non-lawyers to resolve these type of disputes is a widely-used practice. It is also very remarkable that in the WTO dispute settlement system, by end of 2014, 44% of the panellists appointed have no legal background and 3 out of the 25 Appellate Body members appointed so far have no law degree.[3]

Possible topics for submission to this special issue might include:

  • Drawbacks of the external competences provided by non-legal experts to courts and arbitration tribunals;
  • Reasons supporting the participation of non-legal adjudicators, providing internal competences in national and international disputes;
  • Whether there are particular case patterns that make the participation of non-legal adjudicators especially desirable;
  • Background and expertise of these non-legal adjudicators;
  • Relevant criteria -of technical, scientific, political or sociological nature- influencing the selection and appointment of non-legal adjudicators;
  • Empirical studies dealing with participation of non-legal adjudicators in national and international disputes;
  • Whether the intervention of non-legal adjudicators should be encouraged or limited;
  • Obstacles facing non-legal adjudicators involved in national and international disputes;
  • Whether the existence of an assisting Secretariat -e.g., the WTO Secretariat- or the absence thereof has an impact on the appointment of non-legal adjudicators;
  • Attitudes from the legal milieu regarding non-legal adjudicators; and
  • Legal and non-legal reforms required to foster -or limit- the participation of non-legal adjudicators in the national and international context.

We invite all of those interested in the subject to contribute to this special issue with unpublished or previously published articles, conference papers, research papers and case studies dealing with one or more of the above topics or any other relevant issue. Interdisciplinary contributions as well as those coming from non-legal adjudicators or scholars are also welcome.

This special issue will be edited by:

Katia Fach Gómez, LL.M.
Katia Fach Gómez, LL.M.
Tenured Professor of International Arbitration and Private International Law at the University of Zaragoza (Spain).
Current grantee of the Humboldt Foundation (Forschungsstipendium für erfahrene Wissenschaftler)
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Weiwei Zhang, LL.M.
Weiwei Zhang, LL.M.
PhD candidate, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (Geneva, Switzerland).
Former consultant, Sidley Austin LLP (Geneva office)

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Contact details here

Proposals for papers should be submitted to the editors – contact details here – on or before 31 October 2016. Accepted papers should be submitted to the editors on or before 10 January 2017. Publication is expected in the second quarter of 2017.

[1] For the purpose of this special issue, non-legal adjudicators refer to adjudicators who do not possess a law degree.

[2] In this context, “internal competences” refer to the adjudicators’ competences that make up the adjudicatory body, whereas “external competences” refer to competences that the adjudicators lack. Katia Fach Gómez, ” The US-EU Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership: Should it Leave a Door Open for Non-Legal Arbitrators?”, Conflict Resolution Quarterly (2016), forthcoming.

[3] Joost Pauwelyn, “The Rule of Law without the Rule of Lawyers? Why Investment Arbitrators are from Mars, Trade Adjudicators from Venus”, The American Journal of International Law vol. 109, no. 4 (October 2015), pp. 761-805.


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