Write On! International Business Law Scholars’ Roundtable at Brooklyn Law School (deadline June 13)

Call for Papers: 2014 International Business Law Scholars’ Roundtable at Brooklyn Law School

The Dennis J. Block Center for the Study of International Business Law will sponsor a Scholars’ Roundtable on October 10, 2014 at Brooklyn Law School. Scholars writing in a diverse range of fields related to international business law are invited to submit proposals to present works in progress for an intense day of discussion with other scholars in the field. Participants will be expected to read all papers in advance of the Roundtable and offer commentary on each of the presentations. Scholars selected for the Roundtable will receive a $500 stipend from Brooklyn Law School to defray the cost of attendance.

Requirements for Submission

– Applicants must hold a full-time tenured, tenure-track, or visitor/fellowship position at a university. Scholars from outside the U.S. are encouraged to apply. Scholars who anticipate holding a faculty appointment in the 2015-2016 academic year are also welcome.
– Applicants should submit a 3-5 – page proposal, abstract, or summary of the paper.
– All papers presented must be unpublished at the time of the Roundtable. Papers that have been accepted for publication but are not yet in print are welcome.
– Possible topics include international and comparative perspectives on:

o Banking
o Bankruptcy
o Commercial law
o Conflicts of law
o Corporate law
o Dispute resolution and arbitration
o Enforcement of judgments
o Intellectual property
o Regulation of corrupt practices
o Securities
o Shipping and maritime law
o Tax
o Trade

Applicants should submit a proposal to Robin Effron (robin.effron@brooklaw.edu) by June 13, 2014. Scholars selected to present at the Roundtable will be notified by June 30, 2014.

PluriCourts: Three Postdoctoral Research Positions

PluriCourts studies the legitimacy of international courts and tribunals from legal, political science and philosophical perspectives.
Research at PluriCourts concerns the origins of International Courts, how they function, and their effects. PluriCourts draws on these findings to assess them by principles of legitimacy, and develops plausible, sustainable models for each court and their interaction.
To address these questions, PluriCourts focuses on five sectors of international law: Human Rights, Trade, Criminal Law, Investment, and Environment.

We are pleased to announce that we are looking to fill three Postdoctoral research positions at PluriCourts, at the University of Oslo, Norway. Information may be found at the UiO website:

International Criminal Law: http://uio.easycruit.com/vacancy/1188245/70420?iso=no

International Environmental Law: http://uio.easycruit.com/vacancy/1188255/70420?iso=no

International Investment Tribunals: http://uio.easycruit.com/vacancy/1188243/70420?iso=no

Where are the Women in International Arbitration?

I am cross-posting from the Kluwer Arbitration blog which writes: “The 2014 ICCA Miami Conference, the international-arbitration community gathered to address the question, “Who are the arbitrators?” The answer, panel attendees were told, was “male, pale, and stale” – that is, a large majority of the individuals chosen to serve as international arbitrators are male, from North America or Western Europe, and generally quite senior. Whether this reality threatens the legitimacy of international arbitration and motivates the community to aspire to make arbitration more diverse and inclusive and, if so, how that goal can be reached, were the focus of the panel and the audience’s spirited discourse throughout the session.” Read the entire post at the Kluwer Arbitration Blog which is available here.

Metal-Tech Ltd. v. Republic of Uzbekistan – ‘Strike Two’ Against Investor Claimants Facing the Corruption Defense

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 USD4 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 and were illegal under Uzbek law.

The tribunal based its decision to refuse jurisdiction on Uzbekistan’s lack of consent under the BIT and the ICSID Convention to refer the dispute to ICSID arbitration. Such consent, found in Article 8(1) of the BIT, was limited to disputes “concerning an investment”, which Article 1(1) of the BIT defined as “…any kind of assets, implemented in accordance with the laws and regulations of the Contracting Party in whose territory the investment is made…”. The tribunal interpreted this requirement to mean that the investment must be made “in compliance with the law at the time when it was established” (para. 193). Since it proceeded to find on the facts that corruption took place to an extent sufficient to violate Uzbekistan law in connection with the establishment of Metal-Tech’s investment in Uzbekistan, the investment did not comply with Article 1(1) of the BIT. Therefore, the tribunal concluded that the dispute did not fall within Article 8(1), was not covered by Uzbekistan’s consent, and did not meet the consent requirement set out in Article 25(1) of the ICSID Convention (paras. 372-373).

This decision marks the second time an ICSID case has been dismissed on grounds of investor corruption. In the first case, World Duty Free Co. Ltd. v. Republic of Kenya (ICSID Case No. ARB/00/7, Award, 4 October 2006), the arbitral tribunal found that the claimant had bribed the President of Kenya to obtain a concession agreement and therefore held that the resulting agreement was unenforceable and dismissed the claimant’s claims that Kenya had breached its contractual obligations. While celebrated for vindicating international anti-corruption standards, the World Duty Free decision has also been criticized for accepting the corruption defense invoked by Kenya as a complete defense, while failing to address the more complex underlying causes of corruption in the case. Continue reading

The Jerusalem Arbitration Center: “Merchants of Peace” in the Middle East

On 18 November 2013, a momentous event in the history of international commercial arbitration took place: a first-of-its-kind arbitration institution designed to resolve commercial disputes between Israeli and Palestinian businesses was launched in East Jerusalem.

The Jerusalem Arbitration Center (“JAC”) is a private initiative supported by the Paris-based International Chamber of Commerce (“ICC”) and its renowned International Court of Arbitration, and led by the Israeli and Palestinian ICC National Committees. It is intended to increase trade and investment across this troubled border and strengthen economic integration in the region by providing neutral, efficient, and effective dispute resolution services to Israeli and Palestinians businesses. (See Catherine Rogers’ prior IntLawGrrls post on the JAC here.)

The JAC has adopted the tried and true ICC arbitration model, adjusting it to local conditions. The JAC Rules resemble the ICC Rules in many respects, including the method for nominating and appointing arbitrators, the use of Terms of References, and the scrutiny of arbitral awards by the JAC Court. The Rules were adapted, however, to reflect regional particularities and the type of disputes the JAC is expected to administer. For instance, the fees and expenses associated with JAC arbitrations were significantly reduced from those of the ICC, and the default seat of arbitration was fixed as a ‘virtual’ Paris seat (i.e., excluding parties’ ability to apply to the French courts to set aside arbitral awards, in accordance with Article 1522 of the French Code of Civil Procedure), unless the parties agree otherwise.

Moreover, in addition to adopting the jurisdictional threshold familiar from ICC practice, which requires that a JAC arbitration agreement exist prima facie, the JAC Court must also confirm three additional jurisdictional requirements under the JAC Rules before a case can be admitted. First, the amount in dispute as stated in the Request for Arbitration must not exceed $7 million; second, the dispute must be a business dispute; and third, the dispute must relate to Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, including East Jerusalem. In the event that the JAC Court finds that one or more of these conditions is not met, the dispute will be transferred to the ICC Court and be administered in accordance with the latter’s Rules of Arbitration, unless the claimant withdraws its claims or the parties agree otherwise. In special circumstances, the JAC Court may seek the approval of the ICC Court to administer a case even if one of the above conditions is not met.

To ensure neutrality, professionalism, and international presence and support, the JAC Court is comprised of nine arbitration experts, with an international President (Mr. Yves Derains), an international Vice-President (Mr. Eduardo Silva Romero), two Court Members appointed by each of ICC Israel and ICC Palestine, and three international Court Members. The Secretariat is headed by an international Secretary General (Ms. Nadia Darwazeh) and includes an Israeli and a Palestinian Deputy Secretary Generals.

Continue reading

Event Announcement: The Eritrea/Ethiopia Claims Commission: What Are the Lessons Learned for Future Claims Commissions?

I would like to let those interested (and in the DC area) know of a forthcoming event at ASIL’s Tillar House this Thursday, April 18 at 6PM.

A panel of experts will talk about the work and findings of the Eritrean Ethiopia Claims Commission, which was, as readers of this blog probably know, a very unique dispute resolution mechanism assessing state responsibility for violations of jus in bello (and jud as bellum). Parties agreed to resolve war claims through an international claims commission and the Commission awards applied and interpreted essential principles of international humanitarian law, including the Geneva Conventions, and outlined applicable standards.

Speakers include Michael J. Matheson, Professorial Lecturer in Law, George Washington University School of Law, who will also serve as moderator,  John R. Crook, Professorial Lecturer in Law, George Washington University School of Law, Professor Sean Murphy, Patricia Roberts Harris Research Professor of Law at George Washington University School of Law, and your truly, Chiara Giorgetti, Assistant Professor of Law, University of Richmond School of Law. More info on the event here. More info on the work of the Commission here.

Why are there so few women arbitrators?

The question of why women are severely under-represented in international arbitration is puzzling  (and was the issue of interesting discussion in this blog’s previous incarnation by Irene Ten Cate here). With so many qualified candidates, why are women not being nominated to sit as arbitrators in big-ticket international arbitrations?

In February 2013, our colleagues at Kluwer Arbitration Blog published the result of an interesting poll that addresses exactly this question.

The poll asked participants to rate three possible reasons why women continue to be underrepresented in arbitration. The three potential options were:

1. Generational issues: top female arbitrators and arbitration law firm partners active today graduated at a time when proportionally fewer women entered legal practice;

2. Party appointment system:  arbitrators are selected in a system that creates a barrier to entry and reinforces the status quo by favoring an elite of repeat players;

3. Time demands: the hours and travel required are incompatible with having a family and thus preclude women (who remain the main care-givers) to become arbitrators.

The data collected are analyzed in details in the blog. What is interesting is that the results of the survey depend to some extent on who replies. So, analyzing the data in terms of gender, women generally find that party-appointment is the main culprit, while men tend to distribute their response more equally among the three possible options.

Responses also vary depending on age. Thus, the 55+ age group attributes less importance to time demands, which instead are signaled as important reasons for the 31-42 age group and for the 18-30 age group.

Tellingly, party appointment was the category that both genders and all age groups ranked overall as the highest. Responses to generation issues were more difficult to explain, and one can see why as many female partners presently lead the most successful private international arbitration practice, which implies that qualified candidates exist for the most complex and high profile appointments.

Interestingly, time demands were considered to be more of an obstacle by younger generations than for older generations. Maybe this is because these are the women that are either thinking of having a family or have small children to care of, so time demands are real in their lives. One interesting question is whether time demands are assumed to be a reason by the appointing party – so that women do not get asked – or whether appointments are turned down by women because of time demands.

This remains important topic for discussion, and it would be interesting to see how we could be pro-active in finding a way to address it.