Cairo conference: Arab views on investment arbitration
Last week’s Cairo conference on investment arbitration involving Arab states attracted some 150 people and generated lively debate. One if the speakers, SCC Legal Counsel Anja Håvedal Ipp, reports from the event here.
This year’s conference – “International Investment Arbitration involving Arab states: Issues & Challenges” – took place on 31 March in Cairo, and was jointly organized by CRCICA and SCC. Many distinguished speakers addressed the conference topic from local, regional and international perspectives. The Egyptian speakers discussed regional investment laws, treaties and dispute settlement mechanisms, while the SCC speakers focused on international trends in investor-state arbitration.
A highlight of the day was the lively discussion involving not only the speakers, but also several members of the audience. The topics that elicited the most heated debate related mainly to regional investment policy. Several speakers noted that, since 2011, there has been a significant increase in the number of claims filed by investors against Egypt, and that Egypt is now one of the most frequently occurring respondents in ICSID arbitrations overall. Panels discussed the sources of these dispute, the differences among the dispute resolution fora, and potential improvements to the current system for investor-state dispute settlement.
Mr. Nassib Ziade pointed out that Arab arbitrators are rarely appointed in investment arbitrations, and fervently argued that it is the responsibility of arbitral institutions to ensure greater diversity among arbitrators. Others responded that this is not a proper role for the arbitral institutions – rather, Arab parties should begin appointing Arab counsel and Arab co-arbitrators. Today, Arab parties to investment arbitrations are almost always represented by Western counsel, and typically appoint non-Arab arbitrators.
Ambassador Waghuih Hanafi from the Leage of Arab States gave a rare insight into the workings of the Arab Investment Court. From Magnusson Law, Mr. Christer Söderlund spoke on inconsistent and unintended interpretations of the applicable provisions.
See Mr. Söderlund's presentation here: Inconsistent and Unintended Interpretations of the Applicable Provisions
In conclusion, the conference engaged a large audience drawn from both the business and legal community in the Arab world. It sparked lively debate about investment policy in the Arab world and investment arbitration involving Arab parties – a debate that will no doubt continue at future CRCICA events.