ICSID issues Practice Notes for Respondents in ICSID Arbitration aimed at helping states avoid investment disputes and demystifying ICSID procedure

ICSID has published Practice Notes for Respondents in ICSID Arbitration (the "Notes"), a 31 page practical guidance note on ICSID arbitration brought under the ICSID Convention or the ICSID Additional Facility Rules. The Notes aim to answer the questions most frequently asked of ICSID by respondent states and investors. In particular, they are intended to assist "novice" states who have never participated in an investment claim before, although their content will be of interest to prospective investor claimants too. The Notes are available in English, French and Spanish.

The Notes begin by considering conflict prevention mechanisms to help states avoid the prospect of an Investment Treaty claim. This section considers points such as:

  • the importance of careful drafting in investment treaties to ensure the scope of their protections are clear; and
  • preventing disputes arising by developing an awareness of investment obligations within government.

The next section of the Notes moves to consider the pre-arbitration phase of an investment dispute. It looks at how notice of a dispute is given by an investor and how states should respond to such notice. It stresses that states "should pro-actively assess the cost-benefit of settlement as soon as they receive notice of a dispute", whether informally through discussions or through formal negotiation, mediation or early neutral evaluation. The section also considers how a state can best prepare once it has become aware of a possible dispute, including developing a case and media strategy, choosing legal counsel and budgeting for legal costs.

The main portion of the Notes aims to demystify the procedural steps in an ICSID arbitration, setting out the typical sequence of the arbitration from the Request of Arbitration through to the Post Award phase. The analysis focuses on aspects of procedure which may be important to a Respondent while arbitral proceedings are ongoing, suggesting factors that may guide the state's position and providing an occasional warning of consequences (e.g. that non-participation will not prevent the formation of a Tribunal). The Notes also offer guidance on the typical split of costs between legal counsel, Tribunal and ICSID fees.

For all sections there is a list of further reading for those interested in more detail.


This is a useful publication pitched at true ICSID novices, offering both practical and tactical advice for states in how to avoid disputes and prepare effectively when disputes do arise. It also seeks to guide those states through the ICSID process. While relatively high-level, the Notes, together with the additional reading guide in each section, offer a strong foundation for those states with limited awareness of investment arbitration to educate their officials and approach future claims from a firmer foundation of knowledge. In particular, the Notes have the potential to help states to avoid taking steps that may, in the long term, harm their position. Those with practical experience of ICSID arbitration will likely be aware of the majority of what is contained in the Notes, but they may also find one or two helpful reminders or suggestions of matters to think about.

Iain Maxwell
Iain Maxwell
Of Counsel
+44 20 7466 2646
Maximilian Szymanski
Maximilian Szymanski
+44 20 7466 2596

The human right to water: defences to investment treaty violations

At times, and for a variety of reasons, states will regulate the market in the furtherance of public-policy objectives—including to implement specific human rights obligations. Where investment agreements are in place, these kinds of measures may trigger an investor’s claim for breach by the state of its treaty obligations. Over the course of the last few decades, these hitherto distinct areas of international law protecting international investment on the one hand, and human rights on the other, have intersected with increasing regularity. Investment arbitration tribunals tasked with adjudicating a state’s conduct vis-a`-vis its treaty obligations are now engaging in in-depth analyses of international human rights issues, including questions of applicability and substance. This article charts the development of the ‘right to water’ as a stand-alone human right in international legal jurisprudence and examines the future implications arising from key international policy developments.

A link to the full article is here.

The article is published in Arbitration International, the official journal of the London Court of International Arbitration (pub. OUP).

For further information, please contact Bree Farrugia, Senior Associate or your usual Herbert Smith Freehills contact.

Bree Farrugia
Bree Farrugia
Senior Associate
+81 3 5412 5471

ICSID Publishes Latest Caseload Statistics

The International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) has recently released its latest statistics concerning the cases brought under its auspices.

The report provides a number of interesting statistics on cases registered by ICSID historically, and in the year 2013, including; the distribution by economic sector; the basis of consent invoked to establish ICSID jurisdiction, the geographic distribution of cases by state party involved and the outcomes of cases decided and settled or otherwise discontinued.

The report is published twice a year and can be found here.

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