Energy Infrastructure Disputes in SE Asia:
Testing the Waters of the SIAC Investment Arbitration Rules
On April 7, AUWCL Professor Horacio Grigera Naón inaugurated the IX edition of the LL.M. International Commercial & Investment Arbitration Moot Competition. This year the moot problem was based on the 2017 SIAC Investment Arbitration Rules, as the Singapore International Arbitration Centre was partnering with AUWCL’s Center on International Commercial Arbitration to host the competition. At the inauguration, together with Professor Grigera participated SIAC’s New York director Adriana Uson and SIAC’s deputy registrar Kevin Nash.
In his remarks, Kevin Nash offered a background of SIAC and how far the institution has come as they have completed 30 years since SIAC’s founding. He pointed out how the institution grew from administering only 2 cases in 1991 to having more than one thousand cases in 2020. SIAC is the fastest growing arbitral institution in Asia and it is widely recognised for its flexibility and effectiveness.
Adriana Uson introduced the new Investment Arbitration Rules which are in effect since 1ST January 2017. The new rules address challenges facing investment arbitration, such as inefficiency, increased costs, differences between transparency and confidentiality, and arrangements for third party funding. She also highlighted that the 2017 Investment Arbitration Rules simplified jurisdiction and appointment of emergency arbitrators.
Following this introduction to the SIAC rules, Professor Björn Arp introduced the invited panelists for a discussion about energy infrastructure disputes in SE Asia. Jane Williams, Arbitrator and Associate Professor of Law at Tsinghua University School of Law in Beijing, explained that SIAC is the first institution to provide for specialised investment arbitration rules and that their special features offer an interesting alternative for non ICSID arbitration. She laid out the legal framework for international energy infrastructure dispute settlement in the region, with a complex set of international, regional and national regulations.
Thomas Allen, Partner at Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP with extensive arbitration experience in Asia, offered advice on how to build a case under international arbitration rules. He focused on such practical questions as the strategic choices of the rules based on their various attributes, as to whether a valid claim exists that meets the evidence requirement, and—most importantly—the financial structure of the case. He emphasized the need to evaluate damages early on.
Hernando Otero, AUWCL adjunct faculty and independent international arbitrator, further emphasised the practical approach to international arbitration and the need for lawyers to be constantly prepared to react to new circumstances and challenges that present themselves during a procedure.
About the LL.M. Moot Competition
The Center on International Commercial Arbitration at American University Washington College of Law (AUWCL) organized the ninth edition of the LL.M. International Commercial Arbitration Moot Competition between April 8-9, 2022.
This unique event was created specifically for LL.M. students who are not eligible to take part in most moot competitions and seeks to foster the study of international arbitration for the resolution of international business disputes and investment disputes. Students from foreign law schools are also eligible to participate as long as they have a law degree and are enrolled in postgraduate law studies. Because the participants are often highly experienced practitioners who decided to go back to law school to peruse an LL.M. degree, the event is highly competitive and of a great quality.
This year the University of Pittsburg prevailed among eight teams from 6 law schools including American University Washington College of Law, Fordham University Law School; Georgetown University Law Center; The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law; University of Pittsburgh School of Law; and University of Missouri - Kansas City School of Law. WCL team 1 finished second and Trishala Dessai, won the best oralist award.
The overall winner of this year’s edition was the team from Pittsburg Law School and Trishala Dessai from WCL team 1, won the best oralist award. The AUWCL teams consisted of Trishala Dessai and Deborah Ekweozoh (Honorable Mention); Aishwarya Ponugoti, Edwin Alvarez Roman, Ganeshwar Matcha, Konstantin Mishin; Sakshi Solanki (Honorable Mention); Shalala Valiyeva and Deborah Ekweozoh. The teams were coached by LL.M. student Robert Cimmino and Elitza Popova-Talty of EKPLAW.