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[Lecture] The Professionalization of International Arbitrators: Past, Present, and Prospects
Feb. 22, 2024
Speaker: Fernando Dias Simões

Time: 19:00-20:30 p.m., February 22, 2024, GMT+8

Venue: 301, STL Building, PKU


International arbitration (both commercial and investor-state) is increasingly professionalized. While arbitrators have traditionally regulated themselves through uncontested soft law instruments, those appointed to adjudicate investment disputes face growing scrutiny and suspicion. Many stakeholders believe that the system’s institutional design creates perverse economic incentives, leading adjudicators to adopt strategic behaviours and biasing their decision-making processes. UNCITRAL’s discussion on a draft code of conduct for arbitrators in investment disputes represents a shift from self- to external regulation of this sector of legal practice. Since the arbitral community did not effectively address perceived market deficiencies, the codification process is now led by governments, not professionals. This is a close-knit community where boundaries between legal professions are blurred and some individuals wear different hats. The establishment of stricter ethical standards may set clearer limits to the ‘jurisdiction’ of each profession, fostering market specialisation and segmentation. The adoption of a code of conduct may also be followed by other traditional markers of professionalization. Without engaging in futurology, this presentation argues that this reform will have a significant impact on the community of lawyers involved in the resolution of international disputes and reshape the way they interact with each other.

Source: School of Transnational Law, PKU