ICSID annual report shows shift towards remote hearings
In October, the International Centre of Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) released its annual report for the fiscal year from 1 July 2020 to 30 June 2021.
Always an interesting read, the annual report gives context to developments and trends in the investment arbitration world, any industry-specific issues and whether those translated into more disputes or if a sector found innovative solutions to them.
Some courts adapted well and swiftly to the novel circumstances brought about by the pandemic. For example, the High Court of England and Wales managed to conduct around 80% of its regular work, and the UK Supreme Court did not have to adjourn a single case.
Still, it is possible (and likely) that the Covid pandemic affected current proceedings. Seventy new cases were registered this year, which confirms the growing trend of investment cases administered by the court.
In terms of the distribution of cases registered in FY2021 by industry sectors, the three champions remain unchallenged, namely: oil, gas and mining; construction; and electric power and other energy.
The report notes improvements in respect of gender diversity: half of the arbitrators who were appointed for the first time were women, and 31% of all the appointees in FY2021 were also women – the highest figure in the past five years. ICSID appointed 37% of all women on tribunals in cases reported in FY2021, while parties appointed 57% of female arbitrators, either separately or jointly. The remaining 6% of appointments were made by co-arbitrators.
The lack of cultural diversity is a wider issue in international arbitration and not specific to investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) cases. Still, they carry a heavier load for a system dealing with the diffuse interests of numerous people around the world.
How Covid affected the cases administered by ICSID
The number of cases concluded last year was smaller than in the two previous years, interrupting a historical trend from ICSID on resolving more matters each year.
The obvious way to address this problem is to invest in technology and digital proceedings, including virtual and hybrid hearings, with high-level providers to avoid any disruption in the shift to remote proceedings.
ICSID has already devoted a lot of energy and resources to technology and remote hearing facilities.
This article is based on an original article by Opus 2: https://insight.opus2.com/