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Global arbitration: French and British lawyers dominate appointments to ICSID arbitrations

Traditionally dominated by US lawyers, French and British arbitrators trumped their North American rivals last year by securing more arbitral appointments at the World Bank’s International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID).

While US lawyers have received the most appointments in ICSID history, with 173 appointments, French and British arbitrators are gaining ground. Nineteen French arbitration lawyers were selected to decide on cases at ICSID, which handles investor claims against states, with 11 panel places handed to British lawyers.

Although only one more appointment for British lawyers at ICSID compared to last year, they made up a larger share of arbitral appointments in 2014 given the fewer needed following the peak in case registration in 2012.

Essex Court Chambers and 20 Essex Street were the only sets to have more than one arbitrator secure appointment on ICSID tribunals in 2014 with V V Veeder QC,  Vaughan Lowe QC, and Toby Landau QC, and William Rowley QC and Sir Daniel Bethlehem QC selected respectively. The outgoing head of the ICC International Court of Arbitration, John Beechey, Matrix Cambers’ Philippe Sands QC and Blackstone Chambers’ Sir David Edward QC were among the other British appointments.

In 2013, French lawyers secured 27 appointments to ICSID panels, while US lawyers were selected on just 12 occasions.

The statistics highlight how lawyers in Western Europe are proving more popular with parties at Washington DC-based ICSID. Just under 50% of arbitral appointments in 2014 were citizens of Western European countries, with British lawyers were the second most commonly selected, with more appointments than their US and Spanish peers.

Overall, ICSID witnessed a fall in the number of new cases registered in 2014, with 38 new cases down on the 40 recorded in 2013 and a sharp drop on the 50 claims made in 2012.