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Bifurcation in International Investment Arbitration

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Title: Bifurcation in International Investment Arbitration
Author(s): Lampela, Iris
Contributor: University of Helsinki, Faculty of Law
Degree program: Master's Programme in Law
Specialisation: Private International Law
Language: English
Acceptance year: 2021
The thesis explores bifurcation and its impact on allocation of costs in investor-State arbitration. Bifurcation refers to the splitting of issues into two or more separate phases in the course of the proceedings. In the context of investment arbitration, bifurcation typically concerns the split between jurisdiction and merits. On one hand, separate determination might narrow the scope of the dispute or lead to the dismissal of the case in its entirety. On the other hand, unsuccessful bifurcation adds significantly to the time and costs of the proceedings. Because of this dilemma, bifurcation has been characterized as one of the most important procedural questions an investment tribunal can make. Firstly, the thesis aims to answer how bifurcation can be used as a procedural tool in investor-State arbitration. Bifurcation is examined within the normative framework of the ICSID Convention, the ICSID Arbitration (Additional Facility) Rules and the UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules. In addition, the problems related to partial awards on bifurcated issues regarding their possible challenges and res judicata effects are presented. The strategic use of bifurcation by the parties in order to advance their positions in the course of the proceedings is also explored. Secondly, the thesis analyzes what the tribunal has to take into account in its assessment when deciding whether to bifurcate the proceedings. In the absence of a legal test in the chosen arbitration rules, the tribunal has to base its assessment on broad legal principles such as efficiency, equality of the parties as well as the reasonable opportunity to present one’s case. The legal test on bifurcation developed by the tribunal in Glamis Gold v. U.S. is also examined. In order to grasp the procedural and financial dimensions of bifurcation more profoundly, the third research question seeks answers to the impact bifurcation has on the allocation of costs. The cost allocation regime in investment arbitration, in turn, is rather inconsistent and the tribunal has a wide discretion in allocating the costs. Special attention is given to two ICSID cases where bifurcation has played a role in cost allocation: Caratube v. Kazakhstan and Iberdrola v. Guatemala. The underlying motivation for the thesis is tripartite: it aims to contribute to the somewhat lacking research of procedural questions in investment arbitration, create solutions to the reduced cost-effectiveness of ISDS as well as to clarify the doctrine regarding allocation of costs. These objectives are pursued by utilizing the legal dogmatic method. Contextual background for the research of investor-State arbitration is also provided, namely by addressing the peculiar nature of investment arbitration as a hybrid between international law and commercial arbitration as well as the critique ISDS continues to face. The thesis concludes that while bifurcation may be an apt procedural vehicle to cut time and costs, it should be applied with due consideration and with a high certainty that splitting the proceedings will discard some or all of the claims. The impact of bifurcation on cost allocation should not be exaggerated, as it is merely one factor the tribunal may take into account when allocating the costs. It is suggested that the tribunal should not automatically burden either of the parties due to unsuccessful bifurcation in its award on costs, as the ex ante evaluation of the likelihood of the success of splitting the proceedings is rather difficult. When allocating the costs of unsuccessful bifurcation, the tribunal should assess the reasonableness of the request or objection to bifurcation as at the time it was made, not merely with the insight gained in retrospect.
Keyword(s): investor-State arbitration bifurcation allocation of costs

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