In the past two decades, international arbitration has become the dispute resolution mechanism of choice for resolving international commercial matters.
One of the characteristics that made international arbitration so attractive was its expediency in getting matters resolved.
This saved companies a great deal of money because they were not tied up in litigation for what might seem like an eternity.
While international arbitration remains the dispute resolution mechanism of choice for many multinational companies, there are some occasional outliers where litigation might have resolved things a lot faster (BIT issues aside).
I mention this because the excellent attorneys over at Arnold & Porter just wrapped-up an epic 15 year-long investor-state arbitration on behalf of its client, the Republic of Chile.
A&P prevailed in in the case of Victor Pey Casado and President Allende Foundation v. Republic of Chile . The case began way back in 1997 at the World Bank’s International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (“ICSID”).
While the claimants had sought damages exceeding US$796 million, the tribunal awarded only US$ 10 million in the 2008 Award. The award was recently annulled by an ICSID panel of arbitrators, in a decision issued on December 18, 2012.
This epic arbitration was the longest in investor-state arbitration on record, spanning more than 15 years from the filing of the request for arbitration until the recent annulment decision.
15-years to resolve a dispute is highly unusual even in international litigation.
While the Republic of Chile matter involved complex political issues dating back to the Pinochet era, it’s a good example of how some international arbitration proceedings aren’t expedient at all.