| BOSTON -- Law students from around the world will descend on Suffolk University Law School Nov. 1 to take part in a first-ever international moot court competition focused on the rapidly growing legal field of foreign direct investment.
There has been an explosion of disputes between private investors and foreign countries in recent years. Such disputes can involve hundreds of millions of dollars and raise challenging legal issues at the juncture of public and private international law. They’ve also sparked a growing area of practice for many law firms.
More than 20 law schools from around the world will send teams of students to Suffolk to compete in the inaugural Foreign Direct Investment International Moot Competition (FDI Moot). Teams will represent both investors and host countries in a hypothetical dispute concerning a large foreign investment.
The first FDI Moot has attracted teams from Australia, Argentina, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Georgia, Hong Kong, India, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia and the United States (there are eight teams from U.S. law schools).
The FDI Moot Competition was established by Suffolk Law School and four international co-founding institutions in response to the increasing pace of companies’ investments in the global economy.
Suffolk University Law School Professor Christopher Gibson, who has worked to establish the FDI Moot, said that those foreign investments have encouraged the rapid development of a new field of international law addressing a host countries’ obligation to foreign investors and establishing new arbitration procedures for resolving the related disputes that can arise.
“The FDI Moot promotes an understanding of international investment laws and arbitration as an effective mechanism for settling these investment disputes,” Gibson said. “The FDI Moot will provide students with valuable knowledge of the legal issues and first-hand experience while they act as advocates during the competition.”
Investor claims are being brought against many different countries in under relevant bilateral investment treats (BITs) that contain dispute settlement arbitration provisions.
Examples of recent major investor-state cases brought by U.S. companies include:
• Exxon Mobil Corp. brought an investor-state claim against Venezuela for alleged violations of the Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) between Venezuela and the United States based on claims that Venezuela took over an Exxon oil field as part of the country’s nationalization drive. Exxon won a freeze on $12 billion in Venezuelan assets from an English court in February so that cash would be available if Exxon went on to win the investor-State arbitration. The English court lifted the freeze in May.
• Occidental Petroleum Corp. is seeking more than $2 billion in damages against the Republic of Ecuador for alleged violations of the Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT). Occidental claims that actions by the Ecuadorian government violated the protective standards for foreign investors.
• Continental Casualty Co., an Illinois company, was awarded $2.8 million Sept. 5 for a claim against Argentina. While two of Continental Casualty’s other claims were dismissed, it prevailed on a claim that Argentina violated the “fair and equitable treatment” provision of the BIT between the United States and Argentina.
FDI Moot Competition Partners
Suffolk University Law School is a co-founder of the FDI Moot Competition, along with the Center for International Legal Studies in Salzburg, Austria; Pepperdine University Law School in California; the University of Dundee in Scotland; and the German Institution of Arbitration Cologne, Germany.
The international law firm of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP is the exclusive law firm sponsor of the FDI Moot. The Competition’s prize is named the Skadden, Arps Trophy.
Oxford University Press will sponsor the Oxford University Press Award for Best Written Claimant and Respondent Memorials. Transnational Dispute Management will act as the FDI Moot’s media partner.
Symposium on Investor-State Arbitration
Suffolk Law School also will also host the lawyers, academics and students from around the world at a symposium, Investor-State Arbitration: Perspectives on Legitimacy and Practice, on Friday, Oct. 31, preceding the FDI Moot.
The event includes a lineup headlined by Judge Stephen Schwebel, former president of the International Court of Justice, and Professor Jose Alvarez of Columbia University Law School, former president of the American Society of International Law.
The symposium will give those gathered an opportunity to discuss the latest developments in international investment regulation and dispute resolution. It is co-sponsored by the American Society of International Law and the law firm of Dechert LLP. The papers from this conference will be published in a special symposium issue of Suffolk's Transnational Law Review.