Investor-state treaties promote the law

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From Dr Todd Weiler.

Sir, Unfortunately, Paul de Clerck misunderstands both the purpose and operation of investor-state dispute settlement (Letters, March 20).

Investor-state dispute settlement is administered by international institutions such as the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague and the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes in Washington DC. Arbitral hearings are open to the public.

The protection of confidential business information in investor-state proceedings is no more uncommon than it is in the cases that are heard by local commercial courts and tribunals every day. The allegation that arbitrators are mostly corporate lawyers is also as false as the allegation that they all work for law firms with ties to investors.

In fact, most governments pick former officials and academics as arbitrators. Most investors pick private sector lawyers and academics as arbitrators. Most presiding arbitrators are independent barristers with decades of experience in disputes both between private parties and between governments. Conflicts of interest are handled just like they are in any other dispute settlement forum – domestic or international.

The truth is that investor-state treaties prevent discrimination, promote the rule of international law and discourage politicians from favouring local special interests over the broader public interest.

They cannot be used to lower legitimate regulatory standards and arbitrations held under them are fair and open. I would invite those who think otherwise to attend a few hearings, so that they can see for themselves.

Todd Weiler, Barrister and Solicitor, London, ON, Canada

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