The World Is Not Enough
10 Pages Posted: 4 Jan 2018 Last revised: 11 Apr 2018
Date Written: December 29, 2017
If James Bond practiced law, it would be international arbitration. Don’t believe it? Just consider how many international arbitrations would make great plots for a James Bond movie.
With this starting premise, this essay uses the 007 metaphor, combined with the cinema-ready drama of actual arbitration cases, to examine the Spectre that is hanging over international arbitration.
In Bond films, the audience knows from the start of opening credits that Bond will overcome the most extreme odds to vanquish even the most nefarious villains, that he is on the side of good, and that he is battling for nothing less than the survival of the free world. The arbitration community sees itself in similarly heroic terms. But outside the community, arbitration is no longer the hero of a story about law and justice triumphing over chaos in the world. Instead, according to some, international arbitration has more recently been cast as a dark villain, a judicial overlord that aims at subverting democracy and the common good in favor of mustache-twirling corporate conglomerates and their villainous financiers.
This essay exhorts arbitration practitioners — as they tend to the needs of their clients, their organizations, their institutions, and their own professional goals—to also look beyond the most immediate, short-term self-interests. No one wants their case to become the poster child for some endemic problem or controversy in international arbitration. When one actor in a particular setting does not have the wherewithal to see or act beyond immediate strategic considerations, others should be inspired by longer-term self-interest to step in.
To make this exhortation more real, the essay examines how this advice might have altered outcomes in some of arbitration's most disruptive cases and sensational cases — HEP v. Slovenia, Yukos, and RSM v. St. Lucia.
The essay concludes with a Quantum of Solace — those professionals active in international arbitration have it within their power and have demonstrated a collective impulse to address problems through a determined self-reassessment and internal recalibration. In conclusion, it calls on international arbitration practitioners to make that collective impulse an express commitment, at both collective and personal levels. Such a commitment will ensure that, for international arbitration, Tomorrow Never Dies.
Keywords: 007, international arbitration, professional responsibility, investment arbitration
JEL Classification: K33
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation