The Abuse of Process Doctrine Extended: A Tool for Right Thinking People in International Arbitration

    View Author March 2021

    The abuse of process doctrine is a recognized principle of public international law that prohibits the exercise of a procedural right in contravention of the purpose for which that right was established. This doctrine has been applied in context of investment arbitration where investors manipulate their corporate structure to gain access to jurisdiction after a dispute has become foreseeable. However, while abuse of process has become synonymous with corporate restructuring in investment arbitration, the doctrine is by no means limited to that application. Indeed, more recently, the doctrine has gained momentum as a mechanism to address the problem of multiple and successive arbitrations filed by investors against Sovereigns. This trend culminated in the Orascom v. Algeria decision, recently affirmed by an ad hoc Committee on annulment, that dismissed an investor’s claim ‘in relation to the same investment, the same measures and the same harm’. The application of abuse of process in this context, however, remains unsettled. After review, this article concludes that when an investor initiates multiple arbitrations for the sole purpose of maximizing the chances of success, investment tribunals should consider abuse of process as a means to protect the legitimacy of their proceeding and the Investor-State Dispute Settlement system as a whole.

    *Reprinted from the Journal of International Arbitration, Issue 2 (2021), pp. 187-214, with permission of Kluwer Law International.