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Urbaser v. Argentina

Type of decisionDecision on claimants' proposal to disqualify Professor Campbell McLachlan
Date of decision12 August 2010
Andreas Bucher (President)
Pedro J. Martinez-Fraga
Legal instrumentBIT between Argentina and Spain (1991)
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Statements from this decision

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The Spanish version of Article 14 ICSID Convention refers to impartiality, contrary to the English and French version, which refer to independence; as all three languages are equally authentic, the versions are to be construed as equivalent
Generally, an arbitrator's mere opinions, e.g. academic views on legal interpretation, even if relevant to the arbitration, are not sufficient to sustain a challenge for lack of independence or impartiality
No arbitrator is absolutely independent and impartial; thus, the relevant issue is whether he or she can consider the merits of each case without relying on factors having no relation to such merits
A position on legal interpretation does not constitute a "prejudice in relation to the subject-matter of the dispute" within the meaning of the IBA Rules of Ethics
An appearance of bias from a reasonable third person's point of view is sufficient to justify doubts about an arbitrator's independence or impartiality
A distinction between "general" and "specific" views, as suggested by the IBA Guidelines, is of little value when considering academic work
External texts, such as the IBA Guidelines on Conflicts of Interest in International Arbitration, can be a valuable source of inspiration, but not part of the legal basis of a disqualification decision


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