Site Visits - ICSID Convention Arbitration
A site visit allows a Tribunal to personally inspect a place connected with the subject matter of a dispute and conduct inquiries at that place as it deems appropriate.
A site visit may be requested by the parties or ordered by a Tribunal, upon the request of a party or on its own accord. The visit may be conducted at any stage of the proceeding (Article 43 of the Convention; Arbitration Rule 34 (2) (b)).
The Tribunal considers a number of factors when determining whether to conduct a site visit, such as the nature of the allegations at issue and whether they can be proven by other means. If the Tribunal finds that a site visit is appropriate, it issues a procedural order outlining the scope of the visit, practical aspects and logistics. The Procedural Order sets out the itinerary of the visit, the attendees and the contents of the material provided at the site (e.g., guides, maps or diagrams). Unless otherwise agreed, this material should be based on evidence in the record.
The Procedural Order may also contain a communication protocol to be followed during the visit. This protocol specifies to whom the Tribunal can ask questions, the scope of the parties' presentations and witness or expert testimony at the site. It also indicates whether the parties have the right to object, comment, cross-examine or ask follow-up questions.
A site visit can be recorded through different methods, such as audio-video tapes, photographs, minutes of the visit and transcripts. The Tribunal determines what evidence from the site visit becomes part of the record and has the discretion to decide its probative value (Arbitration Rule 34).