Selection and Appointment of Tribunal Members - ICSID Convention Arbitration (2022 Rules)

Once the number of arbitrators and the method of their appointment have been determined, the arbitrators may be appointed. If the parties are unable to appoint all members of the Tribunal pursuant to the established method of appointment, the ICSID default mechanism may apply.

Parties are not required to select arbitrators from the ICSID Panel of Arbitrators, although they are welcome to do so.

The Convention provides certain requirements regarding the nationality and qualifications of appointees to ICSID Tribunals, but the parties are otherwise free to choose whomever they wish.

Requirements for Appointees

Nationality Requirement

A majority of arbitrators on a Tribunal must be nationals of States other than the State party to the dispute and the State whose national is a party to the dispute (Article 39 of the Convention and Arbitration Rule 13(2) and (3)).

The nationality requirement does not apply if the sole arbitrator or each individual member of the Tribunal is appointed by agreement of the parties.

If a Tribunal consists of three members, an arbitrator cannot have the same nationality as either party, unless both parties agree to that appointment.

In practice, this means that:

  • A sole arbitrator may not have the same nationality as either party unless both parties agree
  • If each party proposes to appoint a person of an excluded nationality (as approved by the other party), the parties must also agree on the appointment of the President of the Tribunal.

Arbitrator Qualifications

All ICSID arbitrators must be persons:

  • of high moral character
  • with recognized competence in the fields of law, commerce, industry or finance
  • who may be relied upon to exercise independent judgment (Article 14(1) and Article 40(2) of the ICSID Convention).

Additional Considerations for Selecting Arbitrators

In addition to the requirements established by the Convention, there are practical considerations that parties should consider when selecting an arbitrator. These include:  

  • knowledge of the relevant law
  • absence of conflict of interest
  • experience as an arbitrator
  • language proficiency
  • availability of the arbitrator
  • ability to meet case timelines
  • cohesiveness of the Tribunal
  • other areas of expertise

Appointing an Arbitrator

The parties should provide ICSID with the full name, nationality and contact information (i.e., mailing address, telephone and fax numbers, email) for each arbitrator (Arbitration Rule 19).

ICSID also requests the curriculum vitae of the appointee.

Once an arbitrator is appointed, ICSID seeks the appointee’s acceptance of the nomination. The Secretary-General then notifies the parties of the appointee’s acceptance or refusal.

If an arbitrator accepts the appointment, he/she must provide a signed declaration in the form published by ICSID, including any disclosures (Arbitration Rule 19(3)(b)).

If an arbitrator declines the appointment, or fails to accept the appointment and provide the signed declaration within 20 days, ICSID will invite the appointing party to nominate another arbitrator in accordance with the method followed for the previous appointment (Arbitration Rule 19(5)).

Replacement of Arbitrators Prior to Constitution of the Tribunal

Before the constitution of the Tribunal, an arbitrator may withdraw his/her acceptance, a party may replace an arbitrator whom it appointed, or the parties may agree to replace any arbitrator (Arbitration Rule 20).

If an arbitrator nomination is withdrawn, ICSID will invite the party that appointed that person to nominate another arbitrator in accordance with the method followed for his/her appointment.

Assistance of the Secretary-General with Appointment

The parties may request the assistance of the Secretary-General with an appointment at any time. This could concern the appointment of a Sole Arbitrator, the President of the Tribunal, or all members of a Tribunal.

The Secretary-General’s involvement may be in accordance with the parties’ agreement on the method of constituting the Tribunal (e.g., the parties agree that the President is to be appointed by the Secretary-General), or on an ad hoc basis when they are unable to agree. For example, if the parties are to jointly appoint the President of the Tribunal but are unable to agree on the President, they can request the Secretary-General’s assistance before resorting to the default procedure in Article 38 of the ICSID Convention.

The parties may stipulate any considerations they would like the Secretary-General to take into account in the appointment process.

If the parties do not indicate any particular method of appointment, the Secretary-General may propose a procedure such as a ballot or a list procedure.

A ballot proceeds as follows:

  • ICSID provides the parties with a ballot form containing the names of several candidates
  • Each party is given a date for return of its completed ballot form, indicating the candidates it accepts or rejects
  • A party is not required to share its completed ballot with the other party
  • If the parties agree on a candidate from the ballot, that person will be deemed to have been appointed by agreement of the parties
  • If the parties agree on more than one proposed candidate, ICSID selects one of them and informs the parties of the selection. 

A list procedure proceeds as follows:

  • ICSID provides the parties with a list of several candidates
  • Each party can strike a certain number of candidates and rank the remaining candidates
  • The candidate with the best ranking is appointed or, if two or more candidates have the same ranking, ICSID selects one of them.

Any appointment pursuant to a procedure proposed by the Secretary-General is considered an appointment by agreement of the parties under the established method for constituting the Tribunal

If the procedure does not lead to an appointment, the parties can request additional assistance from the Secretary-General under Arbitration Rule 17 or proceed under the default mechanism in Article 38 of the ICSID Convention.

Default Mechanism for Appointing an Arbitrator

If the parties are unable to appoint all members of the Tribunal within 90 days after registration of the Request for arbitration, either party may ask that the Chair of the ICSID Administrative Council appoint the arbitrator(s) not yet appointed (Article 38 of the ICSID Convention, Arbitration Rule 18). Alternatively, the parties may agree to a different period or procedure.

If the request under Article 38 of the ICSID Convention concerns both a co-arbitrator and the President of the Tribunal, the Chair will first appoint the co-arbitrator (Arbitration Rule 18(2)).

The appointment by the Chair must be made from the Panel of Arbitrators. Before the candidate is appointed, the Chair consults with the parties about the candidate to be nominated, giving them an opportunity to raise any circumstance showing that the person lacks the required qualities under Article 14 of the ICSID Convention.

Until the process is completed, the parties may appoint missing arbitrators under the established method of constitution or by agreement.

The Chair will use best efforts to complete the appointment process within 30 days of the request for appointment (Arbitration Rule 18(3)).