Investment arbitrations involving bribery and corruption: some preliminary considerations

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Author: Stratis Georgilas

DOI: 10.21128/2226-2059-2020-1-24-32

Keywords: corruption on jurisdiction; international customary norm; legality of investment; OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions; role and responsibility of Arbitrators; universal public interest


The OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions was the product of serious debate, for there was a pressing need to reshape the legislative framework in international transactions, investments included. Alas, its conventional scope extends to approximately one third of the international community. An investor tainted by unlawful activity is barred from relying on the protection offered by a treaty. Tribunals seem to recognize and adhere to the maxim de minimis non curat praetor: only serious violations of fundamental norms and principles qualify. The use of the so-called “red flags”, codified mainly by the OECD and the World Bank had been met with approval, especially for establishing clear and efficient criteria and presumptions against bribery and corruption. Certain issues of “international public policy”, such as the prohibition of bribery and corruption in foreign investment, identified consistently by arbitral tribunals, have found their way into the body of customary international law. In this paper, the author explores how investment arbitration deals with bribery and corruption, especially when the latter arise in the course of (arbitration) proceedings, with the author focusing on the role and responsibilities of the arbitrators. The author also addresses some procedural issues, namely the issue of the impact of bribery and corruption on the legitimacy of investments and the jurisdiction of the arbitrators. The main conclusions reached by the author of the article are the following: firstly, international law, which regulates in detail the issues of combating bribery and corruption, has influenced the legal systems of different countries through changes and unification of their domestic legislation in this area, and, secondly, that the issues of “international public order”, such as bribery and corruption, consistently identified by the competent arbitration tribunals and based on the provisions allowing for arbitration, are reflected in the body of the international customary common law. This paper consists of three distinct parts, namely: 1) corruption and its consequences on investments, 2) a unified duty to investigate and the role of arbitrators and 3) some concluding remarks on the transgression of certain arbitral findings into the realm of customary international law.

About the author: Stratis Georgilas – LL.M., Head of Chambers of the Athens’ Bar, Athens, Greece.

Citation: Georgilas S. (2020) Mezhdunarodnyy investitsionnyy arbitrazh, svyazannyy s voprosami vzyatochnichestva i korruptsii: nekotorye predvaritel'nye soobrazheniya [Investment arbitrations involving bribery and corruption: some preliminary considerations]. Mezhdunarodnoe pravosudie, vol.10, no.1, pp.24–32. (In Russian).


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