I had the interesting experience yesterday of attending the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Select Committee at Parliament in Wellington.

I was appearing in my capacity as President of AMINZ, and head of AMINZ International, along with Deborah Hart, the Executive Director, and Simon Foote, a colleague from Bankside Chambers who practises in investor state arbitration.  We were allocated 15 minutes from 10.00 am, which is tight for such a potentially complicated and controversial topic.

What became almost immediately apparent is that, apart from William Rolleston of Federated Farmers, few if any of the submitters actually knew much about investor-state dispute settlement, or arbitration generally.  When I pointed out in my opening remarks that much of the comments to date over ISDS had been “unhelpful” and had not really made a positive contribution to the debate, this prompted a rebuke from Green’s MP, Dr Kennedy Graham, that this was not a kind way to refer to submitters.  He smiled when I pointed out to him that we were certainly not casting aspersions on the submitters, but commenting generally about the quality of the debate.

Arbitration is the preferred method of resolving commercial disputes, and is thinly effective means of resolving disputes concerning cross-border transactions.  In relation to ISDS, the TPPA contains more protection for Staes than rights for multi-national investors, and the statistics over ISDS arbitration really does not bear out the pessimistic predictions published to date.

It is fair to say that the Members were very interested in our presentation, and both Simon and I were peppered with questions over issues ranging from arbitral appointments, the reputed cabal of arbitrators making secretive awards, and the cost of arbitration under ISDS. The Committee ran out of time after 45 minutes, and asked us if we would be able to provide further information if required.  All in all, it was an interesting trip, well worth the time and effort.

A copy of our submission is attached.

TPPA – AMINZ Information to Select Committee-FINAL