Academic tradition


LALIVE is renowned for its academic activities. Permanent and significant contributions to professional journals, and since 2007 the annual LALIVE Lecture co-hosted with the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (HEID), largely contribute to the reputation of the firm’s lawyers in various fields. Several partners and associates of the firm also deliver lectures and courses in various universities in Switzerland and abroad, and have contributed in a significant way to new legislation and doctrine, particularly in the field of international arbitration.

Each year, the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (HEID) and LALIVE organise and co-host the LALIVE Lecture at the HEID. The first one took place in 2007. 

The purpose of the lecture series is to create a forum for intellectual reflection on recent developments in the interface between public and private international law. The series is named in honor of Me Jean-Flavien Lalive and Professor Pierre Lalive, two prominent Geneva lawyers and founders of the LALIVE firm, who have dedicated their professional and academic careers to the interaction between these two fields.

2016: Sir Michael Wood, “Choosing between arbitration and a permanent court – lessons from inter-State cases”

The tenth annual LALIVE Lecture was held on 12 July 2016 at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, Switzerland. Sir Michael Wood delivered a talk titled “Choosing between arbitration and a permanent court – lessons from inter-State cases”.

As an initial matter, Sir Michael noted that his topic, the choice between arbitration and a permanent court, could refer to two different choices: first, a State’s initial choice to sign up to a system providing for arbitration, a permanent court, or both (as in the case of UNCLOS); and second, the choice of a party to a particular dispute between available fora. His lecture would focus on the latter.

Sir Michael’s overarching message was that while there are practical differences between arbitration and permanent courts, the similarities are more important, and both mechanisms are satisfactory methods of achieving legal justice in inter-State disputes. Examining the various differences, he demonstrated that some could weigh either in favour of or against each mechanism, and that others were perhaps less significant than they appeared.

One broad difference, he observed, is that permanent courts – particularly the International Court of Justice (“ICJ”) – may be seen as having a higher status than ad hoc arbitral tribunals. As a result, a State may be less likely to reject an ICJ judgment than an arbitral award, although both are legally binding; thus the choice of forum can be crucial to compliance. The institutional nature of a permanent court may also weigh against it, however: where a party has a negative prior association with a given institution, it may prefer an ad hoc arbitral tribunal that is free of political baggage.

The effects of more concrete differences, too, may be equivocal. For example, permanent courts tend to be significantly larger than arbitral tribunals – fifteen to seventeen judges at the ICJ and 21 to 23 judges at the International Tribunal of the Law of the Sea (“ITLOS”), versus three to five arbitrators on an arbitral tribunal. The larger size can be seen as either a pro or a con. On the one hand, it is sometimes complained that having too many judges leads to excessive compromise and limited reasoning in judgments, whereas a smaller arbitral tribunal may be able to provide more rigorous legal reasoning. On the other hand, a large majority can lend authority to a decision. And useful exchanges between Bench and counsel are more likely with a smaller body.

Sir Michael mentioned that one option is a smaller chamber within a permanent court and queried whether this might be the best of both worlds. A chamber can temper the large size of the court and allow a degree of control over the composition, while offering the procedural certainty and lower cost of a permanent court.

Sir Michael also called into doubt some of the conventional wisdom about the advantages of arbitration. One of the striking distinctions of arbitration is the ability to appoint an arbitrator rather than accepting a predetermined court (notwithstanding some limited possibility to appoint an ad hoc judge before permanent courts), but Sir Michael questioned how crucial the choice of an arbitrator really is. While it may be easy to determine whom to rule out, making a positive selection is largely guesswork, as it is usually impossible to know how an arbitrator will decide a given case. He similarly suggested that the notion that arbitration gives the parties control over the procedure may be illusory: although it is true at the initial stage, once the proceedings are underway the procedure rests in the arbitral tribunal’s hands, without the certainty of rules established for a permanent court.

He then addressed other specific differences, pointing out potential convergences between court and arbitral practice. For instance, third-party intervention is clearly permitted before the ICJ and ITLOS, while it is widely thought to be impossible in arbitration; however, Sir Michael observed that no principle prohibits such a practice, and it is possible that inter-State arbitral tribunals may permit it if not expressly excluded. The ICJ and ITLOS also have clear rules for interim measures and bifurcation of proceedings, whereas interim measures and bifurcation are done on a case-by-case basis in arbitration. Moreover, an arbitral tribunal must be constituted before it can deal with interim measures, which is a point in favour of permanent courts; however, ITLOS has provisions for pre-constitution interim measures, and can thus provide support before an UNCLOS arbitral tribunal is formed. As concerns confidentiality, arbitration seems to be moving toward greater transparency, with States even seeming to welcome publicity.

Sir Michael questioned whether courts contribute more to international law than arbitral tribunals, or that courts follow their own case law more. While there may be some truth there, he said, arbitral tribunals have also made important contributions to international law, and arbitral tribunals now more and more quote each other’s reasoning, recognising the need for consistency.

Having analysed the differences, Sir Michael turned to the similarities between arbitration and permanent courts in inter-State cases. In particular, the jurisdiction of both arbitral tribunals and courts depends on consent; both generally have the power to determine their own jurisdiction (competence-competence); both arbitral awards and court judgments are final and binding; and both arbitral awards and court judgments are usually based on international law. In his view, these fundamental similarities outweigh the practical differences to which he had referred.

Finally, Sir Michael commented briefly on proposals to establish new permanent courts, such as a world environmental court, an international human rights court, and an international constitutional court, as well as a permanent investment court with an appellate instance. He noted that there were obvious difficulties with such initiatives, which could be criticised as unrealistic and costly – but that the same could have been said of the International Criminal Court, which is now a reality. Another concern with regard to specialised courts, he said, is that they would lead to artificial fragmentation of international law.

Sir Michael’s ultimate conclusion was that, while courts and arbitral tribunals vary widely, making it difficult to generalise, both forms of dispute settlement play a valuable role. The hope is that the more options States have for resolving disputes without resorting to force, the better the chances for a more peaceful world.

A lively question-and-answer session followed, during which audience members posed questions as to the increasing litigiousness of society, the differences in advocacy before courts and arbitral tribunals, and whether courts are to be preferred to arbitral tribunals in inter-state disputes, at least with regard to certain issues. Candidly acknowledging that, as a practitioner, arguing before an arbitral tribunal was quite a different experience to arguing before a large international court, Sir Michael reaffirmed his view that both arbitral tribunals and courts have an important part to play in international dispute settlement, and opined that on the whole the increase in inter-State legal cases is a positive development for the international legal order.

A summary of the LALIVE Lecture was published in GAR on 12 August 2016. Please see full article here (PDF)

The LALIVE Lecture was published in Volume 32, Issue 1 of the ICSID Review. Please see link to the article here.

2015: Professor Sean D. Murphy, “A Rising Tide: Dispute settlement under the law of the sea”

The 9th edition of the LALIVE Lecture was delivered on 15 July 2015 by Professor Sean D. Murphy, Patricia Roberts Harris Research Professor of Law at George Washington University Law School and Member of the U.N. International Law Commission, at the Graduate Institute of Development Studies in Geneva. The lecture was introduced by Marcelo Kohen, International Law Professor at the Graduate Institute and Michael E. Schneider, founding partner at LALIVE. The LALIVE Lecture, named after the late Jean-Flavien Lalive and Pierre Lalive who both taught at the Graduate Institute, aims to explore the interface of public and private international law. Professor Murphy’s lecture was dedicated to the area of the law of the sea, which he believes straddles the public and private domains today as a result of the increase of private activities undertaken at sea and the detailed rules and institutions established under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which entered into force in 1994 (the “LOS Convention”). He also noted that behind the State’s interests, the rights and interests of private parties always reside.

Professor Murphy’s lecture focused on contemporary dispute settlement mechanisms relating to the law of the sea. In a lively presentation punctuated with practical examples, Professor Murphy started by reminding the audience of the scope of the LOS Convention and how it seeks to regulate all aspects of the seas; from defining the distinct sea zones over which States’ sovereignty varies, to regulating the exploitation of the deep seabed. With codification efforts that are still ongoing today, the law of the sea has become a complex framework of global, regional and bilateral agreements coupled to well-established customary rules.

Professor Murphy then presented three non-compulsory dispute settlement mechanisms encouraged under Section 1 of Part XV of the LOS Convention: negotiation, mediation and conciliation. He noted that States have historically favoured negotiation for their law of the sea disputes: there are more than sixty known negotiations (often relating to issues of delimitation), less than a dozen mediations, and no conciliations since the entry into force of the Convention. Professor Murphy suggested that the tendency to disfavour conciliation might be explained by the fact that, once States have considered placing their disputes in the hands of a third party, they are more inclined to choose a process which leads to a legally binding decision. He also explained that the predictability and flexibility of the negotiation process compared with adjudication has contributed to the popularity of negotiation, with States being able to reach creative agreements that would not have been possible had international law been strictly applied. While some negotiation processes concerning overlapping claims to maritime resources may not have resulted in the conclusion of a final agreement determining a boundary line, States have nevertheless often been able to agree on an interim basis to a fair division for the exploitation of the resources at stake.

Professor Murphy went on to present the possible venues for compulsory dispute resolution, focusing in particular on the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and on dispute settlement provided under Section 2 of Part XV of the LOS Convention. Cases at the ICJ may arise under its normal bases of jurisdiction, including treaty-based jurisdiction or acceptance by States of its compulsory jurisdiction. Professor Murphy explained that the ICJ is the main international judicial body to which States turn when faced with disputes related to the law of the sea. Depending on the basis of the Court’s jurisdiction, the ICJ may have jurisdiction not only to hear disputes related to the LOS Convention, but also to rule on issues of sovereignty, such as over islands. Professor Murphy noted that the ICJ’s jurisprudence is very enriching for understanding the rules at play when deciding law of the see disputes; most notably when it comes to the delimitation of maritime zones, with the “provisional equidistance line” and “angle bisector” approaches becoming key techniques. He stressed that in contemporary jurisprudence, the specific context of each case and notably its geography remain the primary concern, while other factors such as environmental concerns are largely excluded.

The LOS Convention provides four compulsory dispute resolution mechanisms from which State parties can choose: the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) based in Hamburg (Germany), the ICJ, ad hoc arbitration (under Annex VII of the Convention) and special arbitral tribunals set up for specific categories of disputes (under Annex VIII of the Convention). Professor Murphy underlined the success of Annex VII arbitrations. More than a dozen cases have been filed since 1994, ranging from the Southern Bluefin Tuna arbitration to the more recent Artic Sunrise arbitration or the Philippines-China dispute. Such arbitral tribunals are typically composed of five arbitrators, and generally provide States with greater control over the composition of the arbitral tribunal, and the venue, speed and confidentiality of the proceedings. Professor Murphy indicated that litigation before ITLOS to date has been modest and that most cases relate either to interim measures prior to arbitration or to the expedited procedure for prompt release of foreign vessels and crew seized in a State’s exclusive economic zones. He underlined that, quite remarkably, some proceedings under the LOS Convention are open to natural and juridical persons. While ITLOS proceedings are not yet popular, Professor Murphy noted that the Tribunal as a whole, and its Seabed Dispute Chamber, have rendered their first advisory opinions respectively in April 2015 and in February 2011. By rendering well-reasoned opinions, ITLOS may well be opening the path to further requests from States which will provide guidance to the States when applying the law of the sea and therefore have a positive impact on limiting possible disputes.

Professor Murphy also mentioned the LOS Convention’s Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf, which serves as an institutional structure to resolve potential disputes between States with regard to claims to continental shelves extending beyond two hundred nautical miles from the coast to which all States are entitled under the LOS Convention.

He concluded by explaining that the increase of human activities at sea will continue to generate disputes between States, and that new types of disputes likely will arise in the near future from the challenges States have to face, such as stresses on global fisheries, global climate change, or the issue of maritime smuggling of persons. According to him, dispute settlement under the law of the sea, if not yet a tsunami can be seen as a rising tide. Questions and remarks from the audience were mainly related to the impact of climate change on the law of the sea. Among others, Dr Veijo Heiskanen of LALIVE raised the question of the (im)mutability of the maritime zones of States which are likely to disappear as a result of the rising sea levels; while a Phd student of the Graduate Institute addressed the issue of the exploitation of the mining resources in the Antarctic. Professor Murphy agreed that both issues are among the challenges that States will have to face and reach an agreement on in the near future.

The lecture was attended by over 120 participants and was followed by a reception at Villa Barton, premised owned by the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (IHEID), co-organiser of the event with LALIVE. A summary of the LALIVE Lecture was published in GAR on 23 September 2015. Please see full article here

2014: Gary Born, "A New Generation of International Adjudication: Reflections on Developments in International law"

The 8th LALIVE Lecture was held on Tuesday, 7 October 2014 and was delivered by Gary Born, Chair of the International Arbitration Practice Group at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP and one of the world's preeminent authorities on international commercial arbitration and international litigation.

Born’s lecture began with a review of the development of international dispute settlement since 1899, focusing in particular on the ground-breaking proliferation of international courts and tribunals that has taken place over the last 40 years. He queried the common wisdom that the products of this proliferation – what he called second-generation tribunals – suffer from the same defects as first-generation international courts and tribunals.

International adjudication is sometimes spoken of as optional, unenforceable, ineffective and marginal to world affairs, said Born. But this verdict needs to be reappraised in light of the performance of second generation tribunals. Born then embarked on a provocative comparison of what he had labelled first and second-generation international tribunals.

In the former category, he focused on standing international courts such as the International Court of Justice, its predecessor the Permanent Court of International Justice and the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea. As examples of second-generation tribunals, Born pointed to national courts that hear litigation involving foreign states, international commercial arbitration tribunals that hear disputes involving states, investor-state arbitration tribunals, claims settlement tribunals and the World Trade Organization’s dispute resolution bodies.

Born argued that, in terms of the extent to which they are used, compliance with their decisions and the ease of enforcing their awards, first-generation tribunals compare unfavourably to second-generation tribunals.

Born attributed much of the apparent success of second-generation tribunals compared with their first-generation counterparts to the former’s nuanced blend of institutional characteristics. He suggested that second-generation tribunals’ partly depart from the court-like structure of “independent” tribunals and include some attractive aspects of “dependent” tribunals — allowing for some degree of party control in the setting up of the tribunal. This provides a model design for modern-day international dispute settlement bodies.

Born noted, however, that this new generation of international tribunals is still developing and that they require the attention, direction and parent-like care of the college of international lawyers.

The lecture was attended by over 100 participants and was followed by a reception at La Maison de la paix, the new premises of the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (IHEID) in Geneva, co-organiser of the event with LALIVE. A summary of the LALIVE Lecture was published in GAR on 29 October 2014. Please see full article here

2013 : Professeur Alain Pellet « La jurisprudence de la Cour Internationale de Justice dans les sentences CIRDI »

La « Lalive Lecture » 2013 s’est tenue le 5 juin 2013 et a été prononcée par M. Alain Pellet, professeur à l'Université Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense, ancien président de la Commission du droit international des Nations Unies, président de la Société française pour le droit international et membre associé de l’Institut de droit international. Son intervention, intitulée « La jurisprudence de la Cour internationale de Justice dans les sentences CIRDI », a fait état d’une application ni systématique ni harmonisée de la jurisprudence de la CIJ par les tribunaux CIRDI, essentiellement en raison de l’absence de règle de stare decisis et du fait que chaque décision est très liée aux particularités de l’affaire concernée.
M. Pellet a indiqué que les tribunaux CIRDIA se référaient ainsi volontiers à d’autres décisions CIRDI en matière de droit des investissements, ne se tournant vers la CIJ que pour des questions de droit international général et de procédure, notamment en termes de droits des actionnaires, d’attribution, d’état de nécessité, de clause de la nation la plus favorisée, de compétence des juridictions internationales et de mesures provisoires. Il a néanmoins conclu à l’existence d’une forte porosité entre l’arbitrage CIRDI et la jurisprudence CIJ, qui confirme l’ancrage du droit international des investissements dans le droit international général ainsi que l’affirmation du CIRDI comme « nouvel ordre juridique de droit international ». 
Plus de 150 personnes ont assisté à la « lecture », qui a été suivie d’une réception à l’Institut des hautes études internationales et du développement (IHEID) de Genève, co-organisateur de l’évènement avec LALIVE. Le texte de l’intervention du Pr. Pellet a été publié dans l’ICSID Review, Volume 28, No. 2 (2013), pp. 223-240.

2012: Professeur Karl-Heinz Böckstiegel « Commercial and Investment Arbitration: How Different are they Today? »

La LALIVE Lecture 2012 a été donnée le 23 mai 2012 par le Professeur Karl-Heinz Böckstiegel, professeur émérite de droit international des affaires à l'Université de Cologne, président de l'Institut allemand de l'arbitrage (DIS), ancien président de l'International Law Association (ILA) et ancien président de la London Court of International Arbitration. Lors de sa lecture ayant pour thème "Commercial and Investment Arbitration: How Different are they Today?" (« L'arbitrage commercial et l'arbitrage d'investissement : Dans quelle mesure sont-ils différents aujourd'hui ? »), le Professeur Böckstiegel a offert une vue d'ensemble des raisons fondant les distinctions les plus importantes entre l'arbitrage commercial et l'arbitrage d'investissement dans la pratique internationale contemporaine. Ces différences ont été mises en exergue à travers différents thèmes, parmi lesquels l'impact des différentes cultures juridiques, le cadre juridique applicable, le rôle du droit national, les questions de compétence, la désignation des arbitres et les conflits d'intérêts, la gestion des affaires et le caractère prévisible et la cohérence des décisions arbitrales. Plus de 150 participants ont assisté à la lecture qui a été suivie d'une réception à l'Institut de hautes études internationales et du développement (IHEID) à Genève, co-organisateur de l'événement avec LALIVE. La lecture a été publiée dans Arbitration International (Volume 28 (2012), Issue 4, p. 577-590).

2011: Pr. David D. Caron « International Courts and Tribunals: Their role amidst a world of Courts »

Le 23 juin 2011, David D. Caron, professeur de droit à l'Université de Californie - Berkeley et Président de l'American Society of International Law, a prononcé la 5ème LALIVE Lecture sur le thème « International Courts and Tribunals: Their role amidst a world of Courts ».  Pour le professeur Caron, le débat sur la fonctionnalité des juridictions et tribunaux arbitraux internationaux se comprend mieux en distinguant leur fonction primaire de leur fonction secondaire. En effet, alors qu'il est généralement admis que la fonction primaire d'une juridiction internationale est de résoudre un différend, il n'y a pas de consensus sur la fonction secondaire, qui peut être liée à une diversité d'objectifs  d'ordre public : maintenir la paix et la sécurité ; garantir l'Etat de droit ; promouvoir l'investissement étranger, etc.  L'auditoire de la LALIVE Lecture 2011 était comme d'habitude très étoffé et l'intervention du professeur Caron a été suivie d'un fructueux échange avec les participants. La Lecture du Professeur Caron a été publiée dans la ICSID Review : D. Caron "International Courts and Tribunals: Their role amidst a world of Courts" ICSID Review Vol. 26, No 2, Fall 2011, p. 1.

2010: Pr. Gilbert Guillaume « le précédent dans la justice et l'arbitrage international »

En 2010, la LALIVE Lecture a eu lieu le 2 juin et c'est le juge Gilbert Guillaume, ancien président de la Cour internationale de justice, qui est intervenu sur le thème du « précédent dans la justice et l'arbitrage international ». En se fondant sur sa riche expérience d'agent du Gouvernement français, de juge et président de la CIJ et d'arbitre international, le juge Guillaume a dressé un portrait du concept de précédent dans l'ensemble des systèmes de règlement des différends internationaux.  Il a établi une distinction entre, d'une part, l'utilisation par les juridictions internationales de leur propre précédent et, d'autre part,  l'utilisation - plus récente - de précédent provenant d'autres systèmes de règlement des différends internationaux, en particulier par des tribunaux CIRDI, ALENA ou CNUDI dans le domaine de l'arbitrage d'investissement.  Le débat qui a suivi la conférence a porté sur le nécessaire équilibre entre flexibilité et prévisibilité. L'intervention du juge Guillaume a été publiée : voir G. Guillaume, « Le précédent dans la justice et l'arbitrage international (LALIVE Lecture, 2 juin 2010) », J.D.I. (doctr. 8), 2010, vol. 137, No 3, p. 685-705.

2009: Pr. Jan Paulsson « Looking rigorously at national law from the outside: how does an international tribunal distinguish droit from loi? »

La troisième LALIVE Lecture 2009 a été donnée le 27 mai 2009 par Pr. Jan Paulsson, qui co-dirige les départements d'arbitrage international et de droit international public du cabinet Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP, est Président de la London Court of International Arbitration et un praticien renommé. M. Paulsson s'est exprimé sur l'application du droit national par les tribunaux arbitraux dans une conférence intitulée: «Looking rigorously at national law from the outside : How does an international tribunal distinguish droit from loi?». La lecture a été un succès et a suscité un débat intéressant. Elle a été publiée dans la ICSID Review (J. Paulsson, "Unlawful Laws and the Authority of International Tribunals", ICSID Review, vol. 23, No 2, automne 2008, p. 215).

2008: Pr. Pierre Mayer « Contract claims et clauses juridictionnelles des traités relatifs à la protection des investissements »

La Lecture 2008 a été donnée le 22 mai 2008 par Pr. Pierre Mayer, professeur à l'Université Paris I (Panthéon-Sorbonne). Pr. Mayer est un praticien renommé de l'arbitrage, associé du cabinet Dechert LLP à Paris; il a développé dans sa présentation les notions de treaty claims et de contract claims, dont l'importance va croissant en matière d'arbitrage international entre Etat et investisseurs. (P. Mayer, "Contract claims et clauses juridictionnelles des traités relatifs à la protection des investissements", Journal du droit international (Clunet), 2009, p. 71-96.)

2007: S. E. Judge Rosalyn Higgins « The International Court of Justice and Private International Law Thoughts »

La Lecture inaugurale a été donnée par S.E. Mme Rosalyn Higgins, président de la Cour internationale de justice, sur le thème : « The International Court of Justice and Some Private International Law Thoughts ». La conférence a été suivie d'une réception ; elle a connu un très grand succès, avec plus de deux cents participants. (R. Higgins, "The International Court of Justice and Private International Law Thoughts", In: R. Higgins, Themes and Theories. Selected Essays, Speeches and Writings in International Law, vol. 2, Oxford University Press (2009) p. 1307-1319.)