Purpose: Over the past two decades, the application of most-favoured-nation (MFN) clauses in international investment agreements (IIAs) to dispute settlement matters has generated controversy. The purpose of this paper is to help resolve some of the controversies by examining the rule of law issues that may arise from such application of MFN. Design/methodology/approach: The study describes controversies regarding the application of MFN to dispute settlement as per the extant literature on the subject. It explores the elements of rule of law in investor-state arbitration. The paper then analyses the implications of applying MFN to dispute settlement matters for the elements of rule of law. Based on such analysis, the study argues that the application of MFN to dispute settlement matters undermines certain elements of rule of law. Findings: The paper has outlined the relevant elements of rule of law in investor-state arbitration as access to dispute settlement; judicial (or tribunal) independence, fairness and impartiality; consistency and predictability of law and decisions; transparency; accountability and subjection of dispute forums and systems to law. It found that the application of MFN undermines various components of rule of law, in particular of consistency and predictability and the requirement of tribunals to adjudicate within the limits of the law. Originality/value: The findings of this study will help future investor-state arbitral tribunals to decide on the application of MFN to dispute settlement matters.
- Investment dispute settlement
- Investment treaty arbitration
- Investor-state arbitration
- Rule of law