According to German legal terminology, ""Kompetenz-Kompetenz" would imply that the arbitrators are empowered to make a final ruling as to their jurisdiction, with no subsequent review of the decision by any court".3 It has therefore been suggested that the use of the expression "Kompetenz-Kompetenz" (instead of Competence-Competence) in the context of investment arbitration is ambiguous and should probably be avoided.4
II. The positive effect of Competence-Competence
According to the Competence-Competence doctrine, an arbitral tribunal has jurisdiction to consider and decide any disputes regarding its own jurisdiction, subject to, in certain circumstances, subsequent judicial review. In the context of investor-State disputes, by way of example, an arbitral tribunal's authority to rule on its own jurisdiction may be subject to the review of national courts with respect to ad hoc arbitrations; or the review of an ad hoc comity with respect to ICSID arbitrations.6
In the context of investor-State disputes, the competence-competence principle extends to an arbitral tribunal's determination of its:9
This "positive" definition is widely accepted and applied in international commercial arbitrations14 as well as in the context of State-to-State15 and investor-State disputes, through express incorporation in major arbitration rules.16 Notably, the ICSID Secretariat performs an extensive review of Requests for Arbitration to confirm the existence of a prima facie jurisdictional basis before an arbitration may proceed under the ICSID Rules.17 It is also reflected in investment arbitration tribunals jurisprudence.18
III. The negative effect of Competence-Competence
It has been suggested that considering otherwise would allow parallel proceedings before an arbitration tribunal and domestic courts, thereby opening the door to dilatory jurisdictional objections.20
The extent to which national courts may have the authority to rule on an arbitral tribunal's jurisdiction is determined by (i) the relevant provisions in domestic law, often incorporating the New York Convention 1958, and (ii) their construction by case-law.
In particular, Article II(3) of the New York Convention has been implemented by several States in their legislation.22 The wording of Article II(3) of the New York Convention could be construed either as granting a great interpretative power to States' courts (see e.g., German courts' interpretation),23 or as providing domestic courts the authority to exercise a prima facie review only (see e.g., Swiss courts' interpretation).24
Anti-suit injunctions, when permitted by legislation, are a key remedy for parties who seek to protect an arbitral tribunal's jurisdiction from state interference at the jurisdictional stage, thereby aiding towards the enforcement of the competence-competence.25
Born, G.B., Chapter 7: International Arbitration Agreements and Competence-Competence, in International Commercial Arbitration, Kluwer Law International, 2005, pp. 1046-1252.
Boucaron-Nardetto, M., La compétence-compétence : le point de vue français. Plaidoyer pour la compétence à la française, Cahiers de l'arbitrage, n° 1, 2013, p. 37.
Douglas, Z., International Law of Investment Claims, Cambridge University Press, 2009, p. 616.
Gaillard, E., L'effet négatif de la compétence-compétence, in Haldy, J., Rapp, J.M. and Ferrari, P. (eds.), Etudes de procédure et d'arbitrage en l'honneur de Jean-François Poudret, Faculté de droit de l'Université de Lausanne, 1999, pp. 387-402.
Gaillard, E. and Savage, J. (eds.), Gaillard Fouchard Goldman on International Commercial Arbitration, Kluwer Law International, 1999, p. 1320.
Loquin, E., Fasc. 1034 : ARBITRAGE – Compétence arbitrale – Conflit entre la compétence arbitrale et la compétence judiciaire, JCl Procédure civile, LexisNexis, 2018.
Moreau, B., Glucksmann, E., Feng, P., Arbitrage international, Répertoire de droit commercial, Dalloz, 2016, paras. 56-62.
Park, W.W., The Arbitrator's Jurisdiction to Determine Jurisdiction, in Van Den Berg, J.A. (ed.), International Arbitration 2006: Back to Basics?, ICCA Congress Series, Vol. 13, ICCA & Kluwer Law International, 2007, pp. 55-153.
Paulsson, J., Denial of Justice in International Law, Cambridge University Press, 2005, pp. 150-153.
Seraglini, C. and Ortscheidt, J., Droit de l'arbitrage interne et international, LGDJ, 2nd ed., 2019, p. 1052.
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