II. Who may be a witness
Any person with information of the relevant facts in the arbitration based on his or her own direct knowledge, the statements of others,2 or review of documents, can be a witness,3 including party representatives and interested persons.4 However, the arbitral tribunal has discretion to determine the weight to be given to the witness’ testimony.5
III. Contacts between the witnesses and attorneys before the hearing
Counsel may assist witness in the preparation of the witness statement(s).6 However, the witness statement must reflect the witness’ own testimony.7 Counsel often draft witness statements based on previous detailed discussions with the witness and then provide the draft to the witness for review and comment or the witness may prepare the statement on his/her own.
IBA Rules on the Taking of Evidence in International Commercial Arbitration (2010), Art. 4(3); IBA Guidelines on Party Representation in International Arbitration (2013), Guideline 24; LCIA Arbitration Rules (2014), Art. 20(5); Swiss Rules of International Arbitration (2012), Art. 25(2); SIAC Rules (2013), Rule 22.5.
IV. Examination of witnesses
A. Rules for the examination of witnesses
ADC Affiliate Ltd., ADC & ADMC Management Ltd. v. Republic of Hungary, ICSID Case No. ARB/03/16, Award, 2 October 2006, paras. 23-24; Bureau Veritas, Inspection, Valuation, Assessment and Control, BIVAC B.V. v. Republic of Paraguay, ICSID Case No. ARB/07/9, Decision of the Tribunal on Objections to Jurisdiction, 29 May 2009, para. 36.
Lao Holdings N.V. v. Lao People’s Democratic Republic (II), ICSID Case No. ARB(AF)/16/2, Procedural Order No. 8, 16 November 2018, paras. 1, 2(19); Sanum Investments Limited v. Lao People’s Democratic Republic (II), ICSID Case No. ADHOC/17/1, Procedural Order No. 8, 16 November 2018, paras. 1, 2(19).
B. Examination of witnesses at the hearing
The examination usually commences with a brief direct examination by the party presenting the witness which is often limited to introducing the witness, confirming or making corrections to the witness statement (if any) and responding to matters that arose after the witness statement was provided.13 Such brief direct examination is followed by cross-examination where counsel for the adverse party asks the witness questions to impeach the witness’s testimony and credibility.14 Cross-examination is sometimes limited to the matters covered in the written witness statement,15 but may be permitted to address other issues relevant to the dispute.16
After cross-examination, the party who presented the witness is given the opportunity to re-examine him/her on matters raised in cross-examination (re-direct-examination).17 The other party will then be entitled to examine the witness once again (re-cross-examination).18 Usually, the arbitral tribunal can ask questions at any time.19
Dradas International and Per-Am Construction Corporation v. The Islamic Republic of Iran and Tehran Redevelopment Company, IUSCT Case Nos. 213 And 215, Award (Award No. 567-213/215-3), 7 November 1995, para. 180; LKT Industrial Berhad (Malaysia) v. Albert Chun, New South Wales Supreme Court, 50174/03, 13 September 2004, para. 37; Duke Energy International Peru Investments No. 1, Ltd. v. Republic of Peru, ICSID Case No. ARB/03/28, Award, 18 August 2008, para. 401; Waguih Elie George Siag and Clorinda Vecchi v. Arab Republic of Egypt, ICSID Case No. ARB/05/15, Award, 1 June 2009, para. 214.
Eli Lilly and Company v. Canada, ICSID Case No. UNCT/14/2, Procedural Order No. 5, 29 April 2016, para. 30; Christian Doutremepuich and Antoine Doutremepuich v. Republic of Mauritius, PCA Case No. 2018-37, Procedural Order No. 2 on Procedural Rules and Timetable, 14 September 2018, para. 4.12(c); Jin Hae Seo v. Republic of Korea, HKIAC Case No. 18117, Procedural Order No. 1, 11 April 2019, para. 18.11.2; Sergei Viktorovich Pugachev v. The Russian Federation, Procedural Order No. 1, 1 March 2017, para. 7.10.3.
EuroGas Inc. and Belmont Resources Inc. v. Slovak Republic, ICSID Case No. ARB/14/14, Procedural Order No. 1, 1 April 2015, para. 19.6; Michael Ballantine and Lisa Ballantine v. The Dominican Republic, PCA Case No. 2016-17, Procedural Order No. 1, 21 October 2016, para. 7.8(c); Lion Mexico Consolidated L.P. v. United Mexican States, ICSID Case No. ARB(AF)/15/2, Procedural Order No. 1, 14 October 2016, para. 20.6; Canfor Corporation, Terminal Forest Products Ltd., Tembec et al. v. United States of America, Procedural Order No. 1, 17 December 2005, para. 10.6(d).
Philip Morris Asia Limited v. The Commonwealth of Australia, PCA Case No. 2012-12, Procedural Order No. 15 regarding the Forthcoming Hearing on Preliminary Objections, 4 February 2015, para. 3(2)(3)(d); Aven and Others v. Costa Rica, ICSID Case No. UNCT/15/3, Procedural Order No. 5, 25 November 2016, para. 30(26)(4); Bangladesh Accord Arbitrations, PCA Case No. 2016-36;2016-37, Procedural Order No. 1, 19 April 2017, para. 9.2(iv); Chevron Corporation and Texaco Petroleum Company v. The Republic of Ecuador (I), PCA Case No. 2007-02/AA277, Interim Award, 1 December 2008, para. 27(4)(1)(3)(d).
Resolute Forest Products Inc. v. Canada, PCA Case No. 2016-13, Procedural Order No. 1, 29 June 2016, para.11.11(d); Windstream Energy LLC v. The Government of Canada, PCA Case No. 2013-22, Procedural Order No. 1, 16 September 2013, para. 10.10.4; Clayton/Bilcon v. Canada, PCA Case No. 2009-04, Procedural Order No. 18, 16 April 2013, para. 4.3.
C. Sequestration of witnesses
Fact witnesses may not be allowed to attend another witness’ testimony before giving their own oral testimony.20 Such “sequestration” aims to avoid that a witness would be influenced by the testimony of others and would modify his or her subsequent testimony.21 Party representatives are usually excluded from the “sequestration” order and allowed to attend all parts of the hearing in order to protect the right to present their claim or defense.22 Parties may also agree that there shall be no sequestration of witnesses.23
Churchill Mining and Planet Mining Pty Ltd v. Republic of Indonesia, ICSID Case No. ARB/12/14 and 12/40, Procedural Order No. 19, 20 July 2015, para. 24; Philip Morris Asia Limited v. The Commonwealth of Australia, PCA Case No. 2012-12, Procedural Order No. 15, 4 February 2015, para. 5.3; UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules (2013), Art. 28(3).
D. Failure to attend the hearing
If a witness who is called to testify fails to attend the hearing without a valid reason, the arbitral tribunal may (i) draw negative or adverse inferences,24 (ii) disregard the witness statement,25 or decide to not give any weight to the evidence presented by the witness through his/her witness statement(s).26
Sanum Investments Ltd. v. Lao People’s Democratic Republic (II), ICSID Case No. ADHOC/17/1, Procedural Order No. 1, 16 May 2017, para. 19.4; Canfor Corporation, Terminal Forest Products Ltd., Tembec et al. v. United States of America, Procedural Order No. 1, 17 December 2005, para. 8.4; IBA Rules on the Taking of Evidence in International Arbitration (2010), Article 9.6.
Merrill and Ring Forestry L.P. v. The Government of Canada, ICSID Case No. UNCT/07/1, Order Concerning Requests for Documents and Certain Evidentiary Matters, 21 January 2008, para. 17; Passport v. Mr. Haji Mohammad Iqbal et al., Final Award, 20 February 2012, para. 90; The Renco Group, Inc. v. Republic of Peru, ICSID Case No. UNCT/13/1, Procedural Order No. 1, 22 August 2013, para. 16.7; Windstream Energy LLC v. The Government of Canada, PCA Case No. 2013-22, Procedural Order No. 1, 16 September 2013, para. 10.9; IBA Rules on the Taking of Evidence in International Arbitration (2010), Article 4.7; ICDR International Dispute Resolution Procedures, Article 23.4.
V. Special measures to protect fact witnesses
In appropriate circumstances, tribunals can adopt special measures to protect witnesses who are at risk on account of the testimony given. Such measures include: (i) redacting the witness’ identity and other personal information;27 (ii) disclosing the witness’ name only to an agreed list of persons;28 (iii) protecting the confidentiality of the witness’ testimony;29 (iv) prohibiting the party not presenting the witness from approaching the witness except for the purposes of cross-examination;30 and/or (v) changing the hearing venue.31
Blackaby, N., Partasides, C., Redfern, A. and Hunter, M., Conduct of the Proceedings, in Redfern and Hunter on International Arbitration, 6th ed., 2015, p. 6179.
Born, G., Procedures in International Arbitration, in International Commercial Arbitration, Vol. II, 2014, pp. 2775-2776, pp. 2288-2289.
Caron, D. and Caplan, L., The UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules: A Commentary, 2nd ed., 2013, p. 573.
Harbst, R., A Counsel’s Guide to Examining and Preparing Witnesses in International Arbitration, 2015, p. 190.
Hobér, K., Cross-Examination in International Arbitration, in Calissendorff, A. and Schöldstrom, P. (eds.), Stockholm Arbitration Yearbook 2019, p. 43.
Mayer, P., Le pouvoir des arbitres de régler la procédure une analyse comparative des systèmes de civil law et de common law, Revue de l’Arbitrage, 1995.
Moser, M., The Pre-hearing Checklist Protocol: A Tool for Organizing Efficient Arbitration Hearings, in Shaughnessy, P. and Tung, S. (eds.), The Powers and Duties of an Arbitrator: Liber Amicorum Pierre A. Karrer, 2017, p. 231.
O’Malley, N., Rules of Evidence in International Arbitration: An Annotated Guide, 2nd ed., 2019, para. 4.35.
Orlowski, V., Upping the Arsenal – Using the ICC Rules to Counteract Guerilla Tactics, in Horvath, G. J. and Wilske, S. (eds.), Guerrilla Tactics in International Arbitration, 2013, p. 66.
Rizzo Amaral, G., Burden of Proof and Adverse Inferences in International Arbitration: Proposal for an Inference Chart, Journal of International Arbitration, 2018, p. 27.
Sourgens, F., Duggal, K. and Laird, I., Witnesses and Experts, in Evidence in International Investment Arbitration, 2018, pp. 200-204.
Waincymer, J., Approaches to Evidence and Fact Finding, in Procedure and Evidence in International Arbitration, 2012, p. 775, pp. 794-796.
Waincymer, J., General Witness and Expert Evidence, in Procedure and Evidence in International Arbitration, 2012, pp. 927-928.