UK’s Greenwood, several ICJ judges moonlighted as arbitrators, alleges report

Vidya Ram London | Updated on January 09, 2018

Christopher Greenwood

This risked causing reputational damage to the court: International Institute for Sustainable Development study

Christopher Greenwood, the British judge who withdrew as Britain’s nominee for the International Court of Justice after it became clear he didn’t have the backing in the Security Council and General Assembly, paving the way for Justice Dalveer Bhandari’s re-election, moonlighted as an arbitrator in nine investment-state dispute settlements as well as two other cases during his time as an ICJ judge.

He was involved in the second largest number of such external work of all sitting ICJ judges, according to a report by the Geneva-based International Institute for Sustainable Development, which noted that seven current ICJ judges and 13 former judges had done so. The work risked causing reputational damage to the court which, as the world’s most “important and respected court”, had to be held to the “highest standards of independence,” said Director of the IISD Nathalie Bernasconi-Osterwalder, noting that the 78 arbitration cases the judges were involved with represented roughly 10 per cent of known investment treaty cases that took place during their tenure. The judge who conducted the most such work was Slovakia’s Peter Tomka. Australia’s James Richard Crawford was also involved in nine such cases. Judge Bhandari has not been involved in any arbitration cases since he began his ICJ tenure.

Article 16 of the ICJ’s statute states that “no member of the court may exercise any political or administrative function, or engage in any other occupation of a professional nature, adding that any doubts could be settled by a decision of the court. According to the IISD, while the annual salary of an ICJ judge was roughly $173,000 a year (in 2016) plus a living allowance and pension, arbitrators could earn as much as $3,000 a day. Analysis conducted by the IISD found that in two resolved cases involving Slovakia and the Czech Republic, Greenwood, who has been an ICJ judge since 2009, earned $291,600.

“If ICJ judges supplement their income by serving as arbitrators, they have an incentive to work less time for the court where their salary is fixed,” the report warned, adding that it could also potentially impact perceived and actual impartiality.

Sources said while the revelations in the report were unlikely to have influenced Britain’s decision to withdraw, it would likely have raised some tricky questions had it pushed hard against India.

Published on November 28, 2017

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