Topics for theses

Below are suggestions for some topics that would fit well with our current research activities at PluriCourts. If you are interested in empirical studies (i.e. studies based on what takes place in practice) we are developing a database that may be useful. If you have suggestions for or questions regarding topics, or questions regarding supervisor, please contact

Pre-dispute issues

  1. What types and sizes of claimants are using investment treaty arbitration (e.g. are they mostly large multinational companies, or are small and medium-sized enterprises also initiating disputes; are investors within certain sectors more likely to resort to investment treaty arbitration; what types of investors are not using investment treaty arbitration)?
  2. Why and under what conditions do claimants resort to investment treaty arbitration (e.g. when do claimants initiate disputes; do investors attempt negotiated or mediated solutions before initiating disputes; to what extent do claimants exhaust local remedies; is investment treaty arbitration essentially used as an exit strategy when investors consider that they have no future interests in the host state)?

  3. What is the nature of the claims presented (e.g. to what extent are claims based on public interest issues; what types of domestic measures are most likely to lead to investment treaty arbitration; is there evidence of parallel claims; do investors file frivolous claims)?

  4. What is the role of law firms in the initiation of disputes (e.g. how do claimants and respondents fund their cases)?

  5. What are the characteristics of states that are being subject to frequent claims (e.g. are states from particular geographic regions targeted; how do relevant states perform on various indexes)?

  6. Do investors threaten investment treaty arbitration as a means of forcing a state to abandon policies or specific measures?

  7. What (kinds of) treaties are most frequently invoked (e.g. do claimants use treaty shopping as a means of bringing claims by actively positioning themselves so that they may enjoy protection under investment treaties; is there increased use of investment chapters in FTAs)?

  8. Why are state – state arbitration and diplomatic espousal cases so infrequently used in this field?

Dispute related issues

  1. What gatekeeper functions have arbitral institutions employed?

  2. Are arbitrators biased in their decision-making (e.g. what are the factors determining whether arbitrators are appointed repeatedly; are some arbitrators only or mostly appointed by investors or states; do the arbitration facilities ensure independence of arbitrators; under what conditions are arbitrator challenges made; who would generally serve as presiding arbitrators; what are the respective roles of the presiding and party-appointed arbitrators during the work of the tribunal)?

  3. What strategies do claimants use to strengthen their cases (e.g. to what extent is a claimants’ choice of arbitration facility influenced by the procedural characteristics of the facility)?

  4. What strategies do respondent states use to defend their cases (e.g. how often are counterclaims brought)?

  5. Are the processes of investment treaty arbitration structurally biased (e.g. are there signs that the processes of investment treaty arbitration do not fulfil standards of a “fair trial; to what extent (and to what effect) do the parties seek furcation of proceedings; how transparent are proceedings; what is the role of amicus curiae submissions; to what extent do third parties (in particular home states, other states, indigenous or local populations affected by the investment) have standing in the proceedings; how significant is the role of evidence and witnesses in investment treaty arbitration)?

  6. To what extent do tribunals issue interim measures?

  7. Are the outcome of cases biased (e.g. are investors more successful than states or vice versa; what is the prevalence of cost-shifting; what is the role of dissenting opinions)?

  8. Are the annulment procedures fulfilling their functions (e.g. what are the characteristics of (un)successful annulment cases; what is the cost of annulment proceedings)?

Post-dispute issues

  1. Why are arbitral awards kept confidential (e.g. what reasons do parties to the dispute provide; when, why and how are awards made publically available)?

  2. To what extent are decisions consistent (e.g. do they come to similar conclusions in similar cases; do they use similar legal arguments in similar ways; to what extent do tribunals rely on previous jurisprudence)?

  3. How often do states initiate set-aside proceedings in domestic courts?

  4. How are awards enforced (e.g. what types of remedies are given to claimants in winning cases; to what extent can and do investors (and states) make use of enforcement mechanisms (in particular domestic courts); how widespread is enforcement legislation among ICSID parties; what role do investors’ home states play in award enforcement; what is the relationship between amount claimed and amount realized; does investment treaty arbitration affect domestic politics)?

  5. How long do investment treaty arbitrations take to resolve issues?

  6. What are the costs of investment treaty arbitration (e.g. monetary costs; human resources; time; reputational costs; and costs to third parties)?

  7. What are the overall benefits of arbitration procedures (e.g. resolving disputes; enhancing compliance with legal commitments; enhancing rule of law; increasing predictability and reducing risks of investors; and increasing availability of investments)?

Published Feb. 3, 2015 10:36 AM - Last modified Dec. 12, 2016 8:51 AM