ICCA-ACIL Colloquium on the Impact of Achmea explores uncharted territory

On Tuesday 26 June 2018, ICCA and the Amsterdam Center for International Law (ACIL) hosted a full-day colloquium on the Impact of Achmea on Pending Arbitrations under Member States' BITs and the Energy Charter Treaty. The second speaker, Prof. Stefan Talmon (20 Essex Street, University of Bonn), began his presentation with a quote from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s Tales of a Wayside Inn: “Ships that pass in the night, and speak each other in passing, only a signal shown, and a distant voice in the darkness; So on the ocean of life, we pass and speak one another, only a look and a voice, then darkness again and a silence.”


Could these famous words be applicable to the relationship between EU law and international law on the sea of intra-EU BIT arbitration? Or has the CJEU’s decision that the investor-state arbitration mechanism under the Netherlands-Slovakia BIT is incompatible with EU law ensured a head-on collision between these legal ships? Whatever the case, Longfellow’s words set the tone for a riveting discussion about the most significant decision for international arbitration in decades.


The event began with an introduction by ICCA President Prof. Gabrielle Kaufmann-Kohler. Prof. Kaufmann-Kohler emphasised that the presentations given by the speakers would be shared with the public online (video footage of the event is now available), but that all discussions after the presentations would be subject to the Chatham House Rule. Moderator Prof. Stephan Schill (University of Amsterdam, ACIL) then gave an overview of the topic and provided a brief summary of the decision. Prof. Schill then handed the floor to the speakers. Dr. Angelos Dimopoulos (Queen Mary University of London) spoke first, followed by Prof. Stefan Talmon (20 Essex Street, University of Bonn), Prof. Jan Kleinheisterkamp (London School of Economics), Prof. George Bermann (Columbia Law School) and finally, Prof. Catherine Kessedjian (University Panthéon-Assas Paris II).