Category

International

indiv_law

The Individual in International Law: Perspectives from International Human Rights Litigation

By | Human Rights, International, News | No Comments

Date: Thursday 17 March
Time: 16.30 -18.00
Venue: SW1.17, Somerset House East Wing, Strand Campus

Traditionally, individuals have been the “objects” of international law and not”subjects”. This is not the case anymore. Individuals now have an enhanced status in the international legal sphere, and at the least, are now genuine participants in the international legal order. How is this enhanced status reflected in practice?

In this presentation, having regard to his doctoral topic and practice as an international lawyer, Rishi Gulati will discuss certain regimes of law where individuals have standing in international law.

First, he will briefly discuss his experiences in representing clients at the Human Rights Committee and the Committee Against Torture, focusing on some due process issues. Second, he will canvass issues around individual access to a court vis-à-vis disputes between International Organisations (IOs) and individuals, with particular reference to the problematic regime on IO immunities. Finally, he will make some brief observations as to how the theoretical discourse on the individual’s status in international law is being reflected in practice.

Speaker bio: Rishi Gulati is a Dickson Poon Scholar of Law at King’s College London(2015-18),undertaking a PhD in the area of international dispute resolution under the supervision of Dr Philippa Webb. As part of his PhD, Rishi also focuses on enhancing access to justice for individuals vis-à-vis disputes with International Organisations.Rishi has previously worked as an International Lawyer for the Australian Government. As a Barrister, he has represented clients before several international tribunals and fora, including the UN Human Rights Committee and the Committee Against Torture. He is also an Academic Expert at a leading public international law Barristers’ Chambers, Bretton Woods Law.

To reserve a seat, please register here >

bretton_woods_law_alex_brazil

BWL to send Alex Haines to Brazil

By | Administrative Law, IAL, IAL Seminars, International, International Administrative Law, Multilateral Development Banks, News, Rule of Law | No Comments

BWL to send Alex Haines to Brazil as part of Bar Council and UK Trade and Investment business development mission.

Alex Haines has been selected to be part of the business development mission to Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, organised by the Bar Council’s International Committee and supported by the UK Trade and Investment Government department.  The aim of the mission, which takes place between 22nd and 28th March 2014, is to raise the profile of the English and Welsh Bar within the Brazilian legal market and to promote the services barristers can offer Brazilian clients.

 

Alex will be giving a talk to the Ordem dos Advogados (the Brazilian Bar Association) on sanctions proceedings in the context of corrupt companies bidding on projects funded by Multilateral Development Banks (“MDBs”) such as the World Bank Group (“WGB”) and the Inter-American Development Bank (“IDB”).  The Brazil mission includes market briefings with UKTI, visits to Brazilian Law firms who specialise in International Law and networking receptions.  Alex will also be giving seminars to International Organisations based in, or with regional offices in, Brasilia and Rio de Janeiro on International Administrative Law, which is the law of the international civil servant.

International_civil_servants

Equality of arms – a hot topic at first Geneva seminar

By | Administrative Law, Centre of Excellence, Civil Servants, IAL, International, International Administrative Law, News | No Comments

On 6th February, Bretton Woods Law held its first International Administrative Law seminar in Geneva. The seminar was attended by a number of senior Staff Association members in order to discuss a selection of the most important aspects of International Administrative Law facing international civil servants today.

One of the main topics that was debated was the thorny issue of ‘Equality of Arms’, and for those international civil servants who could not make the seminar, an overview of Bretton Wood Law’s thoughts on this particular subject can be found below.

Bretton Woods Law has also set up the International Administrative Law Centre of Excellence, to assist in the global development and improvement of International Administrative Law. Apply for membership >

Equality of Arms

A ‘David v. Goliath’ situation prevails in most, if not all international organisations.  An employee who wishes to raise a complaint that his or her contract of employment has be contravened by the organisation that he or she works for (e.g., a secretary who claims to have been bullied or harassed by her boss), will normally have to face a human resources department that is advised by specialist lawyers from within the organisation’s legal department.  In some organisations, such as the multilateral development banks (e.g., the World Bank, EBRD etc.), whole teams of lawyers exist (known as institutional & administrative (“I&A”) law teams) whose primary function is to defend the organisation against employment related claims brought by staff members.  What is more, the organisation has if necessary the funds at hand to engage external lawyers to advise it and protect its interests.  In stark contrast, the employee does not have such legal resources at his or her disposal and may well not have the funds to engage a lawyer at all or only for a limited period of time.  The majority of internal justice systems operated by international organisations do not provide for any form of ‘legal aid’ nor do they operate a defence service under which lawyers are employed by the organisation to represent employees before the grievance committees and administrative tribunals that they operate (however, c.f., the United Nations Office of Staff Legal Assistance).  Moreover, the statutes and procedures that create the committees, boards and tribunals that form the internal justice systems of many international organisations either do not permit those bodies to award costs against the organisation and in favour of the employee or, if they do, those costs can only be awarded at the very end of a case, which may take years to finalise.  Indeed, it would appear to be a tactic of some lawyers within certain organisations that we have encountered to delay intentionally in order to put the injured international civil servant to unnecessary expense and thereby starve him or her out of the litigation process.  One case in which Bretton Woods Law lawyers are involved is now in its third year due to ‘stalling tactics’ on the part of the organisation.  Other cases are delayed by an organisation taking novel and ultimately unsuccessful jurisdictional arguments (on this point see O Elias’ The Development and Effectiveness of International Administrative Law (2012) at page 339).  In one international organisation in which we operate it can take up to fifteen years before a judgement is actually rendered by its administrative tribunal, which is astonishing as much as it is troubling.  Put bluntly, many international civil servants simply cannot afford to engage lawyers to assist them at all or for the time required in order to navigate the labyrinth of laws implemented by international organisations.  This disparity of wealth and the manner in which it is exploited by some international organisations causes an ‘inequality of arms’ between the litigants that can taint the legitimacy of the internal process and render it unfair.  The solution to this all too prevalent problem is of course obvious: the organisation that cloaks itself in an immunity from legal suit and thereby compels its employees to use its internal justice system should provide for a legal aid scheme of some description or, alternatively, arrange for legal insurance to be available to all of its employees, in the same way that it provides for medical insurance.

If you are an international civil servant and in need of specialist employment advice, contact your nearest office.

International Administrative Law

Bretton Woods Law Seminar on International Administrative Law in Geneva

By | Administrative Law, Employment Disputes, International, International Administrative Law, News | No Comments
[icon_button type=arrowdown url=http://www.brettonwoodslaw.com/brettonwood_site/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/Geneva_IAL_CoE_slides.pdf]Download presentation[/icon_button]

Bretton Woods Law hosted a seminar on International Administrative Law at the Intercontinental Hotel in Geneva on Wednesday 6th February 2013. Lee Marler, Neil Macaulay and Alex Haines held an open forum with senior Staff Association members from a number of International Organisations including the WTO, UNHCR, CERN and the WMO, where the law’s shortfalls and possible improvements were discussed.

Topics included:
• Equality of arms
• Clarity of the law
• Confidentiality of proceedings
• Capping of Awards
• Staff Associations – independence and industrial action
• Executive Heads – reviewing the lawfulness of their own decisions
• The roles and actions of lawyers for the organisation
• Ignoring the organisation’s internal law

We hope that those who attended enjoyed the lively and informative discussion, and we look forward to hosting more seminars to help shape the much needed improvements and additions to this area of law.

If you were unable to attend the IAL Geneva seminar in person, but have a need for legal advice concerning an employment issue within an international organisation, please click here to contact your nearest office and for complimentary membership for the International Administrative Law Centre of Excellence

4_signature_business

Bretton Woods Law to speak at UNSU-ICTY seminar – Download Presentation

By | Administrative Law, Civil Servants, International, International Administrative Law, News | No Comments

Download Presentation

Bretton Woods Law are proud to have been asked to speak on International Administrative Law at the UNSU-ICTY seminar on Wednesday 3rd October. We will be holding an open forum with senior Staff Association members, where the law’s shortfalls and possible improvements will be discussed.

Topics will include:

  • Equality of arms
  • Clarity of the law
  • Confidentiality of proceedings
  • Capping of Awards
  • Staff Associations – independence and industrial action
  • Executive Heads – reviewing the lawfulness of their own decisions
  • The roles and actions of lawyers for the organisation
  • Mandatory mediation
  • Ignoring the organisation’s internal law
  • Suspension of administrative decision

We hope that, what promises to be a lively and informative discussion, will help shape the much needed improvements and additions to this area of law.

If you are unable to attend the UNSU-ICTY seminar in person, but have a need for legal advice concerning an employment issue within an international organisation, please go to www.brettonwoodslaw.com/brettonwood_site to contact your nearest office.

5_instruction_business

What it takes to be truly international set of chambers

By | Administrative Law, Civil Servants, Cross debarment, Development Banks, International, Multilateral Development Banks, News | No Comments

Describing yourself as international is easy, demonstrating it takes a bit more hard work.

Bretton Woods Law deals with international clients on a daily basis, they could be talking to a multinational company accused of sanctionable practices by a multilateral development one moment and then an international civil servant with employment issues the next. So how do they ensure they offer the best possible legal advice to people from different cultures and countries?

 Language

It is easy to get your website and brochures translated, but what happens when you get someone contacting you and you can’t actually speak their language, even though the website infers you can? Bretton Woods Law has taken the trouble to employ legal professionals who are fluent in French and Spanish, as with so many international organisations being located in countries that speak these languages, it seemed only sensible and more importantly… polite.

 Cultural sensitivity

They say there is no substitute for real experience, and Bretton Woods Law would attest to this. Lee Marler, a lead counsel at Bretton Woods Law previously worked internationally as a lawyer across the globe, including America, Australia, Bosnia, East Timor, Kosovo and Palestine. He also worked as a lawyer for the United Nations, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the World Bank Group. Lee’s international exposure is matched, by fellow lead counsel Neil Macaulay, who has worked as a lawyer in such diverse places as Germany, Cyprus, Bosnia, US, Philippines and the Turks and Caicos Islands.

This vast cross cross-cultural experience reinforced Lee and Neil’s belief that for any set of chambers to be truly international, they must understand that each culture has their own particular value and beliefs, and as such need to be respected and understood if you are going to succeed.

It is this cultural empathy that runs throughout Bretton Woods Law that could account for their success rate. Whether they are representing an international civil servant with employment issues or an international company facing debarment by a multilateral development bank – each individual at Bretton Woods Law has the ability to put themselves in their clients’ shoes, professionally, emotionally and of course culturally.

If you think you could benefit from some truly international legal expertise, please click here to contact your nearest office

 

multilateral development banks

World Bank Sanctions Board takes steps to improve transparency

By | Development Banks, International, Multilateral Development Banks, News, Sanctions, Sanctions Board, World Bank | No Comments

In an effort to improve transparency, the World Bank recently took the step of publishing the judgments of its Sanctions Board online

The decision to publish judgments is a positive one in several regards. Firstly, it enables companies to learn of the type of behaviour that can be construed as falling within the provisions prohibiting fraudulent, corrupt or collusive practices arising during the bidding process or the execution of a Bank-financed contract. Secondly, the sanctions process and reasoning behind rulings is made public, permitting parties to gain some insight into what to expect if they are asked to respond to an accusation, as well as the range of penalties such offences attract.

The publication of decisions further ensures that the Bank is compliant with its obligations under international public law. The requirement to publish judgments in a suit at law is specifically referred to in Article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights 1966, to name but one treaty ratified for the protection of human rights, but also falls within the wider fundamental principle of access to justice. Although any World Bank sanction is purely administrative, the Sanctions Board is an organ of an international organisation (itself the product of an international treaty), with a quasi-judicial function. It fulfils the role of upholding the internal laws of the Bank and the contractual obligations incumbent upon participants in the bidding process not to indulge in sanctionable practices. The Sanctions Board is therefore regulated not only by its internal laws but also the fundamental general principles of international law.

This is a development which is certainly to be welcomed and it is hoped that the Sanctions Board will, in time, publish all of its previous decisions as well as those handed down after the change in policy.

If you are concerned that you or your company may have committed a sanctionable practice Bretton Woods Law can investigate the matter on your behalf, advise you in confidence whether you have a defence, such as bona fide mistake or “rogue employee,” and suggest how best to proceed. To contact your nearest office please click here.

4_signature_business

Asian Development Bank gets tough with companies who engage in sanctionable activities

By | Corruption, Development Banks, Fraud, International, Multilateral, Multilateral Development Banks, News | No Comments

The Office of Anticorruption and Integrity (OAI) of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) recently published its 2011 Annual Report (‘the Report’).  Two core messages flow from it.  The first is that efforts to tackle fraud and corruption have never been greater.  The second is the importance of ‘communication’ both between the MDBs and through OAI’s aim to ‘empower’ those involved in ADB activities “with a deeper understanding of ADB’s approach to the anticorruption fight”.  An appreciation of both messages is of paramount importance both for board members and employees of companies operating within the sphere of international development and procurement.  Indeed, many may think they have a clear view of the meaning of fraud and corruption; they are often equally clear that ‘fraud’ and ‘corruption’ are words which do not apply to them or their companies.  Yet the Report to the President may make for chilling reading: it spells out with crystal clarity conduct which may be viewed by the ADB as fraudulent or corrupt; conduct which, if found, will almost inevitably lead to the imposition of sanctions.  What might surprise many, is just how easy it is for a company to cross the threshold into sanctionable conduct.

The Bribery Act 2010 has, understandably, focused the attention of many bodies corporate on the need to be cognisant of the risks associated with such corrupt conduct.  However, it is important not to lose sight of the fact that sanctionable practices are not always as flagrant as the soliciting or payment of bribes.  Indeed, in 2011, in the case of allegations dealt with by OAI, “fraudulent practice formed the majority of investigations at 60%”.  Of that majority, misrepresentation “constitutes 52% of allegations pertaining to fraudulent practice, with submission of false documents (including bank guarantees, bid securities, or curricula vitae) at 27%.  False or inflating financial claims represent 18% of the investigations”.  It is of note that CV fraud is cited, since this is all too often a significant, but unappreciated risk area for many companies.

Companies necessarily operate in a competitive commercial environment and it seems that a practise has emerged in the field of procurement of submitting what effectively amount to ‘representative proposals’, where the personnel included are viewed not so much as integral and inseparable to a proposal, but as merely representative of the staff who might eventually be provided, should the bid be successful.  Such behaviour manifests itself as a risk in a number of ways.  One of the most common is the inclusion by a company of contractors’ CVs in proposals when that company knows or suspects that the consultant in question is not available to complete the project it is bidding for.  Furthermore, it is not uncommon for contractors to be unaware that their CVs have been included in a proposal.  It is no defence for a company to cite normal commercial practice as an explanation for such conduct; indeed, a single instance of such a misrepresentation is sufficient for a Multilateral Development Bank (MDB) to impose sanctions – including debarment.  The threat for companies of sanctions and in particular, debarment, is now greatly enhance by the cooperative approach to tackling fraud and corruption, which is now at the heart of the efforts of all of the MDBs.

The Report states that it “is important to note that the communication and exchange of information among the integrity offices of other MDBs greatly assisted in OAI’s investigations in 2012”.  It goes on publically to confirm that “ADB routinely shares information with the World Bank’s Integrity Vice Presidency and has received assistance from said office that has facilitated OAI’s investigations”.  Furthermore, the Report openly states that “more than 45 officials from government agencies and 13 development institutions have access to ADBs sanctions list”.  It is, perhaps, worthy of note that the period of debarment most frequently imposed by the ADB, both for firms and individuals, fell into the 4-7 years category.  This is made all the more significant as the relevant qualifying period for considering automatic ‘cross debarment’ is met where the “initial period of debarment exceeds one year”.

It is quite clear, then, that the regime in which international development companies operate has never been stricter and companies should factor this into their risk management strategies.  Not only is the liability often strictly interpreted, but it is now undeniable that knowledge of infringements arising out of that liability is not only being shared, but is being acted on throughout the MDB community.  The report recognises that such cross debarment has the effect of “significantly extending the reach and impact of sanctions” and as a result, it is not surprising that discussions “to further harmonize debarment practices among participating MDBs continue”.  It is with these points in mind that the value of early internal investigation and advice cannot be underestimated when companies are facing allegations, or even accusations, of fraud or corruption.  A misjudgement in respect of a CV could have potentially catastrophic consequences for the entire business.

If you are worried that your company’s internal procedures and programmes might leave you exposed to possible  accusations of fraud and corruption, Bretton Woods Law’s International Organisations Consultancy Service is the perfect solution to ensure compliance with Multilateral Development Banks’ stringent policies. To discuss your company’s needs in person, please click here to contact your nearest office.