The borders of bias: rectitude in international arbitration

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date



Pieter H. F. Bekker, Rudolf Dolzer, and Michael Waibel




Cambridge University Press




Detlev Vagts continually impresses us with the serious clarity by which he interweaves the precise details of a complicated fact pattern with a broader analysis of their legal and policy implications. The catalogue of his learning includes mainline concerns like corporations and taxation, innovative tools for teaching international business law and historical analysis on the wartime comportment of neutrals or the legal system of the Third Reich.

Professional rectitude has also found its way into the scholarly territories where Detlev has left his intellectual footprint. His service as Chair of a Task Force on legal ethics led him to address several aspects of ethics for both adjudicators (judges and arbitrators) and lawyers (advocates and advisers). With characteristic insight, he sensed that small study groups and legal education programmes commended themselves as an essential preamble to guidelines and codes, but only ‘when the time is ripe’.

In the spirit of that work on professional ethics, this brief contribution to the honour of Vagts' scholarship looks at some of the salient deontological problems that implicate international arbitration, particularly when individuals move between roles as arbitrators and advocates. The modest hope is not to fix standards (the time is not ripe), but to take the first step of identifying issues and perhaps signalling some wrong directions and problematic solutions.


This tribute to Professor Detlev Vagts of the Harvard Law School brings together his colleagues at Harvard and the American Society of International Law, as well as academics, judges and practitioners, many of them his former students. Their essays span the entire spectrum of modern transnational law: international law in general; transnational economic law; and transnational lawyering and dispute resolution. The contributors evaluate established fields of transnational law, such as the protection of property and investment, and explore new areas of law which are in the process of detaching themselves from the nation-state such as global administrative law and the regulation of cross-border lawyering. The implications of decentralised norm-making, the proliferation of dispute settlement mechanisms and the rising backlash against global legal interdependence in the form of demands for preserving state legal autonomy are also examined.

This document is currently not available here.

Link to Publisher Site Link to Publisher Site (BU Community Subscription)