The International Arbitration Club of New York (IACNY) announced today that Simon Batifort and J. Benton Heath are the recipients of the 2019 Smit-Lowenfeld Prize for the best article in the field of international arbitration.

The prize is being awarded for the article, “The New Debate on the Interpretation of MFN Clauses in Investment Treaties: Putting the Brakes on Multilateralization”, which was published in the American Journal of International Law (Vol. III No. 4). The article examines recent developments in how Most-Favored-Nation (MFN) clauses in investment treaties are used, arguing that the conventional view that MFN clauses can always be used to “import” substantive standards of treatment must be re-evaluated in light of emerging evidence, including many states increasingly questioning that use.

The prize was presented to Mr. Batifort and Mr. Heath on Tuesday, January 22, 2019, at a dinner and program held in their honor in New York City. The article was chosen by an IACNY selection committee chaired by Rory O. Millson, a retired partner of Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP. “Mr. Batifort and Mr. Heath have challenged longstanding assumptions around Most-Favored-Nation clauses in a thoughtful and substantive manner,” said Mr. Millson. “They are deserving recipients of this year’s Smit-Lowenfeld prize.” The selection committee for the prize also included James P. Duffy IV of Baker McKenzie, Martin F. Gusy of K&L Gates LLP, Fredrick E. Sherman of Jones Day and Richard F. Ziegler of Jenner & Block LLP.

L to R: Rory O. Millson, Chair of the IACNY Selection Committee for the Smit-Lowenfeld Prize; Simon Batifort; J. Benton Heath; and Lawrence W. Newman, Presiding Member of the IACNY

Lawrence W. Newman, Presiding Member of the IACNY and Of Counsel at Baker McKenzie, said: “The winning article approaches a topic, the evolution of MFN clauses in investment treaties, that is ripe for reassessment. Its conclusions merit the consideration of all practitioners in the field, and could lead to new approaches in the future.” Simon Batifort said: “I am greatly honored to be receiving the Smit-Lowenfeld Prize. Our objective in writing this article was to contribute to the academic debate regarding the interpretation of MFN clauses as well as to provide practitioners with a new perspective on an issue that frequently arises in investment treaty arbitration. I am delighted that the quality of the article is being recognized by the International Arbitration Club of New York’s community of eminent international arbitration practitioners.”

J. Benton Heath said: “I am extremely grateful to the International Arbitration Club of New York for this honor. As calls intensify to redesign the system of investor-state dispute settlement, we must be willing to revisit issues that we once thought were settled, and I hope that our work has contributed to that critical reflection. I am even more pleased to be sharing this honor with Simon Batifort. Our close collaboration exemplifies the kind of partnership and teamwork that I believe is essential to a successful legal practice, and it is humbling to have that work recognized by the top practitioners in the field.”

The prize-winning article, “The New Debate on the Interpretation of MFN Clauses in Investment Treaties: Putting the Brakes on Multilateralization,” is freely available to read until 28 February, 2019. For more information on the American Journal of International Law here and to find out how you can submit your article to the journal, please follow this link.

You can find out more about the annual Smit-Lowenfeld prize here.

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