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di Roberto Virzo
Stay of International proceedings on ground of 'connection' between pending actions
In recent years in view of the multiplication of international courts and tribunals allied to the increasing tendency of States to resort to dispute resolution proceedings that entail a binding decision, it has frequently happened in relation to a plurality of international disputes sharing one or more common identifying elements or which are otherwise connected that the parties resort to contemporaneous proceedings before different international courts or tribunals (or other dispute settlement bodies).
When that happens, one must ask whether – as some international courts and tribunals have recently held – staying one or more of the proceedings instituted to settle connected disputes can serve the purpose of coordination between the various courts and tribunals (or bodies empowered to issue binding decisions) concerned and avoidance of a conflict of jurisdiction between them.
This article will thus examine some of the rulings made by international courts and tribunals suspending proceedings brought before them. It will dwell also on the suspension of proceedings in a case before the Dispute Settlement Body of the WTO.
More precisely, this article will examine, firstly, cases of suspension on grounds of "connection" of arbitral proceedings held to depend on principal proceedings instituted before a different international court or tribunal and, secondly, cases of suspension at the parties' joint request of one or all parallel proceedings entailing a binding decision instituted before various international courts or tribunals or other dispute settlement bodies.
At the end of the analysis there will be an attempt to respond to the question posed as to the rationale for staying one or more proceedings instituted in parallel with one another for the settlement of connected disputes.