The University of Ottawa and Queen’s University in Canada have launched a joint TradeLab International Economic Law Clinic.
Building on a similar course taught by Professor Debra Steger at the University of Ottawa over the past few years, the two Canadian universities decided to collaborate and establish a joint clinic which commenced in January 2018. The co-directors are: Professor Debra Steger at the University of Ottawa and Adjunct Assistant Professor Valerie Hughes at Queen’s University. Professor J. Anthony (Tony) VanDuzer and Assistant Professor Wolfgang Alschner (uOttawa) and Assistant Professor Nicolas Lamp (Queen’s) are also academic supervisors.
Left: Professors Debra Steger, Wolfgang Alschner and Anthony VanDuzer (uOttawa)
Right: Professors Nicolas Lamp and Valerie Hughes (Queen's)
The new joint clinic, which is able to offer assistance to beneficiaries in both English and French, is currently working on several projects. Both Queen’s and uOttawa students are carrying out related projects on gender and trade for the International Trade Centre, Geneva (see here). Some of the other public projects include:
1. For Global Affairs Canada, students are examining the legal, logistical and administrative challenges faced by ad hoc dispute settlement panels under Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with a view to determining whether established institutions, such as the World Trade Organization, the Permanent Court of Arbitration, or ICSID, could provide secretariat support and thereby enhance the viability of dispute settlement under FTAs.
2. For Conservation International, U.S.A., the student team will seek to identify subsidies made available to extractive industries for exploiting natural resources, specifically in Guyana and Suriname, which lead to detrimental environmental effects and will offer recommendations for a regulatory framework for mitigating environmental damage that will include a dispute settlement mechanism.
3. Working together with the East African Community (EAC) Secretariat, students will develop proposals to improve and expand TradeBarriers.org, a website relied upon by EAC members and others to identify and resolve non-tariff barriers (NTBs) and share information about obligations under the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA). The goal is to suggest ways to make TradeBarriers.org a more effective mechanism for the reduction of non-tariff barriers, in compliance with the Trade Facilitation Agreement.
Queen's students enrolled in the joint clinic are making a presentation about their project (above).
University of Ottawa
1. For Global Affairs Canada, students will explore how arbitration tribunals have arrived at different results or used different reasoning when interpreting and applying investment treaties. There has been much debate over whether inconsistency is a problem in investment arbitration. Two projects will be undertaken to help better understand the issues: (1) a framing study and (2) a case study of national treatment clauses:
a) Framing project on how (in)consistent are investment arbitration awards?
Students will review secondary commentary and analysis on disputes where inconsistencies are said to have arisen with the goal of producing a typology of issues brought forward in investment law’s consistency debate.
b) Inconsistency in investment law awards on national treatment
Using national treatment clauses as a testing ground to review inconsistent approaches, students will systematically review the case law on national treatment and map the variation in its interpretation and application.
First session of the joint TradeLab clinic at uOttawa (above).
 Confidential projects cannot be identified and are not described in this Newsletter.