Valerie Hughes, Senior Counsel in the International Trade & Investment practice of Bennett Jones, has been selected as a member of the standing pool of arbitrators for the WTO Multi-Party Interim Appeal Arbitration Arrangement (MPIA). In this prestigious role, Valerie will hear appeals of WTO panel reports involving Canada and 22 other WTO members who have agreed to participate in the arrangement. MPIA members include China, the European Union, Mexico, Brazil, Chile, Australia and New Zealand. Other WTO members may join at any time.
The MPIA allows appeals to continue in the absence of an operational WTO Appellate Body, which has not been able to hear appeals since December 2019 because the United States blocked the selection of new Appellate Body members to replace those whose terms had expired. The MPIA will be in place until the WTO Appellate Body is able to function again, which could take two or more years.
Canada helped lead the creation of the MPIA. It was first announced in March 2020 by Canada and 15 other WTO members as an interim appeal arbitration procedure. MPIA members put in place the arrangement in order to preserve an independent and impartial appellate stage in WTO dispute settlement, an essential feature of the WTO dispute resolution mechanism.
"The world needs a stable, multilateral rules-based system for global trade," says Valerie. "It is needed to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and to respond to the growing protectionism we have witnessed in recent years."
MPIA arbitrators are among the global elite in international trade and WTO law. Ten arbitrators were selected from around the world. Valerie was Canada's nominee and is one of four women appointed to the body. The MPIA also includes arbitrators from China, the European Union, Brazil, Singapore, Mexico and New Zealand. Each appeal is heard by three arbitrators from the pool who are selected on the basis of rotation.
Valerie has served as counsel for the Government of Canada before WTO panels and the organization’s Appellate Body, as an adjudicator in WTO disputes, and as the only person to have served as both Director of the WTO Legal Affairs Division (2010-16) and Director of the WTO Appellate Body Secretariat (2001-05). She has been involved in more than 70 WTO disputes.
About Bennett Jones
Bennett Jones is one of Canada's premier business law firms and home to more than 400 lawyers and business advisors. With deep experience in complex transactions and litigation matters, the firm is well equipped to advise businesses and investors with Canadian ventures, and connect Canadian businesses and investors with opportunities around the world.