Nudrat Piracha, SJD ’20, Makes Her Mark on International Investment Arbitration

Portrait of Nudrat Piracha
July 29, 2020

Nudrat Piracha, SJD ’20, the first Pakistani woman and fourth Pakistani lawyer to receive the highest law degree in the United States, has been appointed as a member of an Ad Hoc Committee of the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) in the case of Raymond Charles Eyre and Montrose Developments (Private) Limited v. the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka.

She is the second Pakistani to be appointed to the Ad Hoc Committee; the first was a former attorney general of Pakistan. Members of the Committee are appointed by ICSID itself for every case from a very limited pool of arbitrators nominated by States for up to eight years.

“I have worked as a counsel in multiple arbitrations over the past 17 years, but this appointment marks the beginning of my career as an arbitrator,” Ms. Piracha said.

Ms. Piracha’s role as a member of the Committee is to decide whether the award rendered in the case is to be upheld or annulled. Arbitrations under the auspices of ICSID are final and binding. However, one of the recourses available under the procedural rules is that a party may apply for annulment of the award on limited grounds. The members of the Ad Hoc Committee would decide on the annulment.

“Being considered for arbitrator positions is one of the incentives I had in pursuing an SJD at GW Law and establishing myself as an expert in international law,” Ms. Piracha continued. “This appointment would not have been possible without my education and learning under the tutelage of those who are best in the field and the incredible mentors who have supported me throughout these years.”

Ms. Piracha also was a Fulbright Scholar, a Weinstein JAMS International Fellow for 2018, and the first lawyer from Pakistan to become a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, UK (FCIArb). She was a partner at a leading Pakistani firm, Samdani & Qureshi, before pursuing an SJD at GW Law.

At GW Law, Ms. Piracha defended her dissertation on the topic, “Toward Uniformly Accepted Principles for Interpreting MFN Clauses: Striking a Better Balance between State Sovereignty and the Protection of Investors.” Her dissertation committee was led by Professor Sean Murphy and supervised by Judge Charles Brower and Stanimir Alexandrov, renowned international investment arbitration experts and professorial lecturers in law at GW Law, and Rosa Celorio, Associate Dean for International and Comparative Legal Studies and Burnett Family Professorial Lecturer in International and Comparative Law and Policy.

Judge Brower said of Ms. Piracha, “Nudrat impressed me from the moment I met her five years ago. She has incredible energy, intelligence, commitment, endurance, and dedication.”  Mr. Alexandrov also commented, “I fully expect that Nudrat will have a significant impact not only on the development of international investment arbitration law and jurisprudence but, more generally, on the legal profession in Pakistan.”

Professor Murphy added, "An exciting thing about Nudrat's scholarship is that she brings to the table not just a keen intellect, but a perspective badly needed in the field of international arbitration, one that reflects youth, diversity, and the global south." Dean Celorio also indicated, “Nudrat is already influencing and shaping the field of international investment arbitration with a very unique lens and set of experiences.”

Ms. Piracha said of her experience at GW Law, “It has been an honor, privilege, and enriching experience working with giants in the field. This SJD defines a great milestone in my career and aspiration to start the first all women Alternative Dispute Resolution and prevention practice in Pakistan and revolutionize the dispute mechanisms in Pakistan.”