French professor accepts appointment to Infinito arbitration panel

Brigitte Stern, a French professor, has accepted appointment as one of three persons who will serve on an arbitration panel in a case between Costa Rica and Infinito Gold Ltd.

Professor Stern taught international law at the University of Paris. She is a frequent member of arbitration panels. She was Costa Rica’s choice, and she speaks English.

No panel member has yet accepted an appointment from Infinito, according to the records on line with the World Bank’s International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes. After Infinto’s arbitrator is selected, he or she and Professor Stern will choose a third member of the panel.

Infinito filed its claim March 4. The Canadian firm is seeking $97 million because Costa Rica shut down its Las Crucitas open pit gold mining project in Cutris de San Carlos.

The Canadian firm of Torys LLP, headquartered in Toronto, will represent Infinito. The firm is one of the so-called Seven Sisters, law firms identified as the top seven in Canada.

Costa Rica is represented by Arnold & Porter in Washington. The Ministerio de Comercio Exterior handles such claims.

Originally Infinito considered seeking $1 billion as an arbitration award.

Infinito began working here in 1993 through a local subsidiary. Since then the price of gold has skyrocketed. The firm also has been the victim of politics. In his first press conference as president, Abel Pacheco said he was ordering a moratorium on open pit mining. He said that even though Infinito had a valid contract.

Eventually the courts backed the gold mining company.

After additional hearings and court cases, the Tribunal Contencioso Administrativo ordered the mining permit to be invalidated.

The mine project was opposed vigorously by some environmentalists.

The case will be argued and considered under an investment treaty between Costa Rica and Canada.

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