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A.1       Legislation

International arbitration in Colombia continues to be governed by section 3 of Law 1563 of 2012 (“Law 1563“). This section is based on UNCITRAL Model Law with certain amendments (“International Arbitration Statute“).

Congress is still debating Bill No. 009/21, authored by the Ministry of Justice and Law, which proposes to introduce a few amendments to the International Arbitration Statute.[1] The two proposed amendments in this bill have already been reported in previous years but are summarized herein. The first amendment is related to the definition of “international arbitration” and the second amendment is related to the procedure to be followed by Colombian courts if one of the parties requests precautionary measures.

With respect to the first amendment, under section 62 of the International Arbitration Statute, an arbitration is deemed to be international when any of the following apply:

  • The parties to an arbitration agreement have, at the time of the conclusion of that agreement, their domiciles in different states
  • The place where a substantial part of the obligations of the commercial relationship is to be performed, or the place with which the subject matter of the dispute is most closely connected, is different from the parties’ domiciles
  • The dispute affects the interests of international trade

For purposes of this definition, the first proposed amendment states the following:

  • The domicile of a foreign company’s branch is the domicile of the parent company
  • The interests of international trade are affected when the contractual relationship or the economic operation involves the transfer of goods, services or funds across an international border

As to the second proposed amendment, the bill proposes to regulate the proceeding that should be followed by Colombian courts if one of the parties requests precautionary measures before initiating an arbitration proceeding. Such proceeding would be the following:

  • The applicant shall provide, with its request, a simple copy of the arbitration agreement
  • The applicant shall prove that the precautionary measure is effective, relevant, reasonable and timely
  • If the prior requirements are satisfied, the court shall immediately notify the other party and the notified party has three days to oppose the request
  • The court shall decide, within the following 10 days, whether or not to grant the precautionary measure
  • The party to which the precautionary measure is granted shall file an arbitration request within the following 20 days, failing which the court may revoke the precautionary measure
  • The arbitral tribunal may lift, suspend or modify the precautionary measure granted by the court

Bill No. 009/21 has not yet been scheduled for debate in the plenary of the Senate. Given that the debate around this bill has not shown any progress in the past year, it is likely that this bill will follow the same fate as previous bills with similar proposals, which have been shelved.

A.2       Institutions, rules and infrastructure

A.2.1.   Center for Arbitration and Conciliation of the Bogotá Chamber of Commerce

The 2014-2022 International Arbitration Statistical Index, recently published by the Center for Arbitration and Conciliation of Bogota’s Chamber of Commerce,[2] confirms that the Center for Arbitration and Conciliation of the Bogotá Chamber of Commerce (“Center“) is the leading Arbitration Institution in the country and among the most important institutions in the region. Some important statistics highlighted in this publication regarding international arbitration are the following:

  • Since 2014, the proportion of international arbitrations cases administered by this institution has significantly increased: in 2022, 21% of the cases administered by the Center were international arbitrations cases whereas in 2014, that proportion was only 4%
  • Between 2014 and 2022, 53% of the international arbitration cases administered by this institution came from the construction industry and the energy and hydrocarbons sectors
  • Between 2014 and 2022, 86% of the international arbitration cases administered by this institution were conducted in accordance with the Rules of Procedure for International Arbitration of this institution
  • Up to 2021, the Center had registered proceedings with parties from several continents in the world. As of 2022, the Center registered proceedings with parties from all continents.

Moreover, in February 2023, the Center adopted the international list system as the main mechanism for the appointment of arbitrators in international arbitration proceedings in which the Center acts as the administrative arbitral institution or the appointing authority. This means that the Center will no longer make designations by lottery, which was the mechanism previously applied and that was inspired by the appointment mechanism used by the Center in the context of domestic arbitrations. This change adopts best practices according to international standards and was introduced by the Center’s Court of Arbitration, whose decision was published in March 2023.

B.         CASES

In the last year, Colombia’s Supreme Court dismissed a request for recognition of an international investment award. Moreover, Colombia was the prevailing party in an investment arbitration dispute filed by a Spanish investor alleging that the investor’s claim was manifestly without legal merit under ICSID Arbitration Rule 41(5). Finally, a Council State decision clarified some of the countours of the 2019 T-354 Judgment according to which international arbitration awards can be challenged by means of a tutela action in Colombia.

B.1       Swiss Renewable Power Partners S.A.R.L v. Spain

 On 30 August 2022, the Civil Chamber of the Colombian Supreme Court of Justice dismissed the request for recognition of an international investment award. Through such award, an investment arbitration tribunal held that Spain breached article 10(1) of the Energy Charter Treaty and ordered Spain to pay more than EUR 90 million in damages to a number of claimant entities (see The PV Investors v. The Kingdom of Spain, PCA Case No. 2012-14, Final Award (28 February 2020) (Kaufmann-Kohler, Brower, Sepúlveda-Amor)).

The Supreme Court’s decision is based on article 90 of the Colombian General Procedural Code. According to said article, Colombian courts must reject a demand when they lack jurisdiction. The decision does not elaborate further as to why the court does not have jurisdiction to decide the recognition of an investment arbitration award against a sovereign state; a key issue that should have been explained further, even more so if one takes into account that article 30 of the Colombian  General Procedural Code states that the Civil Chamber of the Supreme Court has jurisdiction to decide on the exequatur of international arbitral awards, in accordance with the applicable rules and of proceedings in which a foreign state is a party, in the cases provided for by international law.

The decision rejecting the recognition petition was challenged through a recurso de súplica and a decision to such challenge has been pending since September 2022. It is the very same chamber that will decide the challenge with the caveat that a different magistrate (i.e., the President of the Civil Chamber) will deliver the decision. It is expected that this pending decision will delve into the sovereign immunity rules applicable in Colombia and whether the execution of an investment treaty providing for investment arbitration and/or the participation of a sovereign state in an investment arbitration may constitute a waiver to such immunity. Such decision will be a landmark decision that should provide clarity about the recognition and enforcement in Colombia of investment arbitration awards against sovereign states issued by non-ICSID arbitration tribunals.

B.2       AFC Investment Solutions S.L. v. Colombia

In April 2020, AFC Investment Solutions (AFC) filed a request for arbitration against Colombia before the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) and under the Colombia-Spain Bilateral Investment Treaty (“Colombia-Spain BIT“). AFC claimed that Colombia disregarded its obligations under the Colombia-Spain BIT when the Superintendence of Finance, ordered immediate possession of a Colombian company in order to liquidate its assets and businesses and took a series of complementary measures. AFC owned 80% of the shares in that company. The Superintendence measures were taken on 18 November 2015 and confirmed on 29 January 2016, after a challenge filed by the Colombian company.

According to AFC, the measures adopted by the Superintendence were unfounded since neither the company nor its management and control bodies had incurred in the irregularities denounced by the Superintendence. Moreover, the company was not in a critical condition and its defects did not have the seriousness attributed by the state entity. By virtue of its disagreement, AFC submitted a letter to the Colombian Embassy in Spain on 16 November 2018, in which it alleged that the measures adopted by the superintendence contravened the Colombia-Spain BIT.

Colombia filed a request for preliminary objections under ICSID Arbitration Rule 41(5) alleging that AFC’s claims were manifestly without legal merit because the Request for Arbitration was filed more than three years after the date on which AFC became aware or should have been aware of the alleged violation of the Colombia-Spain BIT as well as the losses or damages suffered, which was against article 10(5) of such treaty.

The tribunal admitted Colombia’s preliminary objection filed under Rule 41(5) of the ICSID Rules since it considered that AFC’s claim was filed after the three-year time period established in the Colombia-Spain BIT and ordered AFC to pay USD 146,102 as costs. For the tribunal, under the Colombia-Spain BIT, a claim to arbitration is made by submitting a request for arbitration in accordance with article 36 of the ICSID Convention. The notification of the controversy is not enough. Furthermore, it found: (i) no obligation on Colombia’s side to inform an investor that the statute of limitations had elapsed and consequently, the expiration of its right to file a claim under the Colombia-Spain BIT and; (ii) the estoppel doctrine cannot modify the conditions set forth in the treaty to understand that a respondent state party consented to arbitration and in neither case, the requirements for this doctrine to apply were not shown in this case (i.e., an unequivocal conduct or representation, which, in accordance with normal practice and good faith, is perceived as a state position that would not be contradicted in the future and, in case of a state entity, with reasonable appearance that the conduct or representation would bind the state).

This case has an important meaning for the Colombian State because of the early stage of the proceeding in which Colombia prevailed and the fact that the respondent’s legal team was made up of a group of lawyers from the General Directorate of International Legal Defense without the support of outside counsel.

B.3       Metroplús S.A. v. ICDR Arbitral Tribunal

In 2019, Colombia’s Constitutional Court held in Judgment T-354 of 2019 that in Colombia international arbitration awards can be challenged by means of a tutela — a constitutional action for the protection of constitutional rights ― under “exceedingly exceptional circumstances” and so long as the petition to set aside the award has previously been exhausted. The text of the decision was not clear about whether the tutela action was admissible against both partial and final awards and was not conclusive about the possibility of admitting tutela actions against procedural orders issued by international arbitral tribunals.

That precise issue was recently brought before Colombia’s Council of State. Petitioner Metroplús S.A. (“Metroplus“) filed a tutela action against an arbitration tribunal constitued under the Rules of Arbitration of the International Center for Dispute Resolution, requesting the protection of its constitutional rights to due process and access to the Administration of Justice. According to Metroplus, the ICDR Arbitral Tribunal violated such rights with the issuance of procedural orders 35 and 38 of 8 and 22 February 2022, through which it deemed Metroplus’ counterclaims in the arbitration proceeding as desisted.

In a decision dated 26 April 2022, the Council of State declared that it lacked jurisdiction to hear and decide a tutela action filed against procedural orders 35 and 38. The Council of State’s decision indicated that ruling T-354 of 2019 was not a binding precedent to decide on the admissibility of the tutela since that such ruling only allowed tutelas against final awards putting an end to arbitration proceedings.

[1] See Senate’s Bill 009 of 20 July 2021, articles 33-35.

[2] Center for Arbitration and Conciliation of the Chamber of Commerce of Bogotá, International Arbitration Statistical Index (2022), available at


Claudia Benavides is a partner in Baker McKenzie's Bogotá office. She has been the global chair of the Dispute Resolution Practice Group since 2019. Claudia is a highly regarded expert in transnational litigation and international arbitration. She has over 25 years of extensive experience handling complex litigations and arbitrations related to construction and infrastructure projects, post-acquisition disputes, disputes in the energy sector, distribution and supply agreements, insolvency, and general breach of contract. Claudia often advises investors on treaty planning and leveraging international protections in the context of government interference. She has been recognized by many of the most renowned international rankings and publications.


Daniela Páez-Cala is a senior associate at Baker McKenzie Bogota's Dispute Resolution Practice Group. She obtained her law degree in 2011 and has worked in litigation and arbitration ever since. In recent years, Daniela has dedicated most of her time to international arbitration. She has participated in international commercial arbitrations under the rules of the ICC and other arbitration institutions in Latin America, as well as in investment arbitrations under the rules of ICSID and UNCITRAL. Before joining Baker McKenzie, Daniela worked in the dispute resolution teams of prominent firms in Colombia and the United States. She was admitted to the practice of law in Colombia in 2011 and in the State of New York (USA) in 2016. Daniela can be reached at