The Orinoco Steamship Company case (United States of America / Venezuela)

Pursuant to an agreement dated February 17, 1903, a mixed commission was charged with deciding claims presented by U.S. citizens against Venezuela. All questions on which the commissioners were in disagreement were to be finally settled by an umpire. One such question was a claim presented by the steamship company Orinoco. The Government of the United States of America refused to recognize the umpire's decision in relation to this claim, as it considered it to be void due to the excess of jurisdiction and numerous errors of law and fact. The Government of Venezuela maintained that the decision was both valid and final. The two governments referred this dispute to arbitration.


First, the Tribunal was to decide whether the umpire's award was not void and, and whether it had to be considered so conclusive as to preclude a re-examination of the case on its merits. If the Tribunal decided that the award was not final, then it would re-examine the case and render a decision on the merits in conformity with justice and equity.


The Tribunal upheld the umpire's award on certain points, but ruled that in relation to other points the umpire's award was invalid due to excessive exercise of power because the umpire had misinterpreted the provisions of the arbitration agreement. Since the Tribunal's award resulted in upholding certain claims of the United States of America which the umpire had rejected, the Tribunal deemed it equitable to allow part of the sum claimed by the U.S.A. in counsel fees and expenses, which the Tribunal fixed ex aequo et bono at US$ 7,000. The Tribunal ordered Venezuela to pay interest at the rate fixed in Venezuelean law which was three per cent. 


Case information

Name(s) of Claimant(s)
Name(s) of Respondent(s) -
Names of Parties -
Case number 1909-02
Administering institution Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA)
Case status Concluded
Type of case Inter-state arbitration
Subject matter or economic sector - Other -
Procedural rules - Other -
Treaty or contract under which proceedings were commenced

Bilateral treaty
Agreement signed at Caracas on the 13th of February 1909
Country A: United States
Country B: Venezuela

Language of Proceeding English
Seat of Arbitration (by Country) - N/A -
Arbitrator(s), Conciliator(s), Other Neutral(s)

Mr. H. Lammasch

Mr. A.M.F. Beernaert

Mr. G. de Quesada

Representatives of the Claimant(s) -
Representatives of the Respondent(s) -
Representatives of the Parties
Number of Arbitrators in case 3
Date of commencement of proceeding 13 February 1909
Date of issue of final award 25 October 1910
Length of Proceedings 1-2 years
Additional notes -


Award or other decision
Award of the Tribunal