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investor-state disputes | ISDS

Investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) refers to a way of handling conflicts under international investment agreements whereby companies from one party are allowed to sue the government of another party. This means they can file a complaint and seek compensation for damages. Many BITs and investment chapters of FTAs allow for this if the investor’s expectation of a profit has been negatively affected by some action that the host government took, such as changing a policy. The dispute is normally handled not in a public court but through a private abritration panel. The usual venues where these proceedings take place are the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (World Bank), the International Chamber of Commerce, the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law or the International Court of Justice.

ISDS is a hot topic right now because it is being challenged very strongly by concerned citizens in the context of the EU-US TTIP negotiations, the TransPacific Partnership talks and the CETA deal between Canada and the EU.


Sweden sued for $1.8 billion due to environmental regulation
For the first time, Sweden has recieved a notice of arbitration for banning the exploration and mining of uranium.
ICSID is modernizing and simplifying its rules
In amending the current rules, the ICSID aims to ultimately make the procedure less paper-intensive by using technology for the digital transmission of documents and case procedures.
US banned climate from UK trade talks
The US has banned any mention of climate change in US-UK trade talks.
Korean company starts arbitration against India
South Korean state owned power utility Kowepo has begun international arbitration proceedings against India in Singapore for not honouring a fuel supply commitment to its Maharashtra power plant.
EU governments under pressure to quit Energy Charter Treaty
Climate campaigners are demanding that European Union countries pull out of the treaty unless they can negotiate an end to the pact’s investor-state dispute mechanism.
Open letter on the Energy Charter Treaty (ECT)
We – 278 environmental, climate, consumer, development, and trade related civil society groups, as well as trade unions – believe that the ECT is incompatible with the implementation of the Paris Climate Agreement.
Civil society seeks reforms to stem trade suits losses
Civil society groups are now calling on governments to reform their investor state dispute settlement because “it is being unfairly used by investors to sue states for millions of dollars.”
Investors still waging war with Spain over retroactive cuts
Spain has offered an olive branch in its long-running legal battle with renewables developers. But the fight isn’t over yet.
Experts caution Uganda on investment treaties
Most Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs) are not just used by investors to inform their investment decisions, but are increasingly becoming tools used to sue States in a foreign or international court.
Andhra Pradesh Energy department quashes claims of international arbitration
Reports claimed that foreign investors threatened to drag Andhra Pradesh to international arbitration for ‘cancelling’ renewable power purchase agreements.
Spain is ordered to pay damages of EUR 290.6 million in NextEra renewable energy case
An ICSID tribunal ordered Spain to pay two Dutch investors EUR 290.6 million in compensation for its breach of the FET standard under ECT
How World Bank arbitrators mugged Pakistan
Thanks to the World Bank’s flawed and corrupt investment arbitration process, the rich are making a fortune at the expense of poor countries.
Spain offers green energy investors incentives to drop lawsuits
The government will offer subsidies which will allow investors that abandon litigation to maintain their current profitability rate of 7.39% until 2031.
Spain held liable for breach of FET under the ECT for frustrating legitimate expectations of 9REN, a Luxembourg-based renewable energy investor
An ICSID tribunal held that Spain violated Fair and Equitable Treatment under the Energy Charter Treaty.
Modernizing the Energy Charter Treaty: A make-or-break moment for sustainable, climate-friendly energy policy
In investor–state dispute settlement (ISDS), ironies do occasionally occur. Sometimes they’re bitter. Sometimes they’re carbon-intensive. Sometimes they’re radioactive.
Environmental injustice: How treaties undermine the right to a healthy environment
Global investment governance needs to be redesigned for the 21st century, with people and the planet at the core.
Amulsar uncertainty continues: A local activist and diaspora armenians share their concerns
Roads to the Amulsar gold mine have been closed for a year and a half by residents of neighboring communities opposed to the mine operated by Lydian who is considering international arbitration.
Aura Energy files claim against Sweden to recover losses following uranian mining ban
Aura Energy lodged a claim against Sweden to recover the losses incurred from the Haggan uranium project following the country’s decision to ban uranian mining.
Kuwait wins int’l property ownership case
ICSID dismisses lawsuit filed by Egyptian company.
CTU concerned with "upgrade" of China Free Trade Agreement
The CTU is concerned that the "upgrade" of the New Zealand-China Free Trade Agreement has not removed the threat of investor suits against the New Zealand government.