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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.


Land grab to go to arbitration
About 1 500 commercial farmers who have had their land forcibly and sometimes violently seized by Robert Mugabe’s government have taken their case to international arbitration.
Argentina to seek annulment of ICSID ruling in favour of CMS Energy
The Argentine government said it will try to annul a ruling by the World Bank’s International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) in favour of US company CMS Energy Corp.
Steps needed to avoid legal disputes with US
The Thai government must become more efficient and enact more ironclad laws in order to avoid unnecessary legal disputes with US investors once the Thailand-US free trade area (FTA) agreement takes effect, says a local researcher.
Spectre of lawsuit losses hangs over Bucharest
Romania’s past treatment of foreign investors may soon come back to haunt its new government and an economic plan agreed with Brussels ahead of membership of the European Union. A World Bank arbitration panel, the Icsid, is expected to rule in coming weeks on a lawsuit seeking $350m (€270m, £180m) from the state brought by Noble Ventures, an American investment group.
Scotiabank files $600M US claim against Argentina
Scotiabank has filed a $600 million US compensation claim against Argentina, claiming that "discriminatory" actions taken by Argentine authorities led to the total loss of its investment in its Scotiabank Quilmes subsidiary in 2002.
Italy claims SA in breach of treaty
The minerals and energy department is engaged in talks with Italian companies operating in SA over possible breaches of the SA-Italy bilateral investment treaty in the implementation of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act.
Corporate conquest, global geopolitics: Intellectual property rights and bilateral investment treaties
Examines how bilateral investment treaties and free trade agreements which contain specific investment provisions reflect geopolitical concerns and redefine rights and privileges for transnational corporations, including with respect to commercial control over biodiversity through intellectual property rights.
NAFTA Chapter 11 investor-state cases: Lessons for the CAFTA
A new study by Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch analyzes 42 NAFTA investor-state challenges and illustrates how the proposed CAFTA would extend the threat.
Germany’s Fraport flexes muscle
Fraport AG of Germany has decided to flex its diplomatic muscle in pressing for immediate compensation from the Philippine government for their investment in the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Passenger Terminal 3 (NAIA-3) project, under the 1997 Philippine-German bilateral investment treaty.
Investment: NAFTA illegal?
On January 24, the Council of Canadians and the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) launched a constitutional challenge against NAFTA’s Chapter 11 rules before the Ontario Superior Court of Justice. This is the first time that a court will consider the constitutionality of international trade rules.
FTA: Facing The Apocalypse?
The graffiti on the walls in Quito ask if the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) that the US is pushing on Colombia, Peru and Ecuador means that our days are numbered.
The secret trade courts - NYT editorial
In Ecuador, residents of the country’s eastern rainforest are suing Chevron Texaco. They say that the methods Texaco used to drill for oil in the 1970’s and 1980’s caused billions of dollars in environmental damage and health problems that continue today.
CMS vs Argentina
Decision of ICSID Tribunal (July 17, 2003) in regard to objections to jurisdiction in CMS Gas Transmission Company vs The Republic of Argentina. CMS bases its claim against Argentina on a 1991 Argentina-US Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT).
FTA With Andean Nations Needs Mechanism to Resolve Investor-State Disputes
The free trade agreement the United States plans to negotiate with the Andean countries of Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru should contain an investor-state dispute settlement mechanism, witnesses at a Trade Policy Staff Committee hearing on the Andean FTA said March 17.
Bechtel and GE File Arbitration over Dabhol Power Company
Bechtel Enterprises Holdings, Inc. and GE Structured Finance (GESF) have filed an arbitration action against the Government of India to recover their investments in the Dabhol Power Company (DPC).
Government in a tizzy as Dabhol defence cracks
The newly-appointed solicitor firm in London, Evershed, has backed out of the Dabhol arbitration case at the last minute, leaving the Union government in a quandary.
G.E., Bechtel file $1.2 b claim against Govt
BECHTEL Enterprises Holdings Inc and GE Structured Finance on Monday said that they have filed an international arbitration claim against the Government to recover their investments in Dabhol Power Company (DPC).
Govt Seeks 60 More Days To File Dabhol Defence
The government of India (GoI) has sought a 60-day extension from the Arbitral Tribunal in London for filing a defence statement after GE blocked the appointment of Evershed as India’s new solicitor firm in the UK.