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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.


The Covid-19 pandemic and liability under investment treaties
COVID-19 can increase liability for countries under international investment treaties. Developing countries face imminent challenges under such treaties.
Nigeria begins reforms of international investment agreements
Nigeria is undertaking series of reforms of the country’s bilateral investment treaties to attract responsible, inclusive, balanced and sustainable investments.
USD4.65 million litigation funding secured
Funding will support legal costs associated with the claim against Tanzania regarding the the expropriation of the Ntaka Hill Nickel Project.
Treaty claims for cancelled or modified infrastructure projects in the wake of Covid-19
A recent ICSID tribunal has denied an investor’s claim concerning the development of an airport project in Latvia, which may have wider implications for infrastructure projects that may now be under feasibility reviews as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Why is Malaysia still committed to the CPTPP fraud?
It is now abundantly clear that the CPTPP has not only proved irrelevant in the face trade protectionism but would actually strengthen IPRs, raising the costs of Covid-19 tests, treatments and vaccines.
Lithuanian court won’t consider EUR 240 mln lawsuit against Veolia group yet
Vilnius regional Court said it had not accepted the lawsuit as the arbitration procedure in Washington has not been competed yet.
US glass maker seeks to seize Venezuela-owned oil tanker to collect award, court papers show
US glass manufacturer O-I Glass Inc is seeking to seize an oil tanker owned by Venezuela to collect part of a $500 million arbitration award it won.
Canadian miner’s multi-million dollar suit against Kazakhstan dismissed
An international tribunal has dismissed a nearly $1 billion claim against Kazakhstan brought by a Canadian junior miner over a botched deal to operate gold mines in the country.
Stockholm arbitration body suspends termination of Chisinau Airport concession
The Arbitration Institute of the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce has suspended the termination of the Chisinau International Airport concession contract until it reaches a final decision on the case.
Zimbabwe to pay white farmers $3.5 billion over Mugabe land reforms
Some of the dispossessed farmers were from countries such as Germany, Netherlands and Switzerland whose properties were protected by investment treaties between Harare and the Western countries.
Lupaka secures financing for its arbitration claim under the Canada-Peru free trade agreement
Lupaka Gold Corp. reports that it has entered into an arbitration funding agreement for up to USD$4.1 million to support the company’s arbitration claim against Peru.
Japan and UK may forgo dispute settlement system in trade deal
Japan and the U.K. are studying a plan of not including an investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) system in the bilateral trade deal they are currently negotiating.
Indian dry bulk terminal business of French group Louis Dreyfus Armateurs collapses
ALBA Asia Pvt Ltd, the Indian dry bulk port operating company controlled by French shipping group Louis Dreyfus Armateurs SAS (LDA), has collapsed with state-run Visakhapatnam Port Trust terminating a contract for running a dry bulk terminal at the port just five years into a 30-year deal.
MPs try to block corporations using new trade deals for lawsuits
MPs are set to try to force the government to block corporate lawsuits relating to future trade deals, in a bid to safeguard human rights.
Green NGOs demand EU dumps controversial energy treaty
Green groups have renewed their demand for the EU and member states to jointly withdraw from the controversial Energy Charter Treaty (ECT).
A Canadian mining company is threatening to sue Mexico to avoid paying taxes... and is asking Canada to help them do it
Already, Mexico’s progressive reforms have made it an ISDS target. First Majestic, a Canadian silver mining company has been threatening Mexico for the last few years, under NAFTA’s Chapter 11.
Barrick Gold sends dispute notice to Papua New Guinea over Porgera mine
Canadian miner Barrick Gold Corp said it served a dispute notice to the Papua New Guinea government over the country’s refusal to extend a mining lease in the Porgera valley.
The obscure treaty that could kill a global green recovery
The Energy Charter Treaty, with 53 signatories, allows energy companies to sue states that make their business unprofitable.
Corporations to sue states for pandemic billions
Corporations are busy weaponising obscure legal instruments to sue government for their actions to save lives and jobs during the coronavirus crisis.
Investor-state dispute settlement in Africa and the AfCFTA Investment Protocol
With the growing concern over the traditional ISDS system, it is highly unlikely that the AfCFTA will include an ISDS mechanism giving investors access to go to international arbitration under conventional international tribunals.