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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.


CETA: Rights for Canadian multinationals
CETA strengthens the legal position of North American companies in the EU and exposes European governments and taxpayers to potential claims.
ISDS reform: Designing permanent institutions at Working Group III
The UNCITRAL Working Group III turned squarely to designing permanent institutions: a standing appellate mechanism and a multilateral investment court (MIC).
India inks first investment treaty with Brazil post-approval of new templates in 2015
India inked an Investment Cooperation and Facilitation Treaty with Brazil – the first one after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Government in December 2015 approved a new template for such bilateral pacts.
Oil major settles huge capital gains tax bill to Vietnam after Finance Uncovered investigation
When Vietnam signalled it would claim the tax due, oil giant ConocoPhillips issued a pre-emptive legal strike using an arbitration process under the UK-Vietnam bilateral investment treaty.
The US drops ISDS
The US government used to be the chief proponent of strong investor protection clauses in international trade deals. No longer. What happened?
How a trade deal with the US could destroy the UK’s climate change goals
Boris Johnson’s plan to diverge from EU rules threatens crucial environmental regulations.
Vattenfall procedure has cost almost 20 million euros
The energy company Vattenfall is demanding compensation from the Federal Republic of Germany. The costs for the arbitration proceedings could exceed 20 million euros this year.
The BIT footprints of emerging market economies in Africa: What do they portend for ISDS?
Despite debates about crisis in investment treaty arbitration, most emerging market economies are concluding BITs that provide for ISDS and emerging market multinational companies appear to welcome ISDS.
Third miner declares dispute with Tanzania government
The dispute is related to Canada-based company Montero Mining’s investment in the Wigu Hill rare earth element project.
Second company files investment dispute with Tanzania government
Australian mining company Indiana Resources has become the second company in a week to declare a dispute with the Tanzanian government over repossessed retention licences.
View: It’s time for govt to rethink the investor-State dispute regime
India has a faced a number of claims from foreign investors over the years under the BIT regime. It is presently engaged in over 20 investor-State disputes, with a number of them revolving around retrospective tax claims.
With passage of NAFTA 2.0, Congress boosts fossil fuel polluters, particularly in Mexico
NAFTA 2.0 cleared another hurdle as the U.S. Senate approved the trade deal with bipartisan support.
S. Korean firm to request arbitration in investor-state dispute with US government
KTurbo claims US government violated terms of KORUS FTA, after US court judged that the company violated place of origin rules.
S. Korean investment agreements allow paper companies to request international arbitration
South Korea has concluded no fewer than 99 investment agreements that allows paper companies to take advantage of investor-state dispute system.
Uber threatens Colombia with treaty-based arbitration after ban on use of its ride-sharing app
The US-based ridesharing services platform Uber Technologies and its Colombian subsidiary, Uber Colombia, have threatened to initiate arbitration proceedings against Colombia under the Colombia-US Trade Promotion Agreement.
“A la carte” justice for transnational corporations?
At a time when 3,400 trade and investment agreements protect the interests of transnational corporations, there is no international treaty requiring them to uphold human rights and environmental protection.
Winshear delivers notice of intent to submit a claim to arbitration under Canada-Tanzania agreement for the promotion and reciprocal protection of investments
The dispute arises out of certain acts and omissions of the United Republic of Tanzania, relating to the SMP Gold Project, says the company.
Pakistan moves US court to stop over $6bn fine in Reko Diq case
Pakistan has asked a US federal court to pause an Australian copper company’s bid to enforce a $6 billion arbitral award while it looks to have the award nixed.
How ISDS corporate privileges risk to undermine community struggles
Inspiring people fought toxic gold mines, dirty oil drilling and greedy luxury real estate projects. Now, costly investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) lawsuits risk to reverse their community victories.
Ncell backed by international tribunal in Nepal tax row
The ICSID has issued an interim order preventing Nepal’s government from collecting capital gains tax on Axiata’s acquisition of Ncell.