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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.


Civil society groups sound alarm over COVID-19 claims in ’corporate courts’
Countries could be facing a wave of cases from transnational corporations suing governments over actions taken to respond to the Covid pandemic using a system known as investor-state dispute settlement, or ISDS. Some 630 organisations from across the world, representing hundreds of millions of people, are calling on governments in an open letter to urgently take action to shut down this threat.
Countries serious about climate change should leave the Energy Charter Treaty, says former ECT official
Interview with Yamina Saheb, former head of unit in the Energy Charter Treaty Secretariat .
Prairie Mining secures litigation funding to sue Poland
The claims had arisen out of certain measures taken by Poland, allegedly in breach of the Energy Charter Treaty and the Australia-Poland Bilateral Investment Treaty.
Morocco’s new model BIT: Innovative features and policy considerations
In the face of the increasing number of claims brought by investors against host states on the basis of BITs and the exorbitant amounts awarded to investors, Morocco has undertaken a review of its model BIT using a flexible and rational approach.
Potential ISDS problems post Covid-19
The Transpacific Partnership Agreement involves investor - state dispute settlement clauses, which large companies may use ISDS to sue governments for actions they took to stop the spread of the virus.
What is Dubrovnik today?
A golf course, free-trade agreements, and the fight for the soul of a city
Open letter to governments on ISDS and COVID-19
We urge you to take immediate action to ensure that the duty of governments to regulate in the public interest is safeguarded and put beyond the scope of ISDS claims.
Foreign investment, knowledge and international arbitration: inside a research trip
International investment law and investor dispute arbitration too often fail to notice the concerns of local actors. Governance of these international mechanisms needs to take a more holistic, development-based view of the issues.
NextEra wins millionaire renewables lawsuit against Spain
The ICSID has lifted the suspension on the execution of the €290 million award NextEra obtained a year ago.
Ray of hope for Reko Diq penalty being nixed
Pakistan’s chances of having its $6 billion penalty in the Reko Diq case annulled have received a boost with a committee of the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID).
Preparing for the COVID aftermath
Arbitration cases due to COVID emergency measures would exacerbate the challenges that public budgets are already facing due to the need for stimulus measures and the difficulty in collecting government revenue.
Africa should resist acceding to the Energy Charter Treaty
Joining the Energy Charter Treaty could cost developing countries money that is urgently needed to fight Covid-19 and a loaming economic crisis. The Energy Charter Treaty has become increasingly controversial.
Survival clause under Aus-Indo bit will not survive the implementation of IA-CEPA
On 5 February 2020, Australia and Indonesia signed an exchange of letters agreeing to the termination of the Aus-Indo BIT and its sunset clause.
Why we need a moratorium on investment disputes during COVID-19
We call for a moratorium on investor-state arbitration cases and clarity of legal principles to ensure that governments have the policy space to protect their citizenry and combat the epidemic.
EU Commission launches public consultation on protection of intra-EU investment
The EU Commission has launched a public consultation calling for comments on its initiative to improve the protection of intra-EU investment. This initiative could lead to the adoption of new rules enhancing investors’ rights vis-à-vis EU Member States and to the creation of new enforcement mechanisms for investors within the EU.
Ecuagoldmining v Ecuador: Mining, the environment, and international arbitration
Ecuagoldmining’s estimated $20 million investment so far could turn into a $469 million award, should it emerge victorious in an arbitration proceeding.
Lone Star hints intent on out-of-court settlement with Seoul over KEB dispute
US private equity firm Lone Star Funds suggested it was open to “amicable and sensible” out-of-court option to settle the longstanding dispute with the Korean government.
Companies sue states for ­ climate-protection measures
On the basis of the Energy Charter Treaty, companies are suing countries for damages when the latter decide to phase out or limit the use of fossil fuels.
Corporate lawsuits could devastate poor countries grappling with Covid-19
Wealthy corporations may use trade courts to keep public health measures from cutting into their profits.
Trade war: UK government blasted for ’unacceptable’ aspect of US trade negotiations
The UK Department for International Trade has been blasted for its claims that the UK has enough trading clout to assert itself in US trade talks, amid concerns.