bilaterals.org logo
bilaterals.org logo

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.


Coal generator uses investment treaty to fight Netherlands coal phaseout
Uniper is using a controversial investor dispute system to claim up to €1 billion compensation for being forced to close a coal power station early.
Cashing in on the pandemic: How lawyers are preparing to sue states over COVID-19 measures
As governments take action to fight the COVID-19 pandemic and prevent economic collapse, they could face multi-million dollar lawsuits.
Exclusive: Countries to face a ‘wave’ of corporate lawsuits challenging emergency COVID-19 measures
Research claims top law firms are preparing to ‘cash in’ on the pandemic by helping corporations sue states for measures that have impaired profits.
Russia appeals decision of Hague Court of Appeal on Yukos
On February 18, The Hague Court of Appeal reinstated an order of the Permanent Court of Arbitration, which obliged Russia to pay more than $50 bln to the companies associated with former Yukos shareholders in 2014.
The unknown climate-killer deal we’ll have to tackle next
The Energy Charter Treaty takes an axe to climate action.
Ortiz Construcciones y Proyectos S.A. v. Algeria’s arbitration
Spanish contractor Ortiz Construcciones y Proyectos S.A. lost an investment treaty arbitration against Algeria brought before ICSID.
The termination of bilateral investment treaties in the EU – one agreement to end them all?
On 5 May 2020, 23 Member States of the EU entered into an Agreement for the Termination of Bilateral Investment Treaties between the Member States of the European Union.
Modernisation of the Energy Charter Treaty
A global tragedy at a high cost for taxpayers.
Call for ISDS moratorium during COVID-19 crisis and response
We call on the world community for an immediate moratorium on all arbitration claims by private corporations against governments using international investment treaties.
Africa must not let disputes with foreign investors undermine its Covid-19 response
There is an imminent threat of claims arising from emergency measures, so countries should review how investor-state disputes are handled.
EU Member States sign an agreement for the termination of intra-EU bilateral investment treaties
23 EU Member States signed an agreement for the termination of intra-EU bilateral investment treaties.
Armenia ‘under pressure’ from UK and US over mining dispute, says EU report
An internal EU report claims that the UK government has pressured the Armenian government in a two-year standoff between protesters, an international mining company and the authorities.
EU plans to reform Energy Charter Treaty falling short, activists say
An updated European Commission proposal to reform the Energy Charter Treaty is falling short of what’s needed to reinstate governments’ “right to regulate” in areas like climate change, activists say.
UN tribunal rules against Canada’s Edgewater in legal battle with Spain
An arbitration tribunal ruled against Canadian company Edgewater Exploration in its long-standing legal battle with Spain related to the Corcoesto gold project in the northwestern region of Galicia.
Eni and Naturgy’s Damietta gas plant deal with Egypt falls through
In the meantime, Naturgy said it would go back to pursuing a legal claim to $2 billion in compensation its joint venture with ENI was awarded in the case by the World Bank’s ICSID in 2018.
Corporations prepare to sue over action to save lives as pandemic reveals trade flaws
Global companies are positioning themselves to use little-known rules in trade agreements to claim millions of dollars in compensation for restrictions imposed during the pandemic.
Despite controversy, the Energy Charter Treaty is silently being pushed into Africa
Joining the Energy Charter Treaty could cost developing countries money that is urgently needed to fight the COVID-19 pandemic and economic crisis.
Pandemic profiteers: how foreign investors could make billions from crisis measures
Governments’ emergency actions in the wake of COVID-19 could prompt a wave of arbitration lawsuits for billions of dollars by multinational corporations and investment lawyers.
Peru warned of potential ICSID claims over covid-19 measures
Peruvian officials have warned that a proposed emergency measure suspending the collection of toll fees on the country’s road network in response to the outbreak of covid-19 could result in multiple ICSID claims.
Protecting against investor–state claims amidst COVID-19: A call to action for governments
Governments are facing an imminent threat of investor–state arbitration as they take difficult decisions to support public health systems in a time of severe economic stress.