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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.


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.
Silent expansion
Many countries, particularly in the global south, are in the process of joining the Energy Charter Treaty despite the sweeping powers it grants to foreign investors.
Brazil India investment cooperation and facilitation treaty (2020)
This is Brazil’s 10th and India’s 4th bilateral investment agreement since both nations had adopted their Model Bilateral Investment Treaty.
Investment treaty claims in pandemic times: Potential claims and defenses
States around the world have taken a variety of measures seeking to stem the spread of COVID-19. It is likely that some foreign investors may seek relief and/or compensation for any losses resulting from State measures.
We need to talk about valuation in ISDS
Investors are receiving monetary damages that they would not be entitled to outside of ISDS, on the basis of an unjustified and highly reductive understanding of value.
Epidemic sovereignty? Contesting investment treaty claims arising from coronavirus measures
Allegedly arbitrary or disproportionate measures, albeit in the public interest, provide regular grist for the mill of investment treaty arbitration.
Covid-19: Why India doesn’t need to worry about investor-State dispute settlement claims
In order to halt the spread of the coronavirus pandemic (Covid-19) and to boost the public health care system and preparedness, India has taken several regulatory steps.
Miner South32 files request for arbitration in Colombia royalty dispute
Mining company South32 has filed a request for arbitration at the World Bank over a dispute with Colombia concerning royalty payments from its majority-owned Cerro Matoso ferronickel mine:
Could COVID-19 emergency measures give rise to investment claims? First reflections from Italy
Emergency measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus and protect the economy could lead to claims under bilateral investment treaties.
Guatemalan water protectors persist, despite mining company threats
The hard work of protecting water and land from the long-term harms associated with gold and silver mining takes place daily on the frontlines of tenacious struggles throughout Latin America and around the world.
Hungary held liable for expropriating the investment of a British investor and ordered to pay EUR 7 million in compensation for damages
Magyar and Inicia filed for arbitration against Hungary claiming expropriation of their leasehold rights to the land, following an agricultural sector reform to promote family farms over farming companies.
Risky business: Uniper’s potential investor-state dispute against the Dutch coal ban
While policies aiming to phase out coal are necessary to tackle climate change, they may give rise to legal claims from companies whose investments are adversely affected by the low-carbon energy transition.
2019 annual results
Gabriel has provided notice to Romania of a dispute with regard to Romania’s application to UNESCO in relation to Roşia Montană and has reserved its right to commence a further arbitration.
The Energy Charter Treaty threatens the European Green Deal, NGOs denounce
Civil society activists and scientific experts denounce the unsustainable practice of investment disputes under the Energy Charter Treaty.
Zimbabwe offers land as compensation for 800 seized farms
The dispossessed farmers covered in the land compensation scheme are citizens of countries that have bilateral investment agreements with Zimbabwe.
Romania wins €2.36bn lawsuit against spirits producer
Romania has won the second lawsuit filed against it by brothers Ioan and Viorel Micula, who accused Romania of allowing the development of a black market for the sale of alcohol.
’Corporate courts’ and post-Brexit trade deals
An alliance of civil society groups has delivered nearly 70,000 signatures calling on the UK government to commit to keeping controversial ‘corporate courts’ out of post-Brexit trade deals.
Regional MPs call for greater transparency of RCEP negotiations
As ministers of the member countries of the RCEP meet for final negotiations over the trade agreement this week, regional lawmakers today expressed concern about the lack of parliamentary and public oversight of the deal, as well as its potential human rights impacts.
Cerro Verde to open ICSID case against Peru
Cerro Verde, a partnership between Freeport McMoran and Buenaventura, is to bring a case against Peru related to a taxation dispute at the ICSID under a US-Peru trade agreement.