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.


Russians warn of arbitration against South Africa
RUSSIAN attorneys have warned they will institute international arbitration proceedings against South Africa for failing to protect their client Transasia Mineral’s investment after the company was allegedly defrauded of R458 million by a local businessman.
French airport investors make good on earlier threat to bring treaty-based claims against Chile in relation to reduced air traffic during the COVID pandemic
Two French airport companies, Aeroports de Paris (ADP) and Vinci Airports, have initiated treaty-based arbitration proceedings against Chile, invoking the Chile-France bilateral investment treaty (BIT).
Ethiopia wins major International Court case against Israeli firm ICL
The Hague based Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) passed its final judgment on Friday rejecting the Israel based mining company’s, Israel Chemical Limited (ICL) compensation claims filed against the government of Ethiopia.
Winshear seeks C$124,781,945 in damages from Tanzania
Winshear Gold Corp. has filed a case at ICSID against Tanzania for the expropriation of the company’s retention licenses, claiming the country has breached its obligations under the Tanzania-Canada BIT.
The limits of sovereignty
Terminating 23 BITs is an important step for Pakistan, but if relationships with the WTO, the IMF and the World Bank remain, economic efficiency will continue to be prioritised over social justice and the rights of citizens.
Discovery legal challenge escalates Poland-US media row
Draft law, regulator pose risks to Discovery’s unit in Poland but Polish watchdog says treaty exempts broadcast investments.
Risks for Mexico in the renegotiation of its FTA with the European Union
To end neoliberalism and defend energy resources, Mexico must step up and avoid at all costs the inclusion of supranational arbitration mechanisms in a renegotiated FTA with the European Union.
South’s concerns over ISDS reform process need to be addressed
The broad mandate given by UNCITRAL focuses on a limited set of procedural issues that fails to address the substantive concerns over the crisis of legitimacy confronting the international investment regime, and ISDS more specifically.
The Irish Spanish Solar sues Spain in the ICSID for the cut in premiums to renewables
Spanish Solar demands compensation from the Spanish Government for having cut the premiums for the use of energy once the investments have been made.
Deep-sea salvage firm uses NAFTA to fight Mexican environmental rules
A lawsuit filed against the Mexican government for denying a permit for seabed mining has put a spotlight on the lack of international rules for such practices.
Protecting human and environmental rights in international investment agreements
Human rights experts are particularly concerned about the asymmetric nature of the system and a lack of investors’ human rights obligations. Together with high ISDS costs and arbitral awards, they undermine states’ ability to realise economic, social, cultural and environmental rights.
XL pipeline absurd $15 billion NAFTA ISDS claim
TC Energy expects to get 15 times more money, coming from taxpayers’ pockets, than the asset losses it experienced from the revocation of a permit, that was already denied twice.
How ‘blood mineral’ traders in Rwanda are helping fund Congo rebels – and undermining global supply chains
New evidence from a UN report and a high-profile investor arbitration case is casting a spotlight on Rwanda’s role in sophisticated smuggling networks that extract gold and coltan from Congolese conflict zones and funnel the strategically important minerals illicitly into global supply chains.
India to scrap retrospective tax law in olive branch to global firms
India proposed scrapping a controversial law that taxed companies retrospectively, a move that could potentially settle its multi-billion-dollar tax cases with Cairn Energy and Vodafone.
Pakistan to terminate 23 bilateral investment treaties
Decision aimed at avoiding international arbitration with foreign firms .
Vicat takes dispute with Egyptian state to international arbitration
France-based Vicat raised a case against the Egyptian government with the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes in late June 2021. It concerns its cement production business.
Experts seek AfCFTA dispute resolution mechanism for non-state parties
Ahead of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) implementation in Nigeria, the Nigerian Institute of Chartered Arbitrators and other stakeholders are seeking dispute resolution mechanisms that will address concerns of non-state entities.
Corporate courts vs the environment
Corporate courts were invented to protect the West’s control of the world against decolonisation. They are now undermining attempts to halt climate change.
Ex-Yukos unit wins new $5 billion court judgement against Russia
The Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled that Russia illegally expropriated loans provided by Yukos Capital Sarl to its former parent company.
White farmer enlists US federal court in enforcing US$277m arbitral award against Zimbabwe
Bernhard von Pezold and his family have enlisted the help of a US federal court in Washington DC in enforcing a US$277 million arbitral award against Zimbabwe.