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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.


Chevron wins $96 million for 1990s Ecuador oil dispute
Chevron Corp., the second-largest U.S. energy company, said it won a $96 million judgment against Ecuador in an international arbitration case stemming from a 1990s oil-export dispute with the Latin American nation.
World-first plain packaging for tobacco products becomes law in Australia
Legislation requiring tobacco products to be in plain packaging was passed by Australia’s House of Representatives last night. This is the first such measure in the world to become law.
International arbitration plays key role in gas deal, Egypt’s future
In violation of international agreements, natural gas has not flowed for months across the Sinai desert through the pipeline that connects Israel and Jordan to Egypt. Since former President Hosni Mubarak’s fall in February, political uncertainty and intermittent attacks have halted its delivery.
US firm eyes trade case to force Argentina payment
Azurix Corp plans to ask the Obama administration for help in recovering more than $230 million it says it is owned by the government of Argentina. It would be the first time a US company has used the "Section 301" trade law to pressure a foreign government to pay an award decided by an arbitrator in an investment dispute.
Philip Morris v. Uruguay on cigarette branding: Will investor-state arbitration send restrictions on tobacco marketing up in smoke?
Philip Morris asserts that fair and equitable treatment includes a right to a “stable and predictable regulatory framework” as well as rights under treaties in addition to customary international law.
Twenty Turkish firms file suit against Turkmenistan
The government of Turkmenistan faces legal action from twenty Turkish construction firms over broken contracts costing them more than $1 billion in losses, a spokesman representing the companies said on Wednesday.
India rejects clause on litigation
Despite a demand by the European Union (EU), India is unlikely to allow a clause in a proposed trade pact with the bloc that permits an overseas investor to sue a host country at an international dispute settlement agency.
First a gold rush, then the lawyers
Pacific Rim is suing the Salvadoran government in an international investment court, one of scores of cases in recent years in which frustrated oil, gas and mining investors, using provisions of trade agreements, have sought to recoup losses from mostly developing countries.
Tobacco giant suing Australian govt ’a warning’ for NZ
Tobacco giant Philip Morris suing the Australian government for introducing plain packaging laws for tobacco should send shockwaves through this country as it seeks a free trade deal involving the US, says an academic critic of the deal.
Canadian mining firm threatens legal action against Peru
Canada’s Bear Creek Mining Corp. is threatening a legal challenge against Peru after its mining rights were revoked in a move that raises the risk for other resource companies doing business in the mineral-blessed South American country.
Julia Gillard stands firm on cigarette plain packaging
Prime Minister Julia Gillard says she won’t be intimidated by big tobacco after Philip Morris launched legal action to try to force the government to back down on introducing plain packaging for cigarettes.
Ecuador prepares for new hearing in Occidental Petroleum case
The office of Ecuador’s Attorney General will represent Ecuador in Washington at a June 30 hearing in the arbitration case filed against the Andean country by US oil company Occidental Petroleum Corp.
Philip Morris takes Uruguay to international court because of tobacco-ban policy
One of the world’s biggest tobacco companies is launching a claim against Uruguay for considering the country’s legislation commercially damaging to the company. Philip Morris corporation has filed a claim at the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), a World Bank branch.
Egypt probes illegal transactions
UAE companies that have invested in Egypt may stand to lose millions of dollars as the state runs an investigation into alleged corruption by former government officials who sold land and assets to investors below market prices, lawyers say.
Damac threatens international arbitration over Egyptian conviction
Damac Properties is to fight the conviction of its chairman on Egyptian corruption charges by filing a case with the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), the company announced yesterday.
$130 million NAFTA payout sets troubling precedent
Why should a provincial government be punished for doing the right thing?
Law suit prospects seen in TPP deal
A top United States trade official says New Zealand is ready to accept investor-state disputes in the nine-country TransPacific Partnership trade agreement (TPP).
US claims victory over Canada in lumber dispute
The United States claimed victory against Canada Friday in a trade dispute over Ottawa’s alleged subsidies for lumber exports to the United States.
Big tobacco takes fight over plain cigarette packs to free trade agreement
Big tobacco is hoping a new multilateral free trade agreement will enable it to sue the Federal Government if Australia introduces plain packaging for cigarettes in mid-2012 as planned.
Renco mining group claims Peru violated US-Peru FTA
The Renco Group has served the Republic of Peru with a "Notice of Intent to Commence an International Arbitration Proceeding" under the US-Peru FTA for the Peruvian government’s alleged failure to remediate soils poisoned by Renco’s mining operations there.