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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.


Devas seizes $6.8 million worth of AAI property in Canada
The shareholders had sought the right to seize all sum or moveable property of India and/or AAI being held by the International Air Transport Association.
Balochistan MPAs ‘satisfied’ over Reko Diq pact
Pakistan federal govt officials tell lawmakers talks under way that may pave way for TCC’s Barrack to resume project.
Chile’s Codelco requests second arbitration against Ecuador over copper project
Chile’s state-controlled Codelco requested a second international arbitration process with Ecuador and its National Mining Company (Enami EP) over the Llurimagua copper project.
Enagás redoubles its fight with the Peruvian Government to recover 400 million invested in a gas pipeline
Enagás considers that the future dividends of this project amount to 186 million dollars that would be added to the almost 400 million that it hopes to recover from the other arbitration.
They concern you more than you know: On the perils and potential of international investment agreements for the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights and COVID-19 discussions at the World Trade Organization
Talks on a possible COVID-19-related TRIPS decision aimed at scaling up vaccine and therapeutics production and equitable distribution continue but investment agreements are absent from them.
Energy Charter Treaty: stalled reform fuels EU fears for climate
European governments are losing patience in talks to modernise the controversial Energy Charter Treaty (ECT), according to leaked documents.
Croatia to pay €40m to US investment company to settle 20-year-old dispute
The Croatian government okayed the out-of-court settlement between Croatia and the American Colgate McCallum investment management company, which will see Croatia pay €40m to the company.
Investment governance in Africa to support climate resilience and decarbonization
African nations should not be expected to take the lead in addressing a climate emergency they did not create. The priority for Africa is to receive support and investment to build resilience and adapt to climate impacts.
EU in battle with its own states as it threatens countries with court over bilateral deals
The EU Commission has launched infringement proceedings against seven member states over their failure to end intra-bilateral investments agreements.
Bahrain loses case against Iran banks
Bahrain has been ordered by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague to pay over €200 million in damages plus costs to two Iranian banks for the unlawful moves against their operations.
The World Bank can’t be trusted to stand up to big fossil fuel companies
Extractive companies are the most frequent users of the investor-state dispute settlement system (ISDS), making up 29 percent of all ICSID claims in fiscal year 2021.
India’s BITs recalibration is paying off
India’s steps to better protect itself hasn’t curbed the appetite of foreign investors, suggesting that the perceived correlation between FDI and robust investor protection is overstated.
Keystone pipeline developers seek $15 billion from US for cancellation
Developers of Keystone XL are seeking to recoup more than $15 billion in damages connected to President Joe Biden’s decision to yank a permit for the border-crossing oil pipeline even after construction began.
Angola ratifies the ICSID Convention: good news for inbound foreign investment
On 1 September 2021, Angola’s National Assembly ratified the International Convention on the Settlement of Investment Disputes between States and Nationals of Other States (ICSID).
Landmark ruling reveals misuse of Energy Charter Treaty
The Belgian Appeal Court delivered a landmark ruling in what Kazakhstan’s legal representatives described as "one of the biggest frauds in the history of international arbitration."
Governments risk ’trillions’ in fossil fuel climate litigation
Governments which enact climate legislation risk being sued for trillions of dollars by fossil fuel companies seeking compensation for lost revenue and stranded assets.
Campaign win: Australia cuts ties with Energy Charter Treaty (ECT)
In a significant step forward in the campaign against Investor-State Dispute Settlements (ISDS), Australia has announced its withdrawal from its signatory status to the Energy Charter Treaty.
Secretive court system poses threat to Paris climate deal, says whistleblower
Treaty allows energy corporations to sue governments for billions over policies that could hurt their profits.
Cairn Energy moves to settle $1 billion tax dispute with India
The settlement is under the Taxation Laws (Amendment) Act, introduced this year to put an end to 17 tax disputes India has with multinational companies like Cairn and Vodafone Plc.
Missing from the climate talks: Corporate powers to sue governments over extractives policies
Allowing oil, mining, and gas companies to continue to file expensive lawsuits over environmental regulations could undermine whatever agreements might be reached in the COP26 in Glasgow.