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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.


Ottawa files lawsuit in dispute over broken northern Manitoba rail line
Ottawa filed a lawsuit against the owners of a broken rail line in northern Manitoba hours after the company said it would file a complaint against the federal government under the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Cabinet approves Joint Interpretative Declaration between India and Colombia
The Union Cabinet has given its approval for signing the Joint Interpretative Declaration between India and Colombia regarding the existing Agreement for the Promotion and Protection of Investments.
Pakistan gets stay on $800m Karkey penalty
Pakistan has successfully gotten a stay order from the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) over the execution of an $800 million award to Karkey Karadeniz Elektrik Uretim (Karkey).
Labour’s TPPA-11 spin omits inconvenient details
"[New Zealand’s] new government has begun to spin its achievements, while omitting some inconvenient details", says law professor Jane Kelsey.
When climate leaders protect dirty investments
Much of the problem can be traced to bilateral investment treaties and investment rules embedded within broader trade pacts.
Thailand faces arbitration over decision to shut only active gold mine
Chatree mine’s operator, Australia’s Kingsgate Consolidated said that it would commence arbitration under the Thailand-Australia Free Trade Agreement
Threats to NAFTA cast doubt over Mexico’s oil tenders, investment
Energy firms worry the end of NAFTA could eliminate the so-called Investor State Dispute Settlement.
NZ ambassadors pushing for ISDS change
The Government is enlisting its ambassadors in a last-minute bid to win changes to the TPP’s controversial investment clauses, Trade and Export Growth Minister David Parker says.
Going south? EU and Australia/New Zealand deal
The Commission is currently gearing up to begin negotiating separate deals with Australia and New Zealand.
NZ to ban foreign buyers of existing homes
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced plans to effectively ban foreign buyers of existing residential property but says the prohibition doesn’t put New Zealand at odds with the slimmed down version of the Trans-Pacific Partnership deal.
Top US trade official opposition to ISDS in NAFTA undermines case for ISDS in TPP-11
US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said that the US wants to opt out of ISDS in NAFTA, because of the risk and costs of US governments being sued by foreign corporations, and despite corporate lobby groups pushing to retain ISDS.
A court to fix all investor-state rows?
Hit by disputes with Vodafone and Cairn Energy, India welcomes plan for a World Court but flags legal, practical challenges.
Notice of intent to submit claim to arbitration under Korea-United States free trade agreement chapter 11
First ISDS case against South Korea under Korea-US FTA.
Responsible investment provisions in international investment treaties: where next?
How international investment treaties could promote more responsible investment and argues that, while some innovative practices are emerging, there is still much to do.
African Petroleum seeks arbitration over Gambia oil dispute
African Petroleum Corp has begun arbitration proceedings over Gambia’s decision to strip the company of its rights to explore for oil in two offshore areas.
5 hidden costs of the RCEP to people and planet
The RCEP has hidden costs for people’s lives
US proposes gutting Nafta legal-dispute tribunals
US Nafta negotiators are proposing to essentially do away with the independent tribunals that oversee the trading and investment relationship.
BoI working on its own template for BIT
The government of Pakistan would not be made liable for private investor disputes. Alternative dispute resolution mediation would be made compulsory, while foreign arbitrators would be decided in advance through consensus.
Invenergy says to take USD-700m Polish wind claim to intl arbitration
US clean energy company Invenergy LLC has notified the Polish authorities it plans to turn to international arbitration over its wind investments in the country, if no settlement is reached within six months.
RCEP: Robbing communities to extract profit
RCEP will give multinational corporations unprecedented rights