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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.


Quand Philip Morris empêche le Togo de lutter contre le tabagisme
Comment la simple menace d’un arbitrage international peut suffire à dissuader un pays de s’opposer aux intérêts d’une multinationale, c’est le "chilling effect".
T.N. seeks to stay Nissan arbitration
The Tamil Nadu government moved the Madras High Court for an interim stay on carmaker Nissan Motor from proceeding with international arbitration over the alleged non-payment of incentives being claimed by it from the State.
Vietnam, EU seek to accelerate FTA signing
The FTA is expected to be completed and start in 2018 or 2019, while the ISDS will be discussed and agreed in later years.
Japan and EU to agree on EPA tariffs, put off investment deal
Japan and the European Union intend to bring an economic partnership agreement into effect in 2019 as planned by finalizing tariff-related measures first and setting aside those on investment.
ConocoPhillips and the Republic of Ecuador agree to settlement of ICSID award
Under the terms of the agreement, ConocoPhillips will recover a total of $337 million from Ecuador.
Bear Creek wins C$30.4m award in international arbitration against Peru
The arbitrators agreed with the company that Peru had breached its obligations to the company under the Canada-Peru Free Trade Agreement when it expropriated the company’s Santa Ana silver project, in 2011.
Nissan sues India over outstanding dues; seeks over $770 million
Japanese automaker Nissan Motor has begun international arbitration against India to seek more than $770 million in a dispute over unpaid state incentives.
NZ ’could not’ apply water tax - diplomat
Government plans to put a royalty on exports of bottled water could be in jeopardy after a top trade negotiator warned MPs it would breach trade deals.
The Multilateral Investment Court locking in ISDS
Ten reasons why the EU’s proposal for a Multilateral Investment Court doesn’t fix a fundamentally flawed system.
Is “moonlighting” a problem? The role of ICJ judges in ISDS
At least 7 current ICJ judges and 13 former ICJ judges have worked—or are currently working—as arbitrators (or annulment committee members) in investor–state dispute settlement cases during their ICJ terms.
Crystallex International, Venezuela settle US$1.2B mine dispute
Crystallex International Corp. and Venezuela agreed to settle a US$1.2 billion dispute over the 2011 nationalization of a gold deposit in the South American nation.
Samsung Engineering files ISDS suit over Saudi power plant
Samsung Engineering has filed an investor-state dispute settlement suit against Saudi Arabia over changes made to its power plant construction contracts for Yanbu Industrial City.
Richterbund statement on multilateral investment court system
English translation of the German Association of Judges opinion on the proposal for the Multilateral Investment Court system (MIC).
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.