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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.


Canada trade deal ruling could further erode Government’s majority
The Irish Government could come under further pressure in the autumn with a Supreme Court judgment on a legal challenge to the EU-Canada trade deal expected soon.
A protest is taking place in Salisbury city centre today
Protestors will be gathering to march to the Rockhopper Exploration headquarters. The company is suing the Italian government for £236 million due to its refusal to allow oil drilling off the Adriatic Coast.
The danger of corporate courts to green transition
Global Justice Stirling is holding a rally against corporate courts in front of Buchanan Galleries in Glasgow.
Canadian mining companies keep targeting developing countries in dispute settlements
Canadian mining companies continue to sue developing countries for environmental policies that affect their profitability and often win huge payouts from these poorer countries, a new report states.
Talos Energy pauses Mexico oil arbitration bid amid high-level talks
US-based oil producer Talos Energy has temporarily suspended pursuit of an arbitration claim against Mexico amid high-level talks over one of the country’s flagship offshore projects.
Europe edging closer to withdrawal from Energy Charter Treaty
More European Union countries have shown signs of impatience with the ongoing reform of the Energy Charter Treaty, which critics say impedes efforts to phase out fossil fuels, according to leaked diplomatic cables.
Russia’s Sberbank to appeal against Ukraine’s move to seize its assets
Russia’s top lender Sberbank initiated investment arbitration proceedings against Ukraine after its parliament approved a presidential decree allowing for the forced seizure of Sberbank-owned assets in the country.
Thai gold mine blamed for sickening local villagers is set to reopen
Citing the free-trade agreement between Australia and Thailand, Kingsgate, announced in November 2017 that it had filed a suit against Thailand at an international arbitration tribunal.
Key human rights tests for UK free trade agreements
Without adequate rules and the right business incentives to protect workers and communities, trade deals can contribute to a ‘race to the bottom’.
How treaties protecting fossil fuel investors could jeopardize global efforts to save the climate – and cost countries billions
We estimate that countries would face up to $340 billion in legal and financial risks for canceling fossil fuel projects that are subject to treaties with ISDS clauses.
Serving of notice of dispute
Amendments to the mining law in Slovenia which prohibit the use of any hydraulic stimulation in mining exploitation constitute further breaches of the protections established by the BIT and the ECT.
Honduran government repeals ZEDEs law amid warnings of of free trade agreement rights and arbitration
The ZEDEs are free from import and export taxes, but could set up their own internal forms of government, as well as courts, security forces, schools and even social security systems.
Business group blasts Mexico’s new lithium law as violating trade deal
A Mexican law that nationalizes its future lithium industry violates its trade obligations under the CPTPP, the International Chamber of Commerce said.
ISDS landscape in Latin America for 2022
ISDS in Latin America is here to stay. While disputes in sectors such as pensions and telecoms are becoming more common in the region, we expect to see a ripening of COVID-related, tech and energy disputes.
T-MEC, an obstacle to lithium nationalization
State exclusivity in the lithium value chain can violate the treaty between Mexico, the United States and Canada (T-MEC).
Ousted Pakistani leader as challenging investment treaties that give corporations excessive power
Mexico and many other countries are facing anti-democratic corporate lawsuits like the case that pushed Khan to withdraw from international investment agreements.
Imran Khan’s Reko Diq Deal is malicious for Balochistan
Several aspects of Reko Diq deal with Barrick Gold are still concealed and Balochistan is not aware of the details of the agreement, say civil society members and politicians from the region.
Climate change expert report warns that ISDS can block climate action
For the first time, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has warned that climate action is being jeopardised by trade agreements which give global corporations the right to sue governments.
The conflict between traditional miners in Marmato and Canadian transnational mining companies: Another ISDS dispute over natural resources in Colombia
In Marmato, the foreign investment promotion and protection system facilitated the transformation of the traditional small-scale mining regime into a transnational large-scale mining regime.