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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.


There’s a hidden cost in Trump’s new trade agreement with Canada and Mexico
Investment treaties with ISDS provisions make it hard to tax foreign firms and worsen human rights and labor practices.
Belarus - India BIT (2018)
As released by the Goverrnment of India
EU’s investment court may be bump in China’s Belt and Road plan
The EU has proposed to reform the investor-state-dispute-settlement system, a move that could further complicate negotiations with China over a bilateral investment agreement, as well as their dialogue on the Belt and Road Initiative’s implementation in Europe.
Want to sue Venezuela for millions? These firms can help, for a price
Investment funds backing a slew of big-dollar corporate lawsuits has boomed over the past decade, fueled by favorable court rulings and investors seeking juicy returns.
The fossil fuel era is coming to an end, but the lawsuits are just beginning
Westmoreland Coal is suing Canada because it did not receive a transition payment following Alberta’s coal phaseout plan. For the province, coal mining companies have no role to play in the energy transition.
Today we work to build something else than free trade, says Javier Echaide of Attac Argentina
Interview with Javier Echaide, lawyer and member of Attac Argentina
Trade agreements and the land: Investment agreements and their potential impacts on land governance
While promising economic growth, large-scale land investment deals have caused increased inequality, widespread displacement of people, and destruction of natural resources.
The legal clause which could allow Adani to sue Australia
Global corporations should not have special legal rights to undermine the policies of democratically elected governments.
Westwater files international arbitration request against Republic of Turkey
Westwater Resources, an energy materials development company, announced the filing of a request for arbitration against the Republic of Turkey for the taking of its Temrezli and Şefaatli uranium projects in June 2018.
A summary of public concerns on investment treaties and investor-state dispute settlement
International investment agreements, specifically bilateral investment treaties and the investment chapters in free trade agreements, have come under the spotlight for what are seen as skewed provisions that grant excessive rights to foreign investors.
BITs of Bangladesh: Are they national interest friendly?
Bangladesh has about 30 BITs of which those with international arbitration provisions tilt to protect corporate interests more than the national interest of Bangladesh as reflected in the Saipem, Chevron, and Niko arbitrations.
Land reform blow: Zimbabwe must pay foreign investor US$195m; World Bank unit dismisses Harare’s bid to annul award
The ICSID has rejected Zimbabwe’s application to annul an US$195 million award to a German family whose property was expropriated under the controversial land reform programme.
Venezuela pays miner $425 million in move to safeguard Citgo
Venezuela made an partial payment of a settlement designed to resolve a $1.2 billion arbitration award to a bankrupt Canadian gold miner that’s laying claim to the assets of the parent of refiner Citgo Holding Inc. if it’s not paid in full.
Abritration Court awards South American Silver $28 million for Malku Khota in Bolivia
The Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration has awarded South American Silver $18.7 million for amounts invested and another $9 million in interest for its Malku Khota concession, which the Bolivian government revoked in 2012.
US coal firm launches NAFTA suit against Alberta over coal phase-out
A US coal miner is launching a NAFTA suit against Alberta over its policy to phase out coal in the electricity system by 2030.
PHA4: Neoliberal policies and corporate takeover are the cause of the world health crisis
Multinational corporations are suing countries for using generic versions of life saving medicines.
Arbitration against the Kingdom of Spain: final award
The net award for Athena Investments amounts to approx. EUR 11M.
Govt mulls delinking investment from FTAs, seeks legal opinion
Certain ISDS (Investor-state dispute settlement) cases against India led it to review its stand on investment treaties.
Slovakia does not have to compensate the Union private health insurer
The German Supreme Court dismissed the original arbitration decision against Slovakia concerning the ban on health-insurance companies’ profits.
Special economic zones: engines of development or sites of exploitation?
Many SEZs have been associated with compressions of land, labour and human rights. Investment treaties protect investments against adverse regulatory change, including in SEZs. To date, investors have brought at least 20 arbitrations to challenge diverse aspects of SEZ regimes.