bilaterals.org logo
bilaterals.org logo

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.


Select committee urged to stop the spread of ISDS under CPTPP
A range of labour, health and environmental organisations are calling for a clause to be inserted into the CPTPP Amendment Bill that would prevent future governments from extending investor-state dispute settlement to countries seeking to join the agreement.
BBVA starts arbitrations procedures with the ICSID on the exit from its Bolivian Pension Fund Administrator
BBVA has requested arbitration under the investment agreement between Spain and Bolivia with respect to the transfer of BBVA Previsión AFP (Pension Fund Administrator) to the Government of Bolivia.
Costs and benefits of investment treaties
As states look back over decades of treaty practice, the expected benefits have not clearly materialized, whereas the costs have been unexpectedly high.
Secrecy shrouds cost to Australian taxpayer in controversial trade dispute
US energy company is seeking $350m in compensation in so-called ISDS case over gas turbines in Pilbara.
Conflicts between Latin American countries and transnational corporations: The challenges of the region in the face of asymmetrical investment treaties
Facing multimillion dollar claims, many Latin American states have become critical of investment arbitration. A group of researchers building a database of legal and policy tools aims to change this.
Expropriation without compensation? Ask the British.
Zimbabwe is still seeking to have annulled two Awards issued by a tribunal of the ICSID. The disputes concern the government’s expropriation of timber plantations which were first established by Rhodes’ BSAC.
One hundred years of expropriation without compensation
On 29 July 1918, the British judiciary proffered the Empire’s most expressly and egregiously racist justification for the land dispossession of indigenous peoples. Today, an ICSID tribunal continues that mission. No matter which way Zimbabwean’s turn at the polls, they’re still paying for their invasion and occupation by Cecil Rhodes’ British South Africa company...
Asia’s evolving ‘free’ trade deal may not benefit workers
Labor unions and workers’ rights advocates fear that the secretive RCEP agreement will further erode workers’ rights in the Asian region, while strengthening the hands of investors who may be able to sue governments for changing laws such as setting minimum wages, that would erode their profitability.
Swiss foreign investor claims it suffered US$264 million in damages caused by South Korean government
This is the fourth ISDS dispute this year in which the South Korean government is embroiled.
India’s model bilateral investment treaty: Are we too risk averse?
India’s Model BIT is "pro-state with limited rights to foreign investors" according to the US thinktank Brookings
Dar faces legal suit at international tribunals over tax, investment policies
Civil society organisations are pushing for a review of the BIT between Tanzania and The Netherlands which they say does not serve the best interests of Tanzania.
Community groups say no to the TPP-11 at Senate inquiry
“AFTINET will present evidence today to a Senate inquiry that the TPP-11 increases corporate rights at the expense of people’s rights and the environment and should not be implemented,” AFTINET Convener Dr Patricia Ranald said today.
RCEP agreement puts future of Thai people at risk
The Thai government is about to enter a trade deal that could seriously harm the reform agenda and deprive communities of the ability to make decisions for fear of violating investors’ rights.
Schindler seeks $264 mn ISD suit vs Korean gov over Hyundai Elevator
Schindler filed a notice of intent for arbitration on July 11. Under the ISD procedure, if the issue is not resolved through settlement in 90 days, the investor can take the case to the international tribunal.
US trade deals mean justice for some, not justice for all
Those with the means to become international wheeler-dealers can access ISDS. The rest of us have to rely on public courts—the same ones that investors say are “inadequate” to handle their needs. That’s not fair, and that’s not right.
Rwanda faces suit over cancelled mining concession
Rwanda faces an international arbitration suit filed by two American firms contesting the cancellation of their mining concession.
Investor vs state interests debate heats up
Ahead of the 23rd round of negotiations for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership there has been growing concern over its investment chapters that will let foreign investors’ benefits overrride public interests.
Elliott starts ISD suit against Korea, claiming $770m in damage
US-based hedge fund Elliott Associates has officially filed for an investor-state dispute settlement against the South Korean government seeking $770 million in compensation for the merger between two Samsung Group affiliates.