By Damon Vis-Dunbar
13 November 2008
The Canadian government has been sent two letters from outdoor tour companies signaling intent to sue for alleged breaches of the North American Free Trade Agreement. Both outfitters complain that their businesses suffered when the Province of Quebec changed the rules for distributing fishing licenses.
The two businesses led American tourists on fishing trips in the rivers of Quebec. As part of the service they offered, fishing licenses would obtained by lottery, and then transferred to clients. However, in an effort to curb fishing activity, the Province of Quebec adjusted the lottery system; as of 2006, licenses could not be obtained by one individual and transferred to another.
The companies complain that they invested in their businesses on the basis that licenses could be transferred to clients, and thus are owed compensation for what amounts to expropriation of their investments.
William Jay Greiner and Malbaie River Outfitters filed their notice of intent to submit a NAFTA claim in September, while David Bishop followed up with his letter just under a month later. They are both represented by the same New York-based lawyer.
The Canadian government has received four so-called Notices of Intent since July 2008. These letters must be delivered before an arbitration claim can be submitted under NAFTA’s chapter on investment. Nonetheless, not all letters of intent lead to arbitration.
Notice of intent to submit a claim to arbitration pursuant to Chapter Eleven of the North American Free Trade Agreement, William Jay Greiner and Malbaie River Outfitters v. Government of Canada, available at: http://www.international.gc.ca/trade-agreements-accords-commerciaux/disp-diff/william_archive.aspx?lang=en
Notice of intent to submit a claim to arbitration pursuant to Chapter Eleven of the North American Free Trade Agreement, David Bishop v. Government of Canada, available at: