ISDS

News  |  March 10, 2020

January UNCITRAL session considers appellate mechanism, standing court, and arbitrator and adjudicator issues

Negotiators working on multilateral reform solutions to ISDS reconvened in Vienna in January 2020 to resume their 38th session, holding talks around the possibility of an appellate mechanism, the benefits and challenges of setting up a permanent court on investment issues, and the process around choosing arbitrators and adjudicators.

News  |  March 10, 2020

Coalition of civil society groups, trade unions caution against MIC option at UNCITRAL

A group of 20 civil society organizations and trade unions from the African continent have circulated a letter questioning the EU’s multilateral investment court (MIC) proposal in the context of the UNCITRAL Working Group III talks on multilateral ISDS reform and urging for a set of alternative proposals to advance instead.

UNCTAD’s 2019 High-level IIA Conference: A new momentum for Phase 2 reform

There are several efforts underway at multiple levels—national, bilateral, regional and multilateral—aimed at reforming the IIA regime. These reform efforts are operating in parallel to developments in other areas of international investment governance, some of which have advanced quickly over the past year, including the structured discussions on investment facilitation at the WTO, as well as efforts in the UN context to craft a binding treaty on business and human rights. This year’s UNCTAD High-Level IIA Conference assessed the progress made to date since launching UNCTAD’s 10 Options for Phase 2 of IIA Reform, looking at trends across multiple areas of international investment governance, as well as across world regions. This ITN Insight summarizes the key takeaways from the 2019 event and considerations for Phase 2 going forward.

Business and Human Rights Treaty Negotiation Sees a Light at the End of the Tunnel

The 2016 decision on Argentina’s counterclaim in the Urbaser case provided a frustrating reminder that the international legal regime as it stands is insufficient in holding businesses accountable for human rights violations. Efforts are underway within the UN context to help address this challenge, though how effective the legally binding treaty on business and human rights will be in reconciling the human rights and investment law regimes will depend significantly on its design. It will also depend on how adjudicators treat it relative to other treaties, among other factors. This ITN Insight provides an update on the negotiating state of play for this binding treaty, based on the October 2019 talks in Geneva. It highlights important considerations for negotiators, drawing from lessons learned in international investment law and related areas.

What to Expect in the January 2020 Session of UNCITRAL Working Group III on ISDS Reform

The upcoming meeting of Working Group III of UNCITRAL in January 2020 will be a valuable opportunity to intensify the push for real reform of ISDS. This ITN Insight provides an update from the October 2019 discussions in Vienna, where countries set out a workplan for their upcoming talks on reform solutions, outlining when to discuss which options. The authors review lessons learned to date and look ahead to the topics slated for discussion in January 2020: a stand-alone review or appellate mechanism; a standing MIC; and the selection and appointment of arbitrators and adjudicators. Taking a deep dive into each, they highlight key issues for negotiators to consider.

News  |  December 17, 2019

Nord Stream 2: Pipeline spat with EU evolves into ECT dispute

A long-simmering row over plans for two new pipelines that would carry natural gas from Russia into Germany has advanced quickly in recent months, after gas company Nord Stream 2 submitted a notice of arbitration against the EU under the ECT on September 26, 2019.

News  |  December 17, 2019

U.S. officials raise concerns over proposed MIC in talks with the United Kingdom, documents say

A set of documents purporting to capture the discussions of the United States–United Kingdom Trade and Investment Working Group from 2018 has recently been released into the public domain.

Awards  |  December 17, 2019

Substantial damages awarded to Perenco for FET breach and expropriation; Ecuador also awarded compensation under environmental counterclaim

Perenco Ecuador Limited v. Republic of Ecuador, ICSID Case No. ARB/08/6

Awards  |  December 17, 2019

Dominant and effective nationality objection prevails in CAFTA-DR arbitration

Michael Ballantine and Lisa Ballantine v. The Dominican Republic, PCA Case No. 2016-17

Awards  |  December 17, 2019

All claims dismissed by ICSID tribunal in energy investor’s ECT case against Italy

Belenergia S.A. v. Italian Republic, ICSID Case No. ARB/15/40

Awards  |  December 17, 2019

Colombia is ordered to pay over USD 19 million for frustrating Glencore’s legitimate expectations

Glencore International A.G. and C.I. Prodeco S.A. v. Republic of Colombia, ICSID Case No. ARB/16/6

Awards  |  December 17, 2019

As claimants lacked a protected investment and could not import consent to arbitration via MFN, UNCITRAL tribunal dismisses case against Mauritius on jurisdictional grounds

Professor Christian Doutremepuich and Antoine Doutremepuich v. Republic of Mauritius, PCA Case No. 2018-37

Awards  |  December 17, 2019

Laos prevails in defending its first known treaty-based ISDS cases

Lao Holdings N.V. v. Lao People’s Democratic Republic, ICSID Case No. ARB(AF)/12/6, and Sanum Investments Limited v. Lao People’s Democratic Republic, UNCITRAL, PCA Case No. 2013-13

Awards  |  December 17, 2019

Tribunal finds Pakistan breached FET, expropriation and non-impairment obligations in the context of a mining joint venture with Australian investor Tethyan Copper Company

Tethyan Copper Company Pty Limited v. Islamic Republic of Pakistan, ICSID Case No. ARB/12/1

Awards  |  December 17, 2019

In yet another renewable energy case, Spain held liable for FET breach for frustrating French and Luxembourger investors’ legitimate expectations under the ECT

Cube Infrastructure Fund SICAV and Others v. The Kingdom of Spain, ICSID Case No. ARB/15/20

Awards  |  December 17, 2019

Despite a win for Estonia, ICSID arbitrators continue to resist CJEU’s Achmea judgment

United Utilities (Tallinn) BV and Aktsiaselts Tallinna Vesi v. Republic of Estonia, ICSID Case No. ARB/14/24

Modernizing the Energy Charter Treaty: What about termination?

Negotiations for modernizing the Energy Charter Treaty, a 1994 agreement covering trade, investment and other aspects of the energy sector among its contracting parties, are expected to begin before 2019 draws to a close. Yet given the need identified in myriad other forums to reform ISDS and to ensure trade and investment agreements can support ambitious climate action, why aren’t more officials and commentators discussing the possibility of terminating the ECT entirely, or of reconsidering its survival clause for those parties which choose to withdraw? Tania Voon explores the issue and outlines options going forward.

UNCITRAL Working Group III: Promoting alternatives to investor–state arbitration as ISDS reform

From October 14 to 18, 2019, negotiators will gather in Vienna for the next session of the UNCITRAL Working Group III on ISDS reform, where they will move from considering concerns with the current system to assessing possible solutions. In this ITN Insight, Jane Kelsey discusses various examples of how some countries have tested out alternatives to ISDS, such as state–state arbitration, alternative dispute resolution, domestic legislation and enforcement, and the exhaustion of domestic remedies. For each ISDS alternative, she examines what benefits and challenges arose, and how the lessons learned can help inform the next phase of UNCITRAL deliberations.

ICSID Rule Amendment: An attempt to remedy some of the concerns regarding ISDS identified by UNCITRAL WG III

The process for updating ICSID’s rules has been taking place in parallel to the UNCITRAL Working Group III deliberations on ISDS reform, prompting an important conversation of how these efforts may complement each other. In this new Insight, Rafael Ramos Codeço and Henrique Martins Sachetim examine the ICSID rule amendment process, taking a close look at a few key amendments under consideration and examining the extent to which these might help address some of the ISDS-related concerns that have been identified at UNCITRAL.

Third-Party Funding and the Objectives of Investment Treaties: Friends or foes?

This piece examines recent trends in the use of third-party funding (TPF) in treaty-based ISDS and the implications of TPF for investor conduct, developments in investment law and host state conduct. TPF has been raised in two multilateral processes currently underway: the talks to amend ICSID arbitration rules and to consider multilateral reform of ISDS at UNCITRAL. Given the narrow nature of the TPF discussions in ICSID, the authors make the case for policy-makers to consider full or partial bans of TPF at UNCITRAL.

A Bit of Anti-Bribery: How a corruption prohibition in FIPAs can bring a minimum standard of conduct for Canadian investors abroad

Tackling corruption is a crucial step in meeting the objectives set out in SDG 16 on “Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions” and for achieving the SDGs overall. Canada’s investment treaties could play a valuable role in addressing corruption. The piece draws from examples such as Canada’s Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA) program and examines some of the asymmetries inherent in the current IIA regime. The author analyzes some of the language used in Canada’s more recent treaties, such as CETA and the FIPAs with Moldova and Kosovo, and what lessons can be drawn from these and other agreements.

Spain’s Renewable Energy Saga: Lessons for international investment law and sustainable development

Spain has faced approximately 40 arbitrations since it made the decision in 2010 to rescind or revise various regulatory measures aimed at drawing in greater investments into renewable energy projects. This article examines the awards issued in four of those cases, looking in particular at how the tribunals interpreted and applied the FET standard. The author looks at the potential problems that can emerge when states are unsure of how any given tribunal may interpret FET or other key standards and presents some potential solutions.

News  |  June 27, 2019

UNCITRAL Working Group III: July 15 deadline for submissions on proposed reform solutions

Delegates involved in the UNCITRAL Working Group III process on multilateral ISDS reform have until July 15, 2019 to submit to the UNCITRAL Secretariat their reform proposals and the timing for when such items may be considered in an overarching project schedule. That schedule would help guide the working group under Phase 3 of its mandate, which is devoted to crafting solutions to ISDS-related concerns.

News  |  June 27, 2019

CJEU finds ICS in Canada–EU CETA to be in line with EU law

The CJEU has deemed that the ICS included in the Canada–EU CETA is consistent with EU law, issuing its final opinion on April 30, 2019.

News  |  June 27, 2019

Mexican Senate ratifies USMCA

The Mexican Senate approved the implementing legislation for the United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement (USMCA) on June 19, 2019, by an overwhelming majority of 114 votes in favour, with less than a dozen against or abstaining.

Claims against Albania dismissed by ICSID tribunal as the Anglo-Adriatic Group did not have a protected investment

ANGLO-ADRIATIC GROUP LIMITED V. REPUBLIC OF ALBANIA, ICSID CASE NO. ARB/17/6

ICSID tribunal finds Spain breached ECT obligations by failing to provide a reasonable rate of return

RREEF INFRASTRUCTURE (G.P.) LIMITED AND RREEF PAN-EUROPEAN INFRASTRUCTURE TWO LUX S.A R.L. V. KINGDOM OF SPAIN, ICSID CASE NO. ARB/13/30

ICSID tribunal upholds Panama’s plea of illegality in the making of an investment in a tourism project located in an Indigenous area

ÁLVAREZ Y MARÍN CORPORACIÓN S.A., BARTUS VAN NOORDENNE, CORNELIS WILLEM VAN NOORDENNE, ESTUDIOS TRIBUTARIOS AP S.A. AND STICHTING ADMINISTRATIEKANTOOR ANBADI V. REPUBLIC OF PANAMA, ICSID CASE NO. ARB/15/14

India found in breach of BIT with Germany by UNCITRAL tribunal in respect of agreement for lease of electromagnetic spectrum

DEUTSCHE TELEKOM AG V. THE REPUBLIC OF INDIA, PCA CASE NO. 2014-10

SCC tribunal finds Poland liable for expropriation over divestment order to Luxembourg investor

PL HOLDINGS S.À.R.L. V. REPUBLIC OF POLAND (SCC CASE NO. V2014/163)

Investors’ legitimate expectation claims against Italy dismissed due to the absence of specific commitments

BLUSUN S.A., JEAN-PIERRE LECORCIER AND MICHAEL STEIN V. ITALIAN REPUBLIC, ICSID CASE NO. ARB/14/3

Politically Motivated Conduct in Investment Treaty Arbitration

Investment treaty arbitration is often expected to focus on technical issues. In practice, however, domestic political discussions and processes can have a major impact on investment disputes. The authors map out the variety of state conduct characterized by tribunals as politically motivated or influenced. They also examine the different ways in which arbitral tribunals have responded to host state conduct resulting from domestic political considerations.

News  |  April 23, 2019

Australia and Indonesia sign economic partnership agreement, including ISDS mechanism

Australia and Indonesia have now signed their Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (IA-CEPA), bringing to a close a negotiating process that began in November 2010. The two countries signed the agreement on March 4, 2019. The IA-CEPA also includes an investment chapter and four related annexes, which cover an arbitrators’ code of conduct; expropriation and compensation; foreign investment policy; and public debt.

Phase 2 of the UNCITRAL ISDS Review: Why “other matters” really matter

UNCITRAL conferred a broad mandate on Working Group III to consider possible reform of ISDS. In Phase 1 governments identified and considered concerns about ISDS. Phase 2, where they consider whether reform is desirable in light of those concerns, is well advanced. The next meeting in New York in April 2019 is expected to conclude this phase and decide how to pursue the final phase, in which governments will develop any relevant solutions to recommend to the Commission. This note addresses three issues at the heart of the legitimacy crisis confronting the international investment regime that should inform the remainder of Phase 2.

Corporate Social Responsibility Clauses in Investment Treaties

CSR refers to rules and practices companies follow voluntarily to limit the negative social, environmental and other externalities caused by their activities. There is a trend to incorporate CSR standards in investment treaties. Could CSR clauses be useful in consolidating enforceable investor obligations and serving as a basis for state counterclaims?

News  |  December 21, 2018

Judges of the International Court of Justice decide to no longer participate as arbitrators in ISDS cases

In a speech to the United Nations General Assembly on October 25, 2018, Judge Abdulqawi Yusuf, President of the International Court of Justice (ICJ), mentioned that the court has decided to restrict the practice of allowing members to serve in arbitral tribunals.

International Challenges in Investment Arbitration

Investment arbitration is heavily relied upon around the globe and has to cope with the demands of increasingly complex proceedings. At the same time, it has come under close public scrutiny in the midst of heated political debate.

ITN  |  October 18, 2018

Burlington v. Ecuador

Burlington Resources Inc. v. Republic of Ecuador, ICSID Case No. ARB/08/5 (Published in 2018 in International Investment Law and Sustainable Development: Key cases from the 2010s and on this website on October 18, 2018. Read more here.) Decisions and Award are available at https://www.italaw.com/cases/181 Keywords Taxation, investor obligations, environmental counterclaim Key Dates Request for Arbitration: April […]

Reforming Investment Treaties: Does treaty design matter?

The backlash against investment arbitration has led to a wave of investment law reform. Approaches include creating obligations relating to investor conduct, clarifying existing disciplines, safeguarding policy space and revising ISDS mechanisms. This piece investigates the link between investment treaty design and the risk of arbitration claims.

International Investment Law and Sustainable Development: Key cases from the 2010s

IISD is releasing an e-book summarizing and analyzing 10 treaty-based investor–state arbitration cases decided in the 2010s. The cases are relevant to a range of issues relating to sustainable development, including environmental protection, socio-environmental impact assessment, renewable energy, taxation, corruption and human rights.

News  |  October 17, 2018

NAFTA 2.0 finalized, announced as USMCA: Mexico, United States agree to limit ISDS clause; Canada to pull out of ISDS after a three-year window

On September 30, 2018, U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer and Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland announced that the two countries had reached an agreement, alongside Mexico, on a modernized trade deal.

News  |  October 17, 2018

Over 300 U.S. state legislators strongly support USTR’s efforts to remove ISDS from NAFTA

In a September 12, 2018 letter, 312 legislators—including Democrats as well as Republicans—from all 50 U.S. states wrote that they “strongly support” U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer’s efforts to remove ISDS from NAFTA.

Awards  |  October 17, 2018

The Czech Republic fends off another claim in relation to their renewable energy scheme

ANTARIS SOLAR GMBH AND DR. MICHAEL GÖDE V. CZECH REPUBLIC, PCA CASE NO. 2014-01

The 2018 Draft Dutch Model BIT: A critical assessment

In May 2018, the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs published its new draft model bilateral investment treaty (BIT), in hopes to foster rethinking of existing and future Dutch BITs. Will this revised model achieve this goal, or does it fall short of the promised policy reset?

The Case Against Third-Party Funding in Investment Arbitration

Third-party litigation funding (TPF) is a rapidly expanding industry composed of speculative investors who invest in a legal claim for control of the case and a contingency in the recovery. In the wake of the global financial crisis and the demand by speculative finance for new investment vehicles, TPF has discovered the regime of bilateral investment treaties (BITs) with investor–state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanisms.

News  |  July 30, 2018

Update on EU trade and investment negotiations: Japan, Vietnam, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico

On July 17, 2018, EC President Jean-Claude Juncker and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe signed the Japan–European Union (EU) Economic Partnership Agreement (JEEPA).

News  |  July 30, 2018

UNCITRAL Working Group III continues debate on ISDS concerns and multilateral reform

Working Group III of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) continued discussions on possible reform of investor–state dispute settlement (ISDS) at its 35th session, held April 23–27, 2018 in New York.

The Rise of Investor–State Arbitration: Politics, law, and unintended consequences

Why did governments create a special legal regime in which foreign investors can bring cases directly against states?

IIA Issues Note: Recent Developments in the International Investment Regime

The note highlights that the number of new IIAs concluded in 2017 was the lowest since 1983, and that, for the first time, the number of effective treaty terminations outpaced the number of new IIAs.

Withdrawal of Consent to Investor–State Arbitration and Termination of Investment Treaties

It will take time for dialogues on ISDS reform to produce results. In the interim, rather than continue to assume the unjustified risks associated with the flawed ISDS system, states could consider two near-term options. This piece looks at the advantages and disadvantages of each.