Investor-State Arbitration Tribunals

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Polluter Doesn’t Pay: The Rockhopper v Italy Award

Last August, an ICSID tribunal handed down its much-anticipated ECT-based award in the dispute between Rockhopper, a British oil and gas company, and the Italian Republic. Rockhopper had been denied a licence to exploit an offshore oilfield, due to legislation banning oil production concessions within a certain distance from the coastline. The ban was adopted as a result of intense popular campaigning from regional and local authorities, and environmental, religious and civic associations, who had successfully requested a referendum on the matter. According to the award, which was only published in November, Rockhopper had met all the conditions set by Italian law to be granted the licence, so the denial amounted to an unlawful expropriation. It therefore awarded €185 million in compensation (over €240 million with interest). Given these ingredients (democratic politics, climate change legislation, fossil fuel corporate power), it is not surprising that the dispute has generated huge interest, with the press reporting on the ‘outrage’ sparked by Rockhopper’s claim, and on the widespread criticism immediately met by the award.

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UNCITRAL and ISDS Reform: What to Expect When You’re Expecting

From September 5 – 16, the delegates of UNCITRAL Working Group III were back in Vienna to continue discussing ISDS reform. While it was possible for registered delegates to watch the proceedings online, it was only possible to make interventions in person. This approach, which we understand to be a general UN approach, decisively shifted the Working Group’s…

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UNCITRAL and ISDS Reform (Hybrid): Islands of Persuasion

Since UNCITRAL Working Group III opened its most recent session on 14 February, many delegates began their interventions by wishing each other a Happy Valentine’s Day. As they did this, we recalled our blog after the first virtual session, in which we wrote that moving online was “like entering into a long distance relationship that remains fueled…

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UNCITRAL and ISDS Reform (Hybrid): Season 5 – Watching the Grass Grow

Watching UNCITRAL Working Group III over the years has been a bit like viewing a long-running television series. The beginning of the process was exciting as we met a compelling cast of characters and the plot line began to take shape. Sometimes there was high drama: Which actors would support which kinds of reforms? Which ones would oppose…

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Ecuador returns to the ICSID Convention: A brief assessment of its decade-long international investment law ‘exit strategy’

On July 6, 2009, Ecuador notified (here) the World Bank of its denunciation of the Convention on the Settlement of Investment Disputes between States and Nationals of Other States (ICSID Convention). This denunciation formed part of a strategy of resistance to the international investment regime. Around that time, this South American country also began to terminate its…

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