Investor-State Arbitration Tribunals

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COVID-19 and ‘War’ Clauses in Investment Treaties: A Breach through the Wall of State Sovereignty?

In the fog of COVID-19, lawyers are identifying ways to hold States accountable for the outbreak, indecision and/or actions, whether or not violating due diligence obligations. States have adopted different measures, with varying success and degree of intrusiveness: from lockdowns over export restrictions and requisitions, to stimulus legislation and even infection tracking. As with previous crises, in particular the Argentinian economic crisis, it is highly probable that investors will file claims under international investment agreements. While many of those will fail, fair and equitable treatment (FET) is the most obvious weapon in the arsenal of the investor, as its shotgun approach has the highest rate of success. It prescribes a balance between the State’s prerogative to take emergency measures (e.g. in times of economic hardship: Hydro Energy v Spain) and the investor’s rights against unreasonable and discriminatory conduct (Merrill & Ring Forestry LP v Canada, Award, §233). However, the State is defended well; it has multiple layers of walls to protect its sovereignty. Next to security clauses in…

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A New Hope for the Yukos Shareholders – PCA Awards Revived by the Hague Court of Appeal

Four years ago, the Hague district court gave an unexpected twist to the dispute between Russia and shareholders of the former oil company Yukos, setting aside the 50 billion USD awards issued by an investment arbitration tribunal under the auspices of the PCA on grounds of Russia’s breach of the expropriation clause of the…

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UNCITRAL and ISDS Reform: Plausible Folk Theories

  As observers of the UNCITRAL process, we watch the debates with great interest, writing about the emergence of different camps, giving perspectives on how the process fits within broader geopolitical developments, and offering potential models for moving forward. One thing that we are often struck by is how some of the field’s underlying narratives are…

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UNCITRAL and ISDS Reforms: What Makes Something Fly?

  When conducting an international negotiation, the Chair has to ask him or herself: what makes something fly? This question really has two parts. The first concerns the negotiations themselves. Once you’ve taken off and achieved a certain cruising speed and altitude, how do you keep the momentum going? Will some flight paths be smoother than…

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The Scorecard of the USMCA Protocol of Amendment

    The U.S. House of Representatives approved December 19 the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) by an overwhelming margin of 385-41. The Senate is expected to do the same in mid-January. As everyone knows by now, USMCA is a revision and replacement for the 25-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), a regional trade agreement…

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