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Risky business: Uniper’s potential investor-state dispute against the Dutch coal ban

In pursuit of the ambitious long-term goals of the Paris Agreement to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius and preferably to 1.5 degrees from pre-industrial times, various European countries have decided to phase out coal. While such policies are necessary to tackle climate change – after all, coal is the dirtiest fossil fuel – they may give rise to legal claims from companies whose investments are adversely affected by the low-carbon energy transition. This scenario started to play out in recent months with the German utility Uniper publicly pondering bringing a claim – reported to amount to €850 million – against the Netherlands due to a new Dutch law banning the generation of coal-fired power after 2030. As a consequence of the law, which was enacted in December 2019, Uniper’s new power plant on the Maasvlakte (near Rotterdam) will have to close by 2030. The potential dispute raises a complex web of legal questions related to international investment and climate change law, EU law and corporate law.

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Beyond “Good Neighborliness” in the ICJ 1 October 2018 Judgment in Bolivia v. Chile: Do Human Rights and Sustainable Development Obligate Creating Negotiated Access for Landlocked Bolivia to the Pacific Ocean?

On 1 October 2018, the International Court of Justice issued its Judgment on the Merits in Obligation to Negotiate Access to the Pacific Ocean (Bolivia v. Chile), finding, by 12 votes to 3, that Chile "did not undertake a legal obligation to negotiate sovereign access to the Pacific Ocean" for Bolivia and rejecting all other submissions of Bolivia.  While…

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What on Earth is Happening to Space Law?

In 2015 and 2017, respectively, the United States of America and Luxembourg enacted bills granting property rights on resources collected in outer space. The potential beneficiaries of these laws are hi-tech companies investing in the exploration and exploitation of space resources. Even though robotized mining of precious metals, rare earths and other raw materials on the Moon or on…

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Is Ukraine a “Stranger” to the EU? OPAL Case

In their recent contribution to the Global Trust Working Paper Series, Professor Eyal Benvenisti and Dr. Sivan Shlomo Agon raise one conspicuous, though rarely asked, question within a broader topic of state sovereignty in a globalised world. They wonder how sovereign decision-making powers can be restrained in the face of interests of “strangers”, i.e. third countries,…

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Philippines v China: first thoughts on the Award in the South China Seas Case

Any international lawyer looking at a news site in the last few hours will have seen that the final award has been handed down at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Philippines v China dispute brought under the UN Convention on the Law Sea Annex VII procedure. The arbitral tribunal’s decision is simply historic. While Philippines…

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