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Article

Dispute Resolution under USMCA

Modifications to NAFTA And the Potential Implications

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 4 2021
Keywords international trade law, North American Free Trade Agreement, United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, dispute resolution mechanisms, investor-state dispute settlements, state-to-state dispute settlements, investment disputes, investor protections, asymmetrical fork-in-the-road clause, panel blocking, enforcement actions, trade agreements
Authors Jared Thomas
AbstractAuthor's information

    In this article the author discusses the differences in the dispute resolution mechanisms between the North American Free Trade Agreement and the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement. The author notes that while all three dispute resolution mechanisms from NAFTA are present in USMCA, two of the mechanisms have been extensively modified. The author is critical of the Trump Administration’s insistence on eliminating NAFTA’s Chapter 11 provisions on investor-state dispute settlements, leading to a severely weakened ISDS mechanism in USMCA. State-to-state dispute settlement (Chapter 20 under NAFTA) was also significantly modified. The third dispute resolution mechanism, a binational panel process that was covered in Chapter 19 of NAFTA, survived with only minor changes as insisted upon by Canada. As the most extensive changes were made to investor-state dispute settlements and state-to-state dispute settlements, the author analyzes these two dispute resolution mechanisms in detail. The author dissects the changes made to these dispute resolution mechanisms and provides insight into the rationale of the countries involved that led to the changes. The author concludes that with Canada’s refusal to sign on to Annex 14-D and a drastically diluted ISDS mechanism governing ISDs between the United States and Mexico, the most likely outcome under USMCA is that there will be a dramatic increase in Chapter 31 claims when the United States is involved and a heavy reliance on the CPTPP for claims between Mexico and Canada.


Jared Thomas
Jared Thomas is a graduate of the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law.
Article

Access_open Hardship and Force Majeure as Grounds for Adaptation and Renegotiation of Investment Contracts

What Is the Extent of the Powers of Arbitral Tribunals?

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 2 2021
Keywords contract adaptation, hardship, force majeure, investment contracts, arbitration
Authors Agata Zwolankiewicz
AbstractAuthor's information

    The change of circumstances impacting the performance of the contracts has been a widely commented issue. However, there seems to be a gap in legal jurisprudence with regard to resorting to such a remedy in the investment contracts setting, especially from the procedural perspective. It has not been finally settled whether arbitral tribunals are empowered to adapt investment contracts should circumstances change and, if they were, what the grounds for such a remedy would be. In this article, the author presents the current debates regarding this issue, potential grounds for application of such a measure and several proposals which would facilitate resolution of this procedural uncertainty.


Agata Zwolankiewicz
Agata Zwolankiewicz is an advocate trainee, graduated from the University of Silesia in Katowice (M.A. in law), and the University of Ottawa (LL.M. with concentration in international trade and foreign investment).
Article

Investment Arbitration and the Public Interest

Journal Hungarian Yearbook of International Law and European Law, Issue 1 2020
Keywords BIT, ILA, ISDS, unclean hands, regulatory chill
Authors Gábor Hajdu
AbstractAuthor's information

    The study focuses on analyzing conflicts between (international) investment arbitration and the public interest, dividing its contents into five substantive sections. First, it summarizes the common characteristics of international investment arbitration (distinguishing procedural and substantive elements), followed by its most pressing issues (including frequent criticism such as lack of consistency, asymmetrical proceedings, regulatory chill, etc.). Afterwards, selected investment arbitration cases are examined, grouped based on which areas of public interest they affected (environmental protection, employee rights, public health). These cases all hold relevance and offer different insights into the workings of investment arbitration, which serve to illuminate the complex interplay between foreign investor and public interest. The cases also provide the foundation for the study’s conclusions, where key observations are made on the central subjects.


Gábor Hajdu
Gábor Hajdu: PhD student, University of Szeged.
Article

The CETA Investment Court and EU External Autonomy

Did Opinion 1/17 Broaden the EU’s Room for Maneuver in External Relations?

Journal Hungarian Yearbook of International Law and European Law, Issue 1 2020
Keywords EU investment treaties, investment arbitration, EU external relations, EU treaty-making capacity, level of protection of public policy interests
Authors Wolfgang Weiss
AbstractAuthor's information

    The present contribution analyzes Opinion 1/17 of the CJEU on CETA, which, in a surprisingly uncritical view of conceivable conflicts between the competences of the CETA Investment Tribunal on the one hand and those of the CJEU on the other hand, failed to raise any objections. First reactions welcomed this opinion as an extension of the EU’s room for maneuver in investment protection. The investment court system under CETA, however, is only compatible with EU law to a certain extent. This was made clear by the Court in the text of the opinion, and the restrictions identified are likely to confine the leeway for EU external contractual relations. Owing to their fundamental importance, these restrictions, inferred by the CJEU from the autonomy of the Union legal order form the core of this contribution. In what follows, the new emphasis in the CETA Opinion on the external autonomy of Union law will be analyzed first (Section 2). Subsequently, the considerations of the CJEU regarding the delimitation of its competences from those of the CETA Tribunal will be critically examined. The rather superficial analysis of the CJEU in the CETA Opinion stands in stark contrast to its approach in earlier decisions as it misjudges problems, only seemingly providing for a clear delimitation of competences (Section 3). This is followed by an exploration of the last part of the CJEU’s autonomy analysis, in which the CJEU tries to respond to the criticism of regulatory chill (Section 4). Here, by referring to the unimpeded operation of EU institutions in accordance with the EU constitutional framework, the CJEU identifies the new restrictions for investment protection mechanisms just mentioned. With this, the CJEU takes back the earlier comprehensive affirmation of the CETA Tribunal’s jurisdiction with regard to calling into question the level of protection of public interests determined by the EU legislative, which raises numerous questions about its concrete significance, consequence, and scope of application.


Wolfgang Weiss
Wolfgang Weiss: professor of law, German University of Administrative Sciences, Speyer.
Article

The CETA Opinion of the CJEU

Redefining the Contours of the Autonomy of the EU Legal Order

Journal Hungarian Yearbook of International Law and European Law, Issue 1 2020
Keywords CETA, settlement of investment disputes, autonomy of EU law, Achmea, multilateral investment court
Authors Tamás Szabados
AbstractAuthor's information

    In its Opinion 1/17, the CJEU confirmed that the investor-state dispute settlement mechanism of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA or the Agreement) entered into between Canada and the EU is compatible with EU law. In the view of the CJEU, the CETA does not have an adverse effect on the autonomy of the EU legal order; it does not violate the principle of equality, the effectiveness of EU law and the right of access to an independent tribunal. Some of the findings of the Opinion are, however, controversial. In particular, it is questionable whether the autonomy of EU law is indeed unaffected by the Agreement, because it seems that in certain situations an interpretation of EU law is hardly avoidable for the CETA Tribunal and the Appellate Tribunal to make. With its Opinion, the CJEU not only lends support to similar trade and investment protection agreements, but it also paves the way for the participation of the EU in creating a multilateral investment court as long as the limits set by the CJEU are observed.


Tamás Szabados
Tamás Szabados: associate professor of law, ELTE Law School, Budapest.

Tamás Szabados
Senior lecturer, ELTE Law School, Budapest.
Article

Access_open The New Dutch Model Investment Agreement

On the Road to Sustainability or Keeping up Appearances?

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 4 2019
Keywords Dutch model BIT, foreign direct investment, bilateral investment treaties, investor-to-state dispute settlement, sustainable development goals
Authors Alessandra Arcuri and Bart-Jaap Verbeek
AbstractAuthor's information

    In 2019, the Dutch government presented a New Model Investment Agreement that seeks to contribute to the sustainability and inclusivity of future Dutch trade and investment policy. This article offers a critical analysis of the most relevant parts of the revised model text in order to appraise to what extent it could promote sustainability and inclusivity. It starts by providing an overview of the Dutch BIT (Bilateral Investment Treaty) programme, where the role of the Netherlands as a favourite conduit country for global FDI is highlighted. In the article, we identify the reasons why the Netherlands became a preferred jurisdiction for foreign investors and the negative implications for governments and their policy space to advance sustainable development. The 2019 model text is expressly set out to achieve a fairer system and to protect ‘sustainable investment in the interest of development’. While displaying a welcome engagement with key values of sustainable development, this article identifies a number of weaknesses of the 2019 model text. Some of the most criticised substantive and procedural provisions are being reproduced in the model text, including the reiteration of investors’ legitimate expectation as an enforceable right, the inclusion of an umbrella clause, and the unaltered broad coverage of investments. Most notably, the model text continues to marginalise the interests of investment-affected communities and stakeholders, while bestowing exclusive rights and privileges on foreign investors. The article concludes by hinting at possible reforms to better align existing and future Dutch investment treaties with the sustainable development goals.


Alessandra Arcuri
Alessandra Arcuri is Professor at Erasmus School of Law and Erasmus Initiative Dynamics of Inclusive Prosperity, Erasmus University Rotterdam.

Bart-Jaap Verbeek
Bart-Jaap Verbeek is Researcher at Stichting Onderzoek Multinationale Ondernemingen (SOMO) and PhD Candidate Political Science at the Radboud University.
Article

TTIP, business as usual?

Europees handelsbeleid en zijn democratische legitimiteit

Journal Res Publica, Issue 2 2018
Keywords Democratic legitimacy, input legitimacy, throughput legitimacy, European Union, trade policy, TTIP
Authors Joke Matthieu
AbstractAuthor's information

    The Transatlantic Trade and Investment partnership (TTIP) can be considered a game changer among trade agreements. TTIP not only aims to shape tomorrow’s trade policy, but has also had a huge influence on the democratic legitimacy of the EU. Based on recent literature on democratic legitimacy in the EU, this paper studies how the TTIP negotiations score in terms of input and throughput legitimacy. Our results show that these negotiations have had their fair share of problems, such as the disproportionally large influence of corporations and a lack of transparency and accountability. However, these legitimacy problems occurred mainly in the first months of the negotiation process. Due to large scale protests and critiques from civil society, measures were taken to boost the legitimacy of the process.


Joke Matthieu
Joke Matthieu studeerde politieke wetenschappen aan de Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) waar ze in 2016 afstudeerde met grootste onderscheiding. Voor haar masterproef onderzocht ze de democratische legitimiteit van de TTIP-onderhandelingen en daarvoor kreeg ze de prijs voor de beste masterproef van de faculteit Economische en Sociale wetenschappen. Ze zette haar academische carrière verder aan de VUB, waar ze momenteel werkt als onderwijsassistent en doctoraatsonderzoeker. Haar voornaamste onderzoeksinteresses zijn democratische innovatie, politieke socialisatie en burgerschap. Ze bereidt momenteel een doctoraat voor over de effecten van deliberatie op het burgerschap van jongeren.
Article

The New World Order in Dispute Resolution

Brexit and the Trump Presidency

Journal International Journal of Online Dispute Resolution, Issue 1 2017
Keywords dispute resolution, Brexit, Donald Trump, technology, trade
Authors Ijeoma Ononogbu
AbstractAuthor's information

    The Brexit vote and Donald J Trump as the leader of the Free world in 2016 brought in a new world order. Two hugely important and unexpected events of 2016. Both have called into question the stability of established international commercial dispute resolution schemes in the United Kingdom and the United States in our tech savvy world. As the impact of both events unfolds, adaptations made to the existing dispute resolution schemes will be negotiated and the role that technology can play in the new approaches to international commercial dispute resolution will be determined. Consequently, there has been the changing face of Western politics after the Cold War, based on traditional group identity giving way to an uncertain landscape in which the political class struggle to define. The impact and disruption of technology in politics has given everyone a voice regardless of social class. Consequently, the EU under Mr Juncker and the UK Prime Minister seem to have mutual respect in their negotiations, given that the UK has made a number of notable concessions in order to move the trade discussions forward.
    Under Donald Trump presidency, the state of North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) seems binary with the probing question will NAFTA survive or not. NAFTA is currently undergoing transformation, a process that incorporates Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS).


Ijeoma Ononogbu
Ijeoma Ononogbu is a London-based Solicitor, International Dispute Resolution, Director, Dispute Resolver Ltd and Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators.
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