On Wednesday 4th March Herbert Smith Freehills hosted an event in partnership with Chatham House (the Royal Institute for International Affairs, London), seeking to explore the opposition to the TTIP and, in particular, the Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) chapter within it. Chaired by HSF partner, Andrew Cannon, the panel represented a broad range of stakeholders from in-house counsel, government officials, academia and civil society, together with HSF partner, Christian Leathley. The panel explored why ISDS arouses such opposition, and whether and how it can be improved to strike a balance between investment protection and the right of governments to regulate. The panel also considered whether the TTIP and its ISDS provisions will be a blue print for future free trade agreements.
The proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) free trade agreement between the EU and the US, two of the world’s largest economies, is intended to remove trade barriers, create wealth and promote investment. On 13 January, the European Commission published the results of its public consultation on the investment protection and investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) chapter in TTIP. Of the 150,000 responses, 97 per cent were negative. Critics have stated that the ISDS proposals would allow corporates to undermine regulation by governments in fields such as environmental protection.
The event was very well attended with around 100 delegates from across a broad spectrum of sectors and backgrounds. Held under the Chatham House rule, the event opened with presentations by each of the five panellists, followed by questions from the floor. Of particular focus was whether the European Commission’s efforts to revise the substantive standards in the draft TTIP consultation text were merely “tinkering”, doing little to address the legitimacy crisis in ISDS. The panel went on to consider whether a broader shift in mind set towards investor protection was required which gave greater significance to states’ other international obligations such as Human Rights and the environment.
Andrew Cannon comments, “this event gave us a unique opportunity to draw together viewpoints from the two sides of this very current debate at the historic venue of Chatham House. The ISDS system continues to come under ever-closer scrutiny and we will continue to follow developments closely.”
A fuller report of the seminar will be posted shortly.
For further information on the TTIP please contact partners Andrew Cannon, Christian Leathley, Matthew Weiniger and Laurence Shore or your usual Herbert Smith Freehills contact.