MERCOSUR AND THE EUROPEAN UNION AGREE HISTORIC AND AMBITIOUS TRADE AGREEMENT

On June 28, 2019, the European Union and the Common Market of the South (“Mercosur”), announced they had reached a trade deal after twenty years of negotiations (the “EU-Mercosur Agreement”).  While the agreement in principle is still subject to ratification by the national parliaments of the member states of both blocs, the European Parliament and the European Union Council – a process that could take between one and two years – it lays the ground for an “ambitious and comprehensive trade agreement”,[1] said to be the largest the European Union has ever concluded.

The historic deal creates a market covering a population of 800 million people that represents nearly a fourth of the world’s GDP.  In addition to removing tariffs, the new agreement aims to enhance the economic and political integration of both regions by creating employment and developing a more transparent and predictable regulatory framework.

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CJEU CONFIRMS THAT CETA DISPUTE RESOLUTION PROVISION IS COMPATIBLE WITH EU LAW

On 30 April 2019, the Court of Justice of the European Union (“CJEU“) confirmed that the mechanism for the settlement of disputes between investors and states set out in the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between the EU and Canada (“CETA“) was compatible with EU law. This confirms the Attorney General’s opinion discussed here.

The CJEU’s opinion will lend support to the EU’s effort to develop the tribunals established under trade agreements like CETA into a permanent and multilateral Investment Court System (“ICS“) in future.

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NEW INSTITUTIONAL APPOINTMENTS FOR HSF ARBITRATION PRACTITIONERS

Head of Herbert Smith Freehills’ Global Arbitration Practice, Paula Hodges QC, has officially begun her Presidency of the LCIA Court. Lauded by the legal directories as “brilliant” and the “most complete arbitration practitioner in London”, Paula has over 25 years’ experience advising clients in international disputes, particularly in the energy, telecommunications and technology sectors. Paula has been Vice President of the Court for several years and also a LCIA Board member for a decade.  Paula has taken over the role from outgoing President Judith Gill QC in May 2019 and will continue in practice at Herbert Smith Freehills whilst undertaking her new LCIA responsibilities.

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APPLICATION FOR EXTENSION OF TIME TO BRING SECTION 67 CHALLENGE WHICH WAS 959 DAYS LATE REFUSED BY ENGLISH COURT

The English High Court’s decision in State A v Party B [2019] EWHC 799 (Comm), handed down in January 2019 but only recently published, concerned the court’s dismissal of an application to extend the time for bringing a jurisdictional challenge under section 67 of the Arbitration Act 1996 in circumstances where the challenge was 959 days late (available here).

The decision found that where the delay is lengthy and the application for an extension is based on fresh evidence, an extension will only be justified by fresh evidence that is “transformational” or “seismic“. The decision illustrates the importance that the English court places on the timeliness of challenges to awards and the high threshold that must be met in order to obtain an extension.

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FINAL DUTCH MODEL BIT PUBLISHED: POTENTIAL FOR CLAIMS AGAINST INVESTORS AND LINK BETWEEN GENDER EQUALITY AND INVESTMENT

The Dutch Government has recently published the final version of its model Bilateral Investment Treaty (the Model BIT). The key changes since the May 2018 Draft Model BIT (discussed in our blog post here) are addressed below.

The Model BIT includes some practical guidance for investors as to how the requirement of “substantive business interests” in a Contracting Party may be fulfilled. Among the innovative provisions, it includes a potential liability on investors in their home State for significant damage, personal injury or loss of life caused in the host State and a commitment to promote equal opportunities and participation for women and men in the economy.

The Model BIT reflects a change in emphasis in modern international investment agreements. The investor protections remain but there is an undoubted rebalancing of the operation of those provisions in the context of the treaty as a whole to address what is perceived by many to be a historic investor-bias in treaty drafting. Further, the Model BIT seeks to implement policy aims through a number of provisions which require recognition of, or aspirational behaviour towards, the achievement of certain development goals by the Contracting Parties.

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FIVE AT HERBERT SMITH FREEHILLS RANKED IN INAUGURAL TOP 200 UK INTERNATIONAL ARBITRATION POWERLIST

Herbert Smith Freehills’ London-based international arbitration partners Paula Hodges QC, Craig Tevendale, Nicholas Peacock, Andrew Cannon and Chris Parker have all been named amongst 200 leading lawyers in Legal 500’s inaugural UK International Arbitration Powerlist.

The list, which is based on extensive research by Legal 500, highlights the UK’s leading arbitration practitioners working in law firms and at the Bar. The research is based upon submissions, client referees, interviews and feedback to refine the top arbitrators globally.

The firm’s international arbitration team in the UK has been described by Legal 500 as a ‘strong team of dedicated lawyers who master complex subject matters… the advice is pragmatic, measured and fit for purpose’.

UK Head of Arbitration Craig Tevendale commented: “We are all thrilled to feature in the inaugural “Powerlist” amongst esteemed colleagues from within the UK arbitration community, a great many of whom we recently hosted at our London Arbitration Community Dinner. It is fantastic to have all five partners recognised in this way”.

Third party intervention in investment arbitration: Tribunal admits NGO submissions in Gabriel Resources’ claim against Romania concerning mining project

The Tribunal in Gabriel Resources v Romania recently issued an order (the Order) in response to an application (the Application) made by three Romanian NGOs, as non-disputing parties, for participation and an amicus submission (the Submission) in an ICSID arbitration under the Canada-Romania BIT (the BIT). Gabriel Resources’ allegations of breach of the BIT arise in relation to a proposed open pit mining development in Roşia Montană, Romania (the Project) which was not implemented.

The Tribunal granted the Application in part, admitting only certain sections of the Submission to the extent that they referred to factual issues within the specific knowledge of the Applicants and in relation to the interests which the Applicants claim to be protected.  However, the Tribunal denied admission to arguments on the law, as well as references to or reliance on testimonies which could not be tested by cross-examination. The Tribunal also rejected the NGOs’ request to attend and participate in the oral hearing.

The Tribunal’s analysis of the conditions relevant to an application by non-disputing parties – and its approach of considering each section of the Submission in relation to those conditions (rather than the Submission as a whole) – provides a significant contribution to jurisprudence in this area. The application in Gabriel Resources is also consistent with a general increase in such third party interventions, particularly in disputes which touch on issues of public interest, such as environmental protection, public health measures, labour standards, cultural rights and/or human rights.  Such a trend is likely to continue with civil society becoming more active in this context.

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Advocate General finds that CETA’s “Investment Court System” is compatible with EU law

One of the Advocates General to the Court of Justice of the European Union, Advocate General Bot, has issued an opinion confirming that the mechanism for the settlement of disputes between investors and states provided for in the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement  between the EU and Canada (the CETA) is compatible with European Union law.

We discuss the content of the Advocate General’s opinion on our new blog piece, published on our Public International Law blog here.

For further information please contact Andrew Cannon, Partner, Hannah Ambrose, Senior Associate, Vanessa Naish, Professional Support Consultant, Rebecca Warder, Professional Support Lawyer, or your usual Herbert Smith Freehills contact.

Andrew Cannon
Andrew Cannon
Partner
+44 20 7466 2852
Hannah Ambrose
Hannah Ambrose
Senior Associate
+44 20 7466 7585
Vanessa Naish
Vanessa Naish
Professional Support Consultant
+44 20 7466 2112
Rebecca Warder
Rebecca Warder
Professional Support Lawyer
+44 20 7466 3418