TTIP: 12th Round of Negotiations concludes, investment protection remains high on the agenda; plus newly published CETA text includes EU’s Investment Court System proposal

The 12th Round of Negotiation of the TTIP, which concluded last week in Brussels, provided the first opportunity for the negotiating parties to discuss the EU's proposed Investment Chapter. The EU's formal proposal for the Investment Chapter, which is discussed here, includes a two-tiered Investment Court System (ICS) for resolution of investor-state disputes.

As noted in our blog post here, it is no by means a foregone conclusion that the US will depart from the form of investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) envisaged in its 2012 Model BIT and included in the recently concluded Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (the TPP).  The EU's Chief Negotiator has confirmed that the negotiators are "working on the basis of textual proposals from both sides", and identifying areas of convergence.  However, the method of resolving investor-state disputes has become such a controversial issue in Europe – including in the European Parliament – that the EU may find it difficult to retreat too far from its ICS proposal should the US decide to oppose it. 

Whilst the EU and US are likely to find some degree of common ground in terms of the desire on both sides to protect the right to regulate, ISDS may not be the only area of divergence.  For example, in the US Model BIT, it is confirmed that the concept of fair and equitable treatment does not require treatment in addition to or beyond that which is required by the customary international law minimum standard.  This language is replicated in the Investment Chapter of the TPP. In contrast, the EU's proposed text avoids linking the concept of Fair and Equitable Treatment to the customary international law minimum standard by limiting fair and equitable treatment to a closed list of types of behaviour.

The EU and US have stated that they aim to conclude negotiations by the end of 2016 and have planned two further negotiating rounds before the summer break.  Whilst the 12th Round has formally concluded, negotiators will reportedly remain in contact to progress matters with a view to producing a draft text by July in which only the most sensitive issues are subject to further negotiation.

In a further significant development published today, the EU and Canada have released the revised text of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) – which was concluded in August 2014 – following the completion of a legal review process which has resulted in modification of the text of the Investment Chapter.  The revised CETA Investment Chapter will be continued in more detail in a later blog post. The most notable amendment is the removal of the previous text providing for investor-state arbitration. This has been replaced with the inclusion of a two-tier ICS, replicating the EU's TTIP proposal, and following the recent conclusion of similar provisions in the EU-Vietnam FTA.  The apparent acceptance by Canada of this new form of investor-state dispute resolution may assist the EU in its negotiations with the US on this point.

For more information, please contact Larry Shore, Partner, Isabelle Michou, Partner, Christian Leathley, Partner, Andrew Cannon, Partner, Vanessa Naish, Professional Support Consultant, Hannah Ambrose, Professional Support Consultant, or your usual Herbert Smith Freehills contact.

Isabelle Michou
Isabelle Michou
Partner
+33 1 53 57 74 04
Laurence Shore
Laurence Shore
Partner
+1 917 542 7807
Christian Leathley
Christian Leathley
Partner
+1 917 542 7812
Andrew Cannon
Andrew Cannon
Partner
+33 1 53 57 65 52
Vanessa Naish
Vanessa Naish
Professional Support Consultant
+44 20 7466 2112
Hannah Ambrose
Hannah Ambrose
Professional Support Consultant
+44 20 7466 7585

 

Breakfast panel with TPP negotiators on 7 January 2016: Investor-state dispute settlement under the trans-pacific partnership

Join us for a panel discussion on the dispute resolution system in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), presented by experts in international arbitration, as well as members of TPP government negotiating teams from Peru and Mexico. They will discuss the controversies arising out of the TPP's adoption of investor state arbitration.

Date: Thursday, January 7, 2016

Time: Registration will begin at 8:30am. Breakfast will be served. The panel discussion will begin at 9am.

Venue: Yale Club of New York, 50 Vanderbilt Avenue, New York, NY 10017. Please click here to view map.

Registration: To register please contact Rochelle.Eades@hsf.com or Danielle.Schultz@hsf.com

For more information and the list of speakers, please see below.

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EU Commission issues “Concept Paper” on ISDS in the TTIP and beyond: proposals for “profound reform”

Further to its report on the outcome of the consultation on investment protection and investor-state dispute settlement in the TTIP, the EU Commission has issued a “Concept Paper” which envisages a very different future for resolution of investor-state disputes.

The Concept Paper builds on the four key areas which the Commission previously identified as requiring further consideration, explaining that there is opportunity for “profound reform” of the investment protection and ISDS systems. In particular, the Concept Paper contains two clear messages:

  • Despite the outcome of last year’s con and the apparent weight of opinion in the European Parliament, the Commission is not minded to remove substantive investment protections or investor-state arbitration from the TTIP.
  • The Commission envisages major changes in the future for ISDS which, if adopted in the TTIP and accepted more broadly in other free trade and investment agreements, would have significant implications for the way in which investors are able to protect their investments and resolve disputes with host states.

A summary of, and comment on, the Concept Paper can be found on our Public International Law Notes blog here.

For further information, please contact Andrew Cannon, Partner or Hannah Ambrose, Professional Support Consultant, or your usual Herbert Smith Freehills contact.

Andrew Cannon
Andrew Cannon
Partner
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Hannah Ambrose
Hannah Ambrose
Professional Support Consultant
+44 20 7466 7585

 

Forthcoming Chatham House and Herbert Smith Freehills Symposium: “TTIP: shaping the future for investor-state dispute settlement” – 4 March 2015

The proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) 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 investment protection and investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) 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.  A further consultation is promised.

But why has ISDS in TTIP aroused such opposition?  Can it be improved to strike a balance between investment protection and the right of governments to regulate?  And, if TTIP is a blueprint for future free trade agreements (FTAs), what lies in store for this form of dispute resolution?

Chatham House in partnership with Herbert Smith Freehills are holding a symposium to bring together voices from across a broad range of stakeholders.

Participants:

Sapfo Constantatos, Senior Group Legal Counsel, Dispute Resolution in the General Counsel’s Office, Standard Chartered Bank
Andrew Coop, Senior Legal Adviser, EU and International Trade, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
Lorenzo Cotula, Principal Researcher, Law and Sustainable Development, International Institute for Environment and Development
Andrea Shemberg, Lead, Investment and Human Rights Project, London School of Economics; Legal Adviser to UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Business and Human Rights (2007-11)
Christian Leathley, Partner, International Arbitration and Public International Law, Herbert Smith Freehills LLP, London

Chair:
Andrew Cannon, Partner, International Arbitration and Public International Law, Herbert Smith Freehills LLP, London

For further information, please click here.

Christian Leathley
Christian Leathley
Partner
+44 20 7466 2532
Andrew Cannon
Andrew Cannon
Partner
+33 1 53 57 65 52

Podcast – “The TTIP: Cutting through the hype surrounding investment protection and ISDS”

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership or “TTIP” has been making headlines across the EU and the US over the past months. Petitions against this free trade agreement have been signed by hundreds of thousands and protest actions have taken place across the Member States. In this short podcast, recently posted on our Public International Law Notes blog, partners Christian Leathley and Andrew Cannon look behind the headlines to consider some of the key issues being debated in relation to investment protection and ISDS and the implications of the outcome for investors investing from one market into the other.

For regular updates on investor-state-dispute-resolution and other public international law issues, please subscribe to our Public International Law Notes blog. Continue reading

Developments in resolving cross-border disputes

With the increase of global commerce, it also becomes increasingly important to provide for effective and quick dispute resolution mechanisms across state borders. A number of developments in international law recognise this trend and seek to address it. These developments include:

  • The inclusion of Investor-State Dispute Resolution mechanisms in the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement and the Transatlantic Trade and Investor Partnership,1
  • Further global acceptance of the importance of the New York Convention, which now has 152 signatories (Bhutan and Guyana being the most recent state to become parties), and
  • The European Union Justice Ministers approval of a decision to ratify The Hague Convention of 30 June 2005 on Choice of Court Agreements.

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TTIP: EU Commission publishes statistical report on responses to the public consultation on ISDS and investment protection

On 18 July, the EU Commission published its Preliminary Report (statistical overview) on the responses to its consultation on investment protection and ISDS in the TTIP (for discussion of the consultation, see our previous blog post).

The Preliminary Report demonstrates that there was considerable interest in the consultation, with a total of 149,399 online replies. The greatest number of replies came from the UK at 34.8%, with 22.59% from Austria and 21.76% from Germany. The high proportion of responses from Germany in particular is unsurprising, given that the German Government’s approach to ISDS has received considerable coverage in both the legal and mainstream press.

Significantly, over 99% of responses were submitted by individuals (with only 569 by organisations, many of which were NGOs). 42% of the respondents agreed that their contribution can be made public and the Commission will publish those responses in due course.

The Commission will now analyse the responses, a task which it says is unlikely to be completed before November. It remains to be seen how the response analysis will influence the EU’s approach to negotiations of these issues with the US.

For further information, please contact Christian Leathley, Partner, Hannah Ambrose, Professional Support Lawyer, or your usual Herbert Smith Freehills contact.

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Christian Leathley speaks at BritishAmerican Business event with keynote speech by EU Trade Commissioner Karel de Gucht: “TTIP and the Investment Dimension: What is the State of Play?”

International arbitration partner Christian Leathley spoke on a panel at an event organized by transatlantic business organization BritishAmerican Business yesterday discussing how important investor-state dispute settlement is to the success of the TTIP and whether it is feasible or desirable for the TTIP to be concluded in the absence of ISDS provisions. The TTIP is discussed in our blog post here. The keynote speech at the event was delivered by European Commissioner for Trade Karel de Gucht, who is negotiating the TTIP on behalf of the EU.

Mr de Gucht described the need for the EU Commission to get the right balance between protecting the rights of investors and preserving the right of states to regulate in the public interest. He also explained how the investment protection provisions in the TTIP were of fundamental importance in setting the standards which would be relevant in the negotiation of future investment agreements and FTAs between the EU and other states. Other speakers also referred to the global signal which would be sent by the inclusion of ISDS and the content of the substantive protections in the TTIP.

Christian noted that there was a need to identify what was the fundamental problem with ISDS; namely, that it was not the arbitral institutions (in particular ICSID) which were the issue and, whilst access to arbitration is fundamentally important, the core of the criticism of ISDS addressed the substantive rights granted to investors. He commended the EU Commission for launching the public consultation on the investment protection provisions in the TTIP as an attempt to bring together the perspectives of states and investors on substantive protection in a meaningful way. In terms of the EU Commission’s approach to the negotiation of the investment protection chapter with the US, Christian highlighted some points for further consideration, including: (i) questioning the need to amend or add to the UNCITRAL Transparency Rules, which themselves were the product of very detailed consideration; (ii) noting that the “closed list” of grounds for breach of the Fair and Equitable Treatment Standard was in places inconsistent and incomplete, particularly with regard to the treatment of an investor’s legitimate expectations; and (iii) criticising an approach which was premised on an assumption that use of shell companies was per se abusive.

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Europe consults on investment protection and ISDS in the TTIP

The European Commission has launched a public consultation on its proposed approach to investment protection and investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) provisions in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (the TTIP).  The TTIP is a free trade agreement currently in negotiation between the United States and the European Union. Negotiations for the TTIP began in July 2013.

The Commission has described its approach as containing “a series of innovative elements that the EU proposes using as the basis for the TTIP negotiations” and stated that the key issue on which it is consulting is “whether the EU’s proposed approach for TTIP achieves the right balance between protecting investors and safeguarding the EU’s right and ability to regulate in the public interest”.

Whilst the EU is not consulting on a draft text of the TTIP, it has included as a reference text the investment protection and ISDS provisions in the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (the CETA), between the EU and Canada.

Whilst we are currently a long way from a signed agreement including investment protection and ISDS provisions, stakeholders may nonetheless want to take this opportunity to consider the ways in which the EU’s approach and the negotiations could impact upon them.  The European Commission’s Consultation can be found here and closes on 6 July 2014.

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