Financial stability

Investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) is one of the greatest threats to the re-regulation of finance. ISDS empowers the very firms that financial regulation seeks to govern. These firms can bypass host country domestic courts and directly challenge domestic policies in a parallel system of justice.

Financial and non-financial firms have increasingly used ISDS provisions in trade agreements to challenge financial regulations and emergency financial stability measures.

Most well-known cases include:

• Investors vs. Argentina: When the country froze its utility rates and devaluated its currency in response to its 2001-2002 financial crisis, it was hit by over 40 lawsuits from investors, including Suez, Vivendi (France) and Anglian Water (UK). By January 2014, Argentina had been ordered to pay a total of US$980 million (various BITs invoked).

• Poštová Banka (Slovakia) & Istrokapital (Cyprus) vs. Greece: the Slovak bank and its Cypriot investor sued Greece on account of the restructuring of the country’s sovereign debt, after having bought Greek government bonds at a knockdown value. The investors lost the case. (Greece-Slovakia & Cyprus-Greece BITs invoked).

• Saluka (Netherlands) vs. Czech Republic: the Dutch investment corporation filed an ISDS dispute against the Czech government for not bailing out a private bank, in which the company had a stake, in the same way that the government bailed out banks in which the government had a major stake. The bailouts came in response to a widespread bank debt crisis. The investor was awarded US$236 million (Czech Republic-Netherlands BIT invoked).

(March 2020)

WEED | 12-Dec-2014
The film explains how the settlement works and why it endangers necessary governmental rescue measures in financial crises as occurred in Greece, Cypress and Argentina.
Public Citizen | 4-Dec-2014
US congressional leaders have just sent a letter to the Obama administration warning against TAFTA/TTIP provisions that could restrict Congress’ ability to prevent another financial crisis.
Skadden | 3-Dec-2014
State measures that reduce or nullify existing creditor rights, such as the Argentine “Lock Law” or similar moratoria on repayment, may violate BIT rights and supply investors and creditors in other jurisdictions, particularly in the eurozone, with a basis for challenging similar measures.
Globe and Mail | 31-Oct-2007
A Chicago couple is launching a challenge under the North American Free Trade Agreement after they lost money when the Canadian government opted to tax income trusts last year.
| 9-Aug-2006
"We are learning new things while we’re negotiating with the American representatives," said a Korean official who was part of the labor section negotiation team during the first round of the Korea-U.S. FTA talks, held in Washington last June. "The U.S. is demanding the introduction of a so-called ’public communication system,’ which was a term that we heard for the first time," the negotiator told Hankyoreh.
| 20-Jul-2005
Criticism of the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) currently being considered by the U.S. Congress has focused heavily on concerns that the treaty would devastate Central American farmers who would be forced to compete with heavily subsidized U.S. agribusiness.

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