Seminar: The Worst-Kept Secret in the World – TTIP, ISDS, and the Quest for Transparency and Democracy in the Regulation of Foreign Investment

On November 3rd Ira Ryk-Lakhman (University College London) and me will be speaking at the University of Leicester about the TTIP and ISDS in light of the recent developments in the negotiation and the position of the EU. In spite of my usual hardcore positions on the TTIP I’ll try to debunk a few myths as well as providing a comprehensive overview of what the TTIP would effectively mean in terms of investment protection and how it would affect the populations of host States. Ira, on the other hand, will present her paper “The (Swing of the) Pendulum and the Pit – Why Investor-State Dispute Settlement should not be replaced with a Permanent Investment Court?” and deal with the ISDS aspects of the treaty. To be honest, her paper is much more interesting and controversial than mine, and – having read it – I guarantee it’s worth a trip to the Midlands.

This event is hosted by the International Law Research Cluster and the Dispute Resolution Research Cluster of the Leicester Law School and part of the 2015–2016 CELI seminar series and is open, as every seminar should be, to staff, students, graduates and members of the public. Hope to see you there!

Here are the details:

Date: Tuesday 3 November 2015, 3 pm – 5 pm

Venue: Room FJ164, Leicester Law School, Fielding Johnson Building, University of Leicester

Contact: For more information please contact Ms Teresa Rowe at Teresa.rowe(a) or the University of Leicester School of Law Reception at +44(0)116 252 2363. Or me, really – I should have the details.

Judicializing ISDS – is it really the way forward?

Much has been said about the ongoing negotiations on the TTIP – I’ve personally expressed my point of view many times here and elsewhere – but it seems that the EU Commission could care less about the debate; in fact, after undermining the whole system of investment arbitration by, effectively, blowing on the fire of the criticism aimed at investment arbitration by it most ferocious critics, the Commission has now openly called for the establishment of a two-tier investment court to hear disputes that may arise under a prospective TTIP. I realise that, one month after the draft text of the Chapter on investment, everyone and their aunt have familiarised themselves with the (in)famous Sub-Section 4 of the Chapter, but I’ll nonetheless report it here for the sake of completeness: Read More →

So, where were we?

The last time I posted on Investment Blawg it was roughly two months ago, and I was coming from a late night writing marathon to post the instant paper on the EU Parliament’s motion on TTIP and ISDS. I wasn’t planning to take such a long break from blogging but holidays, papers to finish and lack of things to say have kept me away from these pages for a bit. Nonetheless, the instant paper has made the SSRN Top Ten download list for Investment Law, Public International Law and even European Public Law, which is something I surely wasn’t expecting and for which I have to thank, well, everyone who downloaded and read it. Speaking of EU and investment, I’ll be at the Annual Society of Legal Scholars Conference at the University of York from tomorrow until Friday morning, when I’ll present “The Elusive Nature of ICSID Tribunals’ Decisions” for the third and likely last time. I’ll be live-tweeting from the X sections of the Conference, where X stands for “whatever session will stimulate my interest at a given moment” on Thursday and International Law on Friday. If you’re around, come say hi. Read More →

Instant Paper – the EU Parliament’s Motion and the future of the TTIP negotiations and investment arbitration

After following the debate on the TTIP at the European Parliament yesterday I decided, as a sort of experiment, to write an instant paper with my thoughts on the amendments to the Motion for a Resolution containing its recommendations to the European Commission on the negotiations for the TTIP. It is an instant paper, publish in the University of Leicester School of Law Research Papers series that I edit and not a blog post because:

a) for once I wanted to force myself to comment straight away on a current issue with a more formal, less blog-style tone (and I’m not sure I managed to do so, as the knowledge that I wasn’t going to submit the paper to any peer-reviewed journal gave me some freedom to push the envelope here and there);

b) a lot of things needed to be referenced and doing so in the blog would have made it very hard both for me coding the post and for readers constantly scrolling up and down to check the endnotes.

The paper can be downloaded on SSRN; all comments are welcome, and if anyone wishes to work together on any of the issues raised in the paper, please do email me. Here’s the abstract:

This paper has been written in one day as an instant commentary to the TTIP debate that took place on 7 July 2015 at the EU Parliament, and how the Parliament’s Motion for a Resolution including the Recommendations to the EU Commission on the negotiations for the TTIP may shape the future of investment arbitration. The paper analyses the purpose of the paragraph on investor-state dispute settlement in the EU Parliament’s document and the amendments to such paragraph discussed at the plenary of 7 July 2015, before discussing the probable effects of this Motion on the system of investment arbitration.

Hope you’ll enjoy it, and please feel free to share it.

Eternal darkness of the spotless academic mind

I spent the weekend at the ICC Young Arbitrators Forum Global Conference. I intended to livetweet, but a combination of 5.30 wake-up call, laziness and someone-will-be-doing-it-anyways-itis led me to only tweet twice during Saturday morning’s closing keynote by John Beechey, when many others were indeed livetweeting. Nonetheless, I don’t think it would have made much of a difference: most of this weblog’s readers, at least according to the feedback that I usually receive, are academics and policy experts, and so are my twitter followers. Livetweet or not, though, they wouldn’t have given one tenth of a rat’s ass. How do I know it? That’s the whole point of this post. Read More →

It’s the end of the world as we know it: the EU Commission’s Concept Paper on investment arbitration in the TTIP

The EU Commission loves investment, and apparently hates the ICSID – although for very different reasons from the ones brought forward by the anti-TTIP movement. While the latter claims that evil corporation will suck the blood out of our countries’ people thanks to these secret tribunals, the Commission is all for investor-state dispute settlement, arbitration and the likes – just not in its present form, and makes it very clear every time that an ICSID case may or may not have an outcome that goes slightly against EU law. On May 19, the Commission published a concept paper named “Investment in TTIP and beyond – the path for reform” that highlights what it’s already done to enhance investment protection in the most recent EU investment treaties (CETA and EU-Singapore FTA), and what it plans to put on the table in the TTIP negotiation with regard to investor-state dispute settlement (you’ll forgive me if I avoid the acronym ISDS). Read More →

Seminar: The Elusive Nature of ICSID Tribunals’ Decisions (yes, again)

ICSIDcityRepetita iuvant, the Romans used to say; therefore, I am repeating myself, for the benefit of those who couldn’t attend the seminar in Leicester on March 18 (and mine, because there’s no such thing as “enough feedback” on a research idea; I promise this is the second-last time I present this paper, though!). On June 4th, at 6 pm, I will be presenting “The Elusive Nature of ICSID Tribunals’ Decisions” at the City University, London (Room AG01, College Building, EC1V 4PB). The details of the event can be found on the City University London website. Come along and bring your friends (as long as they are interested in international arbitration, that is).

My name is Bond. Sovereign Bond.

Apologies for the post title, but it had to be done. Now, seriously: are financial investments “investments” under BIT regimes and the ICSID Convention? It is the question that the tribunal in Poštová banka and Istrokapital v. Greece (ICSID Case No. ARB/13/8) has sort of/well, not quite/ok, kinda answered in the award in which jurisdiction was denied (saving Greece from quite a problematic discussion on the nature of their bond-related obligations, although it may just be a matter of time). Jokes aside, as a notorious complainer when awards are too short and unsubstantiated, I need to praise Messrs. Zuleta and Townsend and Prof. Stern for taking the time to discuss even matters of qualification of investment under Article 25 ICSID even though there was absolutely no need to. Read More →

Lie to Me, season 2: is the TTIP really a nightmare?

This post was updated on 8 April 2015, 7 pm GMT. Please see the end of the post for the update.


I rarely engage with activists, not because of a lack of respect for their instances, but simply because it’s a no-win situation. I’m not going to convince them in a million years, and I will end up looking like a d**k, or – even worse – a corporate lawyer in the process. Either way, I’m not going to make any friends.

Mattia, however, is a friend and an alumnus of my Alma Mater, before being an activist, and I’m sure he’ll read this with an open mind. Since his aim is to stimulate a debate, here’s my take on Nick Dearden’s comment on the TTIP negotiations, and on the anti-TTIP movement in general. Read More →

March Madness or Vis Moot?

Another year, another Vis Moot. Personally, it’s probably been the most rewarding edition so far, and after a bad-ish experience it got me looking forward to next year already. This year, however, I’ve surprisingly had some extra time to wander around the Juridicum by myself, have a good look around and a few chats with coaches and arbitrators other than the long time Viennese friends, and focus on a few nice things I still didn’t know about after six years – together with a few unpleasant ones. This – I feel I have to put a disclaimer here – is, nonetheless, a very personal account of the XXII Vis Moot, seen through the eyes of a teacher/coach. I’ll get back to blogging about the investment law world in no time – it looks like the TTIP needs an advocate once again… Read More →