ISDS allows foreign investors to sue our Government

Investor-State Dispute Settlement

Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS): corporate power vs the public interest

An unbalanced and unfair system

ISDS gives special rights to foreign investors (that are not available to local investors) to bypass national courts and sue governments for millions of dollars if they can claim that a change in law or policy will harm their investment. ISDS has been included in some trade and investment agreements. All such agreements have government-to-government dispute systems, but not all have ISDS. 

ISDS  is a fundamentally unbalanced system that gives additional legal rights to global corporations that already have enormous market power. Strong community opposition has kept it out of World Trade Organisation agreements, and of recent agreements like the Regional comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), the Australia-UK Free Trade Agreement and the Australia-EU Free Trade Agreement. 

ISDS tribunals consist of investment lawyers who can continue to be practicing lawyers, with obvious conflicts of interest. Australia’s High Court Chief Justice and other legal experts have said that ISDS is not a fair legal system because it has no independent judges, no precedents and no appeals. There are  1190 known cases, many against health, environment, regulation of carbon emissions and other public interest laws.


Clive Palmer launches second ISDS case against the Australian government with third case likely

12 July, 2023: The Attorney General’s Department has confirmed that Clive Palmer’s company, Zeph Investment, which is registered in Singapore, has lodged a second Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) claim suing the Australian government for $41.3 billion under the 2012 ASEAN-Australia New Zealand Free Trade Agreement.

Report to the UN shows the threat of ISDS provisions to human rights and the environment

10 July, 2023 In response to a call from the UN, legal experts from the Centre for International Environmental Law, International Institute for Sustainable Development and ClientEarth have released a submission outlining the dangers of Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) on the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment.

Honduras risks losing $11 billion in ISDS case after repealing laws created by authoritarian government

June 30, 2023: US company Próspera has launched a $11 billion dollars Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) claim against Honduras for repealing a controversial law.

ISDS is a mechanism within some trade agreements which enables foreign (but not local) investors to sue governments for millions and even billions of dollars of compensation if they can argue, among other reasons, that a change in domestic law or policy has reduced the value of their investment.