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CETA ISDS Mechanism Compatible with EU Law: What Implications?

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This article has jointly been co-authored by Isabelle Van Damme and Quentin Declève

On 30 April 2019, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) decided in Opinion 1/17 that the chapter on investor-State dispute settlement (ISDS) in the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between Canada, of one part, and the European Union and its Member States, of the other part (CETA) is compatible with EU primary law. On 29 January 2019, Advocate General Bot had already reached the same conclusion (for an analysis, see here).

Opinion 1/17 removes a significant obstacle to the ratification of CETA by the EU Member States and the ratification of investment protection agreements with, for example, Singapore and Vietnam, which contain similar chapters on ISDS. The Opinion also significantly boosts the European Union negotiating position in the ongoing United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) negotiations on ISDS reform. At the same time, the Opinion might, to some extent, tie the hands of the European Union in negotiating in that forum.READ MORE

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The Netherlands Amends and Broadens its Legal Framework on Collective Claims

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On 19 March 2019, the Dutch Parliament adopted the act aimed at facilitating the litigation of collective damages claims (the Act).

Under the previous regime (see previous post), Dutch courts could only render a declaratory judgment establishing that the defendant acted unlawfully. As a claim for damages could not be brought in collective actions, claimants had to resort to the Dutch Collective Settlement of Mass Claims Act (WCAM) in order to settle the case with the defendant, after which the Amsterdam Court of Appeal declared that settlement generally binding.

This situation has now changed with the adoption of the Act as it introduces the possibility to claim damages in a collective action before Dutch courts.

In addition, the Act also adds stricter requirements regarding the standing of representative organisations. While individual plaintiffs taking a role in class actions are inadmissible under Dutch law, the Act contains some key provisions regarding the qualification and characteristics of “representative organisations” (i.e., claim vehicles that take a role in the litigation and settlement negotiations with the defendant). The Act also contains specific provisions on the conduct of the proceedings.READ MORE

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SAVE THE DATE: CEPANI40 Event on Investment Arbitration and EU Law

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On 8 May 2019, Van Bael & Bellis (my firm) will host a CEPANI40 event on the relationship between investment arbitration and EU law. The timing of the event could not have been better since the Court of Justice of the European Union will have delivered its long-awaited Opinion 1/17 (on CETA) just a couple of days before (on 30 April 2019).

You will find the full programme of the event below. For registration, please send an email (with your affiliation) to events@vbb.com.

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The United States Requests KORUS Consultations with South Korea over Competition Policy

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I reported a couple of weeks ago that the European Union (the EU) requested, in December 2018, formal consultations with South Korea following Korea’s failure to implement certain sustainable development commitments made under the EU-Korea Trade Agreement.

It now appears that it is the United States’ turn to initiate formal consultations with South Korea pursuant to Chapter 16 of the US-Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS).READ MORE

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Equivalence and Translation: Further thoughts on IO Immunities in Jam v. IFC

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At the end of February, the Supreme Court of the United States issued a landmark judgment on the immunity of international organizations in Jam v. International Finance Corporation, 58 U.S. (2019). The case concerned the meaning of the 1945 International Organizations Immunities Act (IOIA), which affords international organizations “the same immunity from suit […] as is enjoyed by foreign governments[1]. Writing for a 7-1 majority, Chief Justice Roberts found that the IOIA incorporates a dynamic immunities regime, equivalent to whatever immunities US law affords to foreign states. The immunities of international organizations are keyed to sovereign immunity. The former evolve to meet the latter. Thus, as the US law of sovereign immunity has shifted from an absolute to a restrictive paradigm with the enactment of the 1952 Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA), so too does the IOIA today incorporate merely restrictive immunity for international organizations.READ MORE

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Achmea – A Year After: My Contribution in European Papers

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Dear readers,

As we have just celebrated the first anniversary of the Achmea judgment (which the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) handed down on 6 March 2018), I wanted to share with you an article that I have just published in the European Papers[1] on the implications of that judgment on investor-State dispute settlement and applicable law clauses in BITs and other agreements concluded by the EU (or its Member States) with third countries.READ MORE

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