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  • Subject Name : Law


In order to facilitate and regulate the economic exchanges between nations and investors, trade, international investment, and arbitration law are interrelated areas. The connections and exchanges between these domains are summarised as follows:

  1. Linkages between Trade and Investment: Trade between countries and foreign direct investment (FDI) is closely related. commerce agreements frequently include clauses pertaining to investment protection, and investment agreements may deal with matters pertaining to commerce[1].
  2. Protection of Investments in Trade Agreements: Investment protection clauses are a common feature in trade agreements, designed to promote and protect foreign investments. These clauses frequently include protection from expropriation, assurances of just and equitable treatment, and procedures for investor-state dispute settlement.[2]
  3. Settlement of Investor-State Disputes (ISDS): Foreign investors can file direct claims against host states for alleged violations of investment safeguards through ISDS provisions, which are frequently present in international investment agreements. An essential part of investment arbitration is ISDS[3].
  4. WTO and Financial Inflows: Although trade-related issues are the World Trade Organization's (WTO) primary focus, talks regarding the convergence of trade and investment occur within the WTO framework. Debatable has been the inclusion of investment-related issues in trade negotiations[4].
  5. Trade agreements, both bilateral and regional: Investment chapters addressing the treatment and protection of investors are frequently included in bilateral and regional trade agreements. The purpose of these agreements is to facilitate trade and investment across international borders.[5]
  6. Arbitration in Business and Finance: Arbitration is applied to some trade-related matters as well as investment conflicts. For example, international commercial arbitration may be used to settle disagreements resulting from trade agreements or commercial contracts.
  7. Effects of Trade Policy on Investment: Trade regulations, including tariffs and non-tariff barriers, have the power to affect investment choices. While trade restrictions may have an effect on the profitability of investments, a favourable trade climate may draw in more foreign direct investment.[6]
  8. Facilitating Investment and Promoting Trade: Governments frequently enact agreements and regulations to encourage commerce and investment. The goal of these initiatives is to foster an atmosphere that promotes technical transfer, employment development, and economic progress.
  9. Coordinating and Overlap: Different legal regimes must coordinate because trade and investment issues overlap. Keeping the laws governing investment, trade, and dispute resolution coherent and consistent is a difficult but crucial endeavour.
  10. Debates and Recent Developments: The convergence of trade, investment, and arbitration presents both opportunities and challenges. Prominent recent events in this regard include the negotiations of mega-regional trade agreements and talks about ISDS reform.[7]

As a whole, commerce, international investment, and arbitration law are related domains that collectively significantly influence the structure of the world economy. Because of the dynamic character of international economic relations, the links and interactions within various domains are still developing.[8]

International Investment Law vis-à-vis Arbitration Law

International Investment Law:

In order to offer advantages and protections to foreign investors, numerous nations sign bilateral investment treaties and other international agreements. The rights and responsibilities of investors and host states are outlined in these accords. To safeguard foreign investors, international investment law incorporates a number of requirements. Fair and equal treatment, complete security and protection, national treatment, and immunity from unjustifiable expropriation are examples of common norms. [9] Foreign investors can file direct claims for alleged violations of investment protection rules against host nations through the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) system. These claims are heard by arbitral tribunals, which are frequently set up in accordance with the guidelines of organisations such as the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID). International investment law acknowledges states' rights to regulate for the public good while yet protecting investors. The difficulty is striking a balance between state sovereignty over internal regulations and investment protection.[10]

International Arbitration Law:

When the parties to a dispute have decided that arbitration is the best means of settlement, the legal structure that controls such proceedings is known as international arbitration law. It is a popular substitute for conventional litigation, particularly in conflicts involving investments and international business transactions. Key elements of international arbitration law are as follows:

  1. Legal Structures and Accords:
  2. New York Convention: The New York Convention, also referred to as the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards, makes it easier for arbitral awards to be recognised and upheld globally. It is widely acknowledged throughout the world[11].
  3. UNCITRAL Model Law: The Model Law of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) offers a template for national adoption of contemporary arbitration legislation. This model law has been modified or adopted by numerous governments.
  4. Agreements for Arbitration: The arbitration agreement, in which parties agree to submit their problems to arbitration rather than going to court, is the cornerstone of international arbitration. The arbitration's parameters and the rules that will apply to it are specified in the agreement.
  5. Tribunals for Arbitration: Arbitrators selected in accordance with the established arbitration rules or chosen by the parties make up arbitral tribunals. It is their duty to resolve the conflict in an unbiased and just way.[12]
  6. Institutions and Rules for Arbitration: Rules and procedures for holding arbitrations are provided by a number of organisations, including the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), the London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA), and the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID). These guidelines guarantee uniformity and facilitate process optimisation.[13]
  7. Enforcing Awards: the ease with which arbitral awards can be enforced internationally is one benefit of arbitration. Parties can pursue enforcement in multiple jurisdictions by using the New York Convention, which makes it easier for awards to be recognised and enforced in over 160 nations.
  8. Discretion: Parties to arbitration hearings often enjoy a degree of privacy not found in court litigation since arbitration proceedings are frequently confidential. Businesses and individuals involved in delicate affairs value this confidentiality.
  9. Impartiality and Neutrality: In order to provide all parties with a fair hearing, arbitrators are supposed to conduct themselves impartially and neutrally. The arbitrators are chosen, usually by consensus or in accordance with established protocols, which enhances the process's perceived fairness.[14]
  10. Obstacles and Changes: International arbitration presents a number of difficulties, such as perceived lack of transparency, cost, and duration. The arbitration community is continuously working to overcome these problems by implementing procedural changes, establishing ethical standards, and broadening the pool of potential arbitrators.

International arbitration law is still developing because there is a need for a quick and easy way to settle disputes in a worldwide setting. It gives parties a degree of control over the dispute resolution procedure as well as flexibility and enforceability.[15]

Role of Arbitration in Investment Disputes:

Investor-State Arbitration (ISDS): In most cases, this type of arbitration is conducted between a sovereign state and a private investor. It enables investors to demand payment from the host state for alleged treaty-related infractions. Arbitral Tribunals usually made up of legal professionals, these panels of arbitrators hear cases involving investments and render decisions. These tribunals follow international law concepts while operating autonomously from national courts. Investment arbitration is governed by a number of institutions, including ICSID, UNCITRAL, the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), and others. These guidelines promote fairness and standardise processes. In general, arbitral awards are enforceable and binding. States are supposed to abide by the rulings, although there may be difficulties in enforcing them, especially if the losing state objects[16].


  1. Perceived Bias: Detractors claim that the ISDS system lacks transparency and is biassed in favour of investors. Reforms to the system are being worked on, with an emphasis on issues with arbitrator appointments, decision-making uniformity, and openness.
  2. Policy Space: States are becoming more conscious of the need to protect policy space for necessary regulations. The goal of ongoing reform talks in international fora, such UNCITRAL, is striking a better balance between investor protection and the authority to regulate.

In conclusion, a sophisticated framework that aims to promote foreign investment while upholding states' sovereign rights is formed by international investment law and arbitration. The goal of ongoing debates and revisions is to improve the system's efficacy, fairness, and transparency.[17]


In investment arbitration, the respondent state's claims made in response to the investor's initial claims are referred to as counterclaims[18]. Within the same arbitration processes, governments might use this method to voice their own complaints or assert legal rights against the investor. The following are important details about investment arbitration counterclaims:

  1. Basis for Law and Consent: Generally, the parties' consent is required in order to file counterclaims. The submission of counterclaims must be expressly permitted or prohibited by the arbitration agreement or the applicable investment treaty.
  2. Qualifications for Jurisdiction: Counterclaims must adhere to the same jurisdictional standards as the investor's claims. The counterclaims must be within the purview of the arbitration agreement and any applicable treaties for the tribunal to have jurisdiction over them. [19]
  3. Relationship to the Fundamental Conflict: Generally speaking, counterclaims must sufficiently relate to the topic of the investor's claims. The counterclaims are guaranteed to be pertinent to the main points of contention because of this connectivity.[20]
  4. Considerations for Procedure and Timing: It is important to file the counterclaims on time. Tribunals have the authority to evaluate if the counterclaims were filed on time and to resolve procedural matters including whether to split the case so that the investor's claims and the state's counterclaims are heard separately.
  5. Conformity to Treaty Requirements: Counterclaims have to be in line with what the state is required to do by the applicable investment treaty. They must be able to be litigated in accordance with the relevant legal framework and frequently result from purported breaches of the investor's commitments.
  6. Nature of Counterclaims: Counterclaims can address a broad range of legal matters, including injury brought about by the investor's conduct, violations of investment treaty requirements, and breaches of contractual commitments.[21]
  7. Principles of Public International Law: The evaluation of counterclaims may be influenced by general principles of public international law, such as the prohibition of rights abuse, state responsibility, and good faith.
  8. Reliefs: If the counterclaims are successful, the tribunal is able to award the proper remedies such as damages, injunctive relief, or any other type of relief judged appropriate in the given situation are all possible remedies.[22]

Admissibility of Counterclaims:

The acceptability and legality of claims that a respondent state may make against an investor as part of the same arbitration procedures are referred to as the admissibility of counterclaims in investment arbitration. The state's declaration of legal rights against the investment in response to the investor's claims is known as a counterclaim. Many legal factors must be taken into account when determining whether counterclaims are admissible, and each case's unique facts and circumstances are a major factor in this decision. [23]The following are important variables that affect a counterclaim's admissibility:

  1. Consent and Arbitration Agreement: Consent between the parties is essential in international arbitration. Counterclaims must be expressly permitted under the arbitration agreement or the appropriate investment treaty, or at the very least, not prohibited. The parties' agreement for the arbitral tribunal to have jurisdiction over a counterclaim is a necessary condition.
  2. Determining Jurisdiction: The counterclaims must fall under the tribunal's jurisdiction.[24] This entails determining if the counterclaims are covered under the arbitration agreement, the appropriate investment treaty, or the relevant body of law.[25]
  3. Relationship to the Fundamental Conflict: The relationship between counterclaims and the main dispute that the investor started may determine whether or not they are admissible. Tribunals frequently take into account whether the investor's claims and the counterclaims have a strong enough connection.[26]
  4. Time-Related Aspects: One such factor is the timing of the counterclaims. Tribunals may take into account whether counterclaims are filed on time, and some investment treaties and arbitration rules may have particular deadlines for raising counterclaims.
  5. Conformity to Treaty Requirements: Counterclaims have to be in line with the investor's responsibilities under the relevant investment treaty. Tribunals have the authority to determine whether the state's claims are justiciable and if the counterclaims result from an investor's violation of duty.
  6. Principles of Public International Law: Tribunals may take broad public international law considerations into account when determining whether counterclaims are admissible. This covers the precepts of good faith, accountability on the part of the state, and the ban on rights abuse.
  7. Procedure Concerns: Procedure-related questions, including whether they must be brought in different proceedings or if they can be brought in the same one, may be raised by counterclaims. In certain situations, splitting up the proceedings might be contemplated[27].

Do counterclaims offer a possible rebalancing in favour of the state with this issue?

In international investment conflicts, the use of counterclaims may provide a way for the state to rebalance in its favour and press complaints against investors. However, a number of variables can affect how effective counterclaims are, and international investment law is still a complicated field. [28]

The benefits of counterclaims:

  1. Counterclaims allow states to contest investor behaviour that can be viewed as harmful to the interests of the host state, thus balancing the dynamics between investors and states. This could contribute to bringing the much-maligned investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) system back into balance.[29]

  2. Resolving Investor Misconduct: Counterclaims offer a way to make investors answerable for activities that could jeopardise the public interest or regulatory goals of the host state. This is especially important when investors act in ways that go against the objectives of sustainable development.
  3. Strengthening State Sovereignty: By enabling states to protect their regulatory independence against challenges from investors, counterclaims help to strengthen the concept of state sovereignty. States may use it as a weapon to protect vital policy areas.[30]

Criticisms and Challenges:

  1. Power Asymmetry: States and investors have a natural power imbalance, even with the possible advantages. Investors can afford to fight a case with considerable financial backing, but states—especially the smaller ones—may find it difficult to successfully pursue counterclaims.[31]

  2. Complexity and Procedural Issues: The dispute resolution process may be made more difficult by the procedural complications of counterclaims, such as their admissibility and possibility for bifurcation. States may be discouraged from using counterclaims as a practical tactic due to their intricacy.
  3. Limited Priority: Compared to investor claims, counterclaims are less common in investor-state conflicts. The absence of clear precedent and guidelines for the proper handling of counterclaims presents a difficulty in forecasting results and establishing uniform criteria.[32]

Relevant Case Laws:

  1. Venezuela v. Gold Reserve (2016)[33]

Venezuela v. Gold Reserve is a well-known investment arbitration case involving the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and Gold Reserve Inc., a Canadian mining firm. The case is especially important because it raises questions about international investment law's rules on compensation and investment expropriation. The main information and conclusions are outlined below:

Background: A Canadian mining corporation called Gold Reserve had made investments in mining ventures in Venezuela. Among the investments was the massive gold and copper mining project known as the Brisas Project.

Conflict and Appropriation: Venezuela expropriated Gold Reserve's holdings in 2008 as a part of a larger mining nationalisation programme. The expropriation, according to Gold Reserve, breached international law, including criteria for fair and equal treatment and safeguards against expropriation without sufficient compensation. For this reason, Gold Reserve filed for arbitration against Venezuela.

Major Legal Issue:

  1. Expropriation: Whether Venezuela's conduct qualified as expropriation under international law was the main legal question. Venezuela stated that the expropriation was a lawful exercise of its sovereign authority, while Gold Reserve maintained that it was illegal.
  2. Pay: Determining the amount of compensation for the expropriated investments was another important matter. Based on the fair market worth of its investments at the time of expropriation, Gold Reserve requested compensation.

Verdict of the Arbitral Tribunal:

Regarding the expropriation problem, the arbitral tribunal—which was functioning in accordance with the guidelines of the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID)—ruled in favour of Gold Reserve. The tribunal determined that Venezuela's arbitrary expropriation of Gold Reserve's investments violated international law, particularly the principle of fair and equitable treatment. When it came to compensation, the tribunal gave Gold Reserve a sizeable award that included interest, expenses, and the fair market value of the investments at the time of expropriation.


The case emphasises how crucial it is to uphold international investment rules, including the duty to treat foreign investors fairly and equally. It emphasises the possible repercussions for states who disregard these requirements, with the investor receiving significant monetary awards in exchange for the expropriation.

  1. Ecuador v. Chevron[34]:

The "Ecuador v. Chevron" case, the legal conflict between Ecuador and Chevron is a multi-decade judicial struggle including issues pertaining to investment, human rights, and the environment. The main issues in the case include claims of environmental harm, oil pollution in the Amazon rainforest, and ensuing legal actions. Below is a synopsis of the major happenings:

Background: The lawsuit is based on Texaco's (later owned by Chevron) 1964–1992 operations in the Ecuadorian Amazon. In addition to working in tandem with the state-owned Petroecuador, Texaco was involved in oil exploration and extraction. There have been claims that Texaco's operations have seriously harmed the environment, including oil spills and the incorrect disposal of toxic waste, which has contaminated rivers and soil and negatively impacted the health of nearby populations. Initially, impacted communities sued Texaco in US courts. Chevron countered that Texaco and Ecuador signed a 1998 deal known as the "Release," which released the firm from further liabilities in exchange for a remediation programme.

Court Proceedings:

  1. Ecuadorian Lago Agrio Litigation: Affected communities launched a case in Ecuador in 2003 following the U.S. lawsuits. A multibillion dollar judgement against Chevron was the outcome of the Lago Agrio litigation in 2011. Chevron was ordered to compensate for environmental harm and was found to be at fault in the ruling.
  2. International Arbitration: Citing fraud and corruption as the cause of the Ecuadorian judgement, Chevron filed an international arbitration complaint against Ecuador in response to the ruling. In 2018, Ecuador was found to have broken its responsibilities under international investment treaties by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, which decided in favour of Chevron.
  3. Enforcement Attempts: Affected communities made attempts to enforce the Ecuadorian ruling in a number of nations, including Brazil and Canada. The lawful

Current development in the case:

  1. Ongoing Legal Battles: Chevron is still embroiled in legal disputes with Ecuador and the impacted people. There has been a lot of legal debate and criticism on this case.
  2. Impact on the Environment and Society: The case has wider ramifications for environmental protection, corporate accountability, and the rights of impacted populations. It has sparked debates about whether legal frameworks are sufficient to handle international abuses of human rights and the environment.

One of the most well-known and divisive legal cases involving a multinational corporation, environmental harm, and the pursuit of justice by impacted communities is still Ecuador v. Chevron. The case highlights the difficulties in holding international entities accountable for abuses of human rights and environmental harm.

There is an ongoing discussion on UNCITRAL Working Group III and its consideration of counterclaims[35]:

  1. UNCITRAL Working Group III: The purpose of UNCITRAL Working Group III on ISDS Reform is to investigate potential changes to the ISDS framework. [36]The group has been convening to ascertain issues and devise possible remedies to augment the credibility, effectiveness, and comprehensiveness of the ISDS mechanism.[37]
  2. Addition of Rebuttals: The ISDS system's handling of counterclaims and their inclusion are among the topics being discussed. In the same arbitration processes, there will be talks about whether and how states should be able to file counterclaims against investors.[38]
  3. Issues Countered by Counterclaims: Some regard counterclaims as a way to shift the relationship between the investor and the state. By enabling states to file counterclaims, a more equitable dispute resolution procedure might be provided in cases where states are harmed or encounter difficulties as a result of investor behaviour.[39]
  4. Complexity and Problems with Procedures: The potential procedural complications are taken into account while discussing counterclaims. Among the complicated procedural problems being addressed are how to handle counterclaims and determine their admission, as well as whether the proceedings should split apart or not.[40]
  5. Public Feedback and Consultations: UNCITRAL Working Group III has been working with multiple stakeholders in an open and transparent manner. The reform process has included public submissions, consultations, and conversations with investors, states, attorneys, and other interested parties.
  6. Current Developments and Reforms: the talks on ISDS reforms, including the evaluation of counterclaims, were still going on as of my last update. [41]Additional discussions and consensus-building among UNCITRAL member states were required to determine the conclusion and any potential changes to the ISDS system.[42]

Instances under International Investment law where an arbitral tribunal has decided in favour of international investors claims over domestic regulations:

  1. Philips Morris vs. Uruguay[43]: The Philip Morris v. Uruguay case is a well-known investment arbitration conflict involving the Republic of Uruguay and the multinational tobacco corporation Philip Morris International (PMI). Uruguay's tobacco control policies, which sought to lower smoking rates and safeguard public health, gave rise to the lawsuit. The main legal issue in the case concerned Philip Morris's claim that Uruguay's requirement for large, graphic health warnings on cigarette packages violated its intellectual property rights by infringing on its trademarks and branding. Philip Morris also claimed that the tobacco control measures violated the terms of the bilateral investment treaty (BIT) between Uruguay and Switzerland by amounting to indirect expropriation and a violation of the fair and equitable treatment provisions. Nonetheless, an arbitral panel established by the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) in July 2016 rendered a decision in Uruguay's favour. The tribunal rejected Philip Morris's arguments, concluding that Uruguay's tobacco control laws were a lawful use of the government's sovereign prerogative to safeguard the general welfare. The panel dismissed the allegations of expropriation and unfair and uneven treatment, highlighting the regulatory power of the state to enact policies that advance public welfare. The case is noteworthy because it brought attention to the conflict between investor rights and public health goals. The tribunal's ruling upheld governments' rights to take action to safeguard the public's health, even when doing so interfered with foreign investors' interests. Establishing that regulatory actions taken for public health reasons are not automatically considered expropriatory or a violation of investment protection standards, the ruling set a precedent for other nations implementing tobacco control measures. [44]It also reinforced the principle that states have the sovereign right to regulate in the public interest, including implementing measures to address health concerns, without automatically triggering liability under investment treaties.

  2. Vattenfall AB v. Germany (2016)[45]: In the Vattenfall AB v. Germany case, the Federal Republic of Germany and the Swedish energy corporation Vattenfall AB are involved in an investment arbitration dispute. The dispute started mainly because of Germany's determination to gradually phase out nuclear power in the wake of Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident. The dispute is related to Germany's decision to expedite the phase-out of nuclear power following the Fukushima nuclear accident in 2011. The government put limitations on the upkeep and operation of nuclear power stations by amending the Atomic Energy Act. Vattenfall contended that the abrupt shift in Germany's nuclear energy policy had a negative impact on its investments and went beyond the safeguards provided by the Energy Charter Treaty. Vattenfall operated nuclear power reactors in Germany, mostly in the states of Hamburg and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. The main legal question in this case concerned Vattenfall's initiation of arbitration proceedings against Germany in accordance with UNCITRAL's arbitration rules, which are based on the Energy Charter Treaty. Vattenfall asserted that the ECT's protections against expropriation, umbrella clauses, and fair and equitable treatment were violated by Germany's activities. The arbitral tribunal rendered its ruling in October of 2016. The tribunal decided in Germany's favour, concluding that neither the fair and equitable treatment criterion nor any other provisions of the Energy Charter Treaty had been violated by the actions Germany took as part of its nuclear phase-out. The important findings in the case was that the governments have the policy space to regulate in the public interest was emphasised in the tribunal's decision, particularly when it came to issues pertaining to public safety and environmental preservation. The panel recognised the validity of Germany's nuclear phase-out as a reaction to public apprehensions regarding nuclear safety. The tribunal concluded that Germany had not violated the Energy Charter Treaty's requirement of fair and equitable treatment. [46]After taking into account the conditions surrounding the policy shift, it was determined that Germany's actions were neither discriminatory nor arbitrary and safeguarding the general welfare. The case made clear how crucial it is to strike a balance between state regulation authority and investor rights in order to safeguard the general welfare. The tribunal's ruling demonstrated its comprehension that safety or environmental regulations may not mandatorily create a investor and state liability.

  3. The Metalclad Corporation v. United Mexican States[47]: One prominent investment arbitration case involving the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is Metalclad Corporation v. United Mexican States. It involves the Mexican government and Metalclad Corporation, a waste management corporation based in the United States. The case concerned the denial of a municipal permit in the Mexican state of San Luis Potosi, specifically in the municipality of Guadalcazar, for the establishment of a hazardous waste landfill. In 1991, a Mexican company called Gersa was purchased by the American corporation Metalclad Corporation. A hazardous waste treatment plant owned by Gersa was situated in the Guadalcazar municipality. Building a hazardous waste dump next to the current location was Metalclad's attempt to grow its business. The business intended to store hazardous trash that was produced both locally and abroad. Metalclad was not granted a permit by the Guadalcazar municipal administration to construct the landfill due to possible environmental risks and inconsistencies with local land-use laws. The primary legal question in this case is whether Metalclad's argument that the permit was denied violated the NAFTA fair and equitable treatment criteria. The business argued that the refusal was unfair and arbitrary and that it had a right to expect to receive the permit. Additionally, Metalclad asserted that by depriving the company of the landfill project's economic worth, the permit denial amounted to an indirect expropriation of its investment. The matter was brought before an arbitral tribunal in accordance with Chapter 11 of the NAFTA. The tribunal concluded that Mexico had violated its NAFTA duties and decided in favour of Metalclad in 2000. According to the tribunal, the fair and equal treatment requirement was broken by the arbitrary and discriminatory denial of the municipal permit. Regarding expropriation, the tribunal determined that the refusal constituted a regulatory taking, resulting in Metalclad's investment losing its economic worth. Metalclad compensation was granted by the tribunal to offset the losses that resulted from the municipal permission being denied. Subsequent procedures were used to establish the compensation amount. This is a significant case in International Investment Law. It set standards for the fair and equitable treatment criteria is the Metalclad case. It emphasised how crucial it is to handle international investors equally and without bias. In investment arbitration, government measures that significantly deprive an investor of the economic worth of their investment may be regarded as indirect expropriation. The decision helped to clarify regulatory takings in this context. The Metalclad case brought to light possible conflicts between foreign investors' rights and environmental protection regulations. It stressed how important it is for nations to properly analyse and defend any regulations they enact that have an impact on foreign investments.
  4. Occidental Exploration and Production Company (Oxy) v. Republic of Ecuador:[48] With Ecuador, Occidental had signed a Production Sharing Contract (PSC) for the exploration and extraction of oil in Block 15, also referred to as the "Block 15 Contract." Ecuador terminated the Block 15 Contract in May 2006, claiming that Occidental had broken the agreement. Occidental transferred a 40% participating interest in the Block 15 Contract to a Canadian business without obtaining the necessary government approval, which led to the termination. Occidental filed for arbitration, alleging Ecuador had terminated the agreement improperly. The corporation claimed that Ecuador's actions amounted to a violation of the bilateral investment treaty (BIT) between the United States and Ecuador, and it sought reimbursement for the value of its assets. Occidental claimed that Ecuador had violated the U.S.-Ecuador Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT), which offered safeguards for American interests in Ecuador, by terminating the Block 15 Contract. Occidental claimed that the contract's termination without sufficient compensation amounted to an expropriatory measure and demanded restitution for the purported expropriation of its investment in Block 15. The International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) received the case, and in 2012 the arbitral tribunal rendered a ruling. The tribunal ruled in favour of Occidental, concluding that the U.S.-Ecuador BIT had been broken by Ecuador's termination of the Block 15 Contract. Ecuador was mandated to reimburse Occidental for the investment that was taken from it. As is customary in investment arbitration proceedings, the precise sum of compensation granted to Occidental was not made public. The sum is decided after accounting for lost income, the expropriated investment's valuation, and other pertinent variables.


Counterclaims under international investment law may provide a means of tipping the scales in favour of nations' domestic regulatory authority. States can use counterclaims to air their own issues against investors, which creates a more equitable resolution process. For [49]example, Uruguay's anti-smoking laws were challenged in the Philip Morris v. Uruguay lawsuit. Uruguay counterclaimed, claiming that Philip Morris was violating its sovereign right to safeguard public health. This illustrates how states might protect their regulatory independence through the use of counterclaims. Counterarguments can be effective, but not always. It is frequently argued that the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) process favours investors over other parties. These issues are addressed and reforms to ISDS are the focus of the UNCITRAL Working Group III deliberations[50]. However, because of the underlying power imbalance between states and investors, counterclaims can still run into difficulties. In summary, fundamental reforms in international investment law are necessary to provide a just and equitable settlement of disputes, even though counterclaims can help to rebalance the system. A closer look at UNCITRAL's current developments and a reference to instances such as Philip Morris v. Uruguay shed light on the dynamic changes in this intricate problem.

[1] Reisman, W. Michael, 'The Future of International Investment Law and Arbitration', in The Late Antonio Cassese (ed.), Realizing Utopia: The Future of International Law (Oxford, 2012; online edn, Oxford Academic, 20 Sept. 2012),, accessed 7 Jan. 2024.

[2] See weil, “Towards Relative Normativity in International Law?”, American Journal of International Law, 1983, p. 413 ff., p. 414.

[3] Convention on the Settlement of Investment Disputes between States and Nationals of Other States (“icsid Convention”), 18 March 1965, entered into force 14 October 1966.

[4] boyle, “Some Reflections on the Relationship of Treaties and Soft Law”, International and Comparative Law Quarterly, 1999, p. 901 ff.; pauwelyn, “Is It International Law or Not, And Does It Even Matter?”, in pauwelyn, wessel and wouters (eds.), Informal International Lawmaking, Oxford, 2012, p. 125 ff., pp. 153–157.

[5] Ex multis, see Art. 2(6) of the Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade of the World Trade Organization (“wto”), 15 April 1994, entered into force 1 January 1995, laying down a presumption of legitimacy under wto law for domestic regulations which are in accordance with relevant international standards.

[6] kaufman-Kohler, “Soft Law in International Arbitration: Codification and Normativity”, Journal of International Dispute Settlement, 2010, p. 1 ff., p. 6.

[7] schill, “Ordering Paradigms in International Investment Law: Bilateralism-Multilateralism-Multilateralization”, in douglas, pauwelyn and viñuales (eds.), The Foundations of International Investment Law: Bringing Theory into Practice, Cambridge, 2014, p. 109 ff., p. 122–129; grisel, “The Sources of Foreign Investment Law”, ibid., p. 213 ff., pp. 223–233.

[8] Farag, S.A. (2023), "“International arbitration in investment disputes” case study of Egypt", Review of Economics and Political Science, Vol. 8 No. 6, pp. 427-447.

[9]Jarrod Wong, Umbrella Clauses in Bilateral Investment Treaties: Of Breaches of Contract, Treaty Violations, and the Divide Between Developing and Developed Countries in Foreign Investment Disputes, 14 Geo. Mason L. Rev. 135, 142 - 43 (2006).

[10] For instance, according to Art. 44 of the icsid Convention, cit. supra note 2, if any question of procedure arises which is not covered by the Convention itself, the Arbitration Rules or any rules agreed by the parties, the Tribunal shall decide upon it. See also Rule 19 of the icsid Arbitration Rules (“The Tribunal shall make the orders required for the conduct of the proceeding”).

[11] fry and stampalija, “Forged Independence and Impartiality: Conflict of Interest of International Arbitrators in Investment Disputes”, Arbitration International, 2014, p. 89 ff.

[12] dumberry and dumas-Aubi, “When and How Allegations of Human Rights Violations can be Raised in Investor-State Arbitration”, Journal of World Investment and Trade, 2012, p. 349 ff., pp. 364–366. See also krajewski, “A Nightmare or a Noble Dream? Establishing Investor Obligations Through Treaty-Making and Treaty-Application”, Business and Human Rights Journal, 2020, p. 105 ff., p. 127.

[13] Alpha Projektholding GmbH v. Ukraine, icsid Case No. arb/07/16, Decision on Proposal for Disqualification of an Arbitrator of 19 March 2010, para. 66.

[14] See Highbury International avv, Compañía Minera de Bajo Caroní avv, and Ramstein Trading Inc. v. Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, icsid Case No. arb/14/10, Decision on the Proposal for Disqualification of Professor Brigitte Stern of 9 June 2005, paras. 78–79 (where, however, the unchallenged arbitrators underlined the high level of acceptance enjoyed by the iba Guidelines in international arbitration, including investment arbitration).

[15] Susan D. Franck, The Legitimacy Crisis in Investment Treaty Arbitration: Privatizing Public Law Through Inconsistent Decisions, 73 FordhamL. Rev. 1521, 1530-32 (2005) [hereinafter Franck, The legitimacy crises.

[16] Susan D. Franck, Foreign Direct Investment , Investment Treaty Arbitration , and the Rule of Law , 19 Pac McGeorge Global Bus. & Dev. L.J. 337, 338 (2007) [hereinafter Franck, Foreign

[17] kinnear and nitschke, “Disqualification of Arbitrators under the icsid Convention and Rules”, in giorgetti (ed.), Challenges and Recusals of Judges and Arbitrators in International Courts and Tribunals, Leiden, Boston, 2015, p. 34 ff., p. 51–60; cleis, The Independence and Impartiality of ICSID Arbitrators, Leiden, Boston, 2017, p. 31 ff.; malintoppi and yap, “Challenges of Arbitrators in Investment Arbitration. Still Work in Progress?”, in yannaca-Small (ed.), Arbitration Under International Investment Agreements: A Guide to the Key Issues, 2nd ed., Oxford, 2018, p. 152 ff., pp. 155–158.

[18] Black’s Law Dictionary defines counterclaim as “[a] claim presented by a defendant in opposition to or deduction from the claim of the plaintiff.” BLACK’S LAW DICTIONARY 349 (6th ed. 1990).


[20] See, e.g., Claims Settlement Declaration Art II, para. 1, 1 Iran-U.S. Cl. Trib. Rep. 9 (1983) (stating that counterclaims from the IUSCT should relate to the matter of the main claims); Commission on International Trade Law, G.A. Res. 31/98, art. 21.3 (Dec. 15, 1976) (as amended in 2010) (stating that counterclaims should be within the tribunal’s jurisdiction); ICSID ARBITRATION RULES, supra note 13, rule 40 (stating that counter claims must arise “directly out of the subject matter of the dispute”).

[21] Ana Vohryzek-Griest, State Counterclaims in Investor-State Disputes: A History of 30 Years of Failure, 15 INT’L L., REVISTA COLOMBIANA DE DERECHO INTERNACIONAL 83, 84 (2009) (“State counterclaims in investorState disputes always fail”).

[22] Jean Kalicki has noted that allowing counterclaims “may lead to efficiency, to the centralization of inquiry and the avoidance of duplication.” Kalicki, supra note 2, at 1. It may also avoid anti-suit injunctions, anti-anti-suit injunctions, and the like. Id. at 1–2.

[23] Waste Management, Inc. v. Mexico, ICSID Case No. ARB (AF)/98/2, Dissenting Opinion of Keith Highet, 2 June 2000, para. 58. Admissibility of evidence is an unrelated topic, see Nigel Blackaby and Constantine Partasides, Redfern and Hunter on International Arbitration (Oxford University Press, 2009) para. 6.89 et seq.

[24] Jurisdictional Immunities of the State (Germany v. Italy), Counterclaim, Order of 6 July 2010, ICJ Rep. 2010, 310, paras. 26–30 (Italian counterclaim inadmissible).

[25] Counterclaims have been submitted also with respect to environmental damages committed by the foreign investor, alleging the violation of domestic law, rather than of international law: see rudall, “The Tribunal with a Toolbox: On Perenco v Ecuador, Black Gold and Shades of Green”, Journal of International Dispute Settlement, 2020, p. 485 ff. Adherence to international environmental law was only hinted to in David R. Aven and Others v. Republic of Costa Rica, icsid Case No. unct/15/3, Award of 18 September 2018, para. 738, where the Tribunal did not discuss it for procedural reasons

[26] Christoph Schreuer, Loretta Malintoppi, August Reinisch and Anthony Sinclair (n. 66) Article 25, para. 76.

[27] Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards art. 1, June 10, 1958, 21 U.S.T. 2517, 2519, 330 U.N.T.S. 38.

[28] Charles N. Brower & Stephan W. Schill, Is Arbitration a Threat or a Boon to the Legitimacy of International Investment Law?, 9 Chi J. Int’l L 471, 476–78 (2009)

[29] Malaysian Historical Salvors v. Malaysia (n. 160) para. 123 (underlining in original). The annulment panel annulled the award on this point (n. 214).

[30] Monique Sasson, Substantive Law in Investment Treaty Arbitration: The Unsettled Relationship Between International Law and Municipal Law 194, 206–08 (2010); Emmanuel Gaillard & Yas Banifatemi, The Meaning of “and” in Article 42(1), Second Sentence, of the Washington Convention: The Role of International Law in the ICSID Choice of Law Process, 18 ICSID Rev. 375, 379–81 (2003); W. Michael

[31] Joy Mining v. Egypt (n. 200) para. 57.

[32] Christopher A. Whytock & Cassandra Burke Robertson, Forum Non Conveniens and the Enforcement of Foreign Judgments, 111 Colum. L. Rev. 1444, 1447–48 (2011); see also Lise Johnson, Case Note: How Chevron v. Ecuador is Pushing the Boundaries of Arbitral Authority, Investment Treaty News (Apr. 13, 2012)

[33] Gold Reserve Inc. v. Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, ICSID Case No. ARB(AF)/09/1

[34] Chevron Corporation and Texaco Petroleum Corporation v. Ecuador (II), PCA Case No. 2009-23

[35] Official Records of the General Assembly, Seventy-second Session, Supplement No. 17 (A/72/17), paras. 263 and 264.

[36] See News & Events, ICSID, [].

[37]Meetings and Events, UNCTAD, []

[38] U.N. Comm’n on Int’l Trade L., Rep. of Working Group III (InvestorState Dispute Settlement Reform) on the Work of Its Thirty-fourth Session, U.N. Doc. A/CN.9/930/Rev.1, ¶ 20 (2017) [hereinafter Report of Working Group III - 34th Session].

[39] See U.N. Comm’n on Int’l Trade L., Possible Reform of Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) Selection and Appointment of ISDS Tribunal Members, Note by the Secretariat, U.N. Doc. A/CN.9/WG.III/WP.169 (2019) [hereinafter Possible Reform of ISDS - Selection and Appointment] (noting that “disputing parties normally enjoy broad powers in the selection of arbitrators” and “the rules applicable in investor-State arbitration allow disputing parties to agree on the method to select the arbitrators and to agree directly upon their identity”).

[40] See U.N. Comm’n on Int’l Trade L., Possible Reform of Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) Background Information on a Code of Conduct, Note by the Secretariat, U.N. Doc. A/CN.9/WG.III/WP.167 (2019) (“At the thirty-fifth and thirty-sixth sessions of the [UNCITRAL] Working Group . . . it was suggested that measures enhancing confidence in the independence and impartiality of ISDS tribunal members would be in the interest of both States and investors”).

[41] U.N. Comm’n on Int’l Trade L., Report of Working Group III (InvestorState Dispute Settlement Reform) on the Work of Its Thirty-seventh Session (New York, 1–5 April 2019), U.N. Doc. A/CN.9/970, ¶ 34 (2019) [hereinafter Report of Working Group III - 37th Session] (noting the related issues of “obligations of investors (for example, in relation to human rights, the environment as well as to corporate social responsibility)” and “the question of allowing counterclaims by States as well as claims by third parties against investors”).

[42] Gleason T. Examining host-State counterclaims for environmental damage in investor-State dispute settlement from human rights and transnational public policy perspectives. Int Environ Agreem. 2021;21(3):427-444. doi: 10.1007/s10784-020-09519-y. Epub 2020 Dec 14. PMID: 33343266; PMCID: PMC7734455.

[43] Philip Morris Brands Sàrl, Philip Morris Products S.A. and Abal Hermanos S.A. v. Oriental Republic of Uruguay, ICSID Case No. ARB/10/7

[44] Giovanni Zarra, ‘The Issue of Incoherence in Investment Arbitration: Is There Need for a Systemic Reform?’ (CJIL) 17 (1)

[45] Vattenfall AB and others v. Federal Republic of Germany, ICSID Case No. ARB/12/12.

[46] Carvosso, Rhys, ‘The Role of Disasters in Investment Arbitration’, Yearbook of International Disaster Law Online 3, 1 (2022): 374-404, doi:

[47] Metalclad Corporation v. The United Mexican States, ICSID Case No. ARB(AF)/97/1

[48] The Occidental Exploration and Production Company (Oxy) v. Republic of Ecuador ICSID Case No. ARB/06/11.

[49] William Burke-White and Andreas von Staden, ‘Investment Protection in Extraordinary Times: The Interpretation and Application of Non-Precluded Measures Provisions in Bilateral Investment Treaties’ (2007) 48 Virginia Journal of International Law 307.

[50] Anna Bilanova, ‘Environmental Counterclaims in Investment Arbitration’ (2020) 5 European Investment Law and Arbitration Review, 400.

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