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1 Jun 2021

Patricia Ranald,
The Guardian,

A clause in the UK-Australia trade deal could let companies sue governments. We have been here before.

'A clause in the UK-Australia trade deal could let companies sue governments. We have been here before.', 01 June 2021

"The British trade minister has confirmed that corporate rights to sue governments are being discussed in the final negotiations for the Australia-UK free trade agreement before an announcement at the G7 meeting in the UK on 11 June.

The agreement is part of the post-Brexit rush by the UK to conclude deals to make up for its loss of zero tariff access to the huge European market. It’s therefore puzzling that the UK appears to be promoting, and that Australia may agree to, investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) provisions which are likely to fuel community opposition to the deal in both Australia and the UK.

All trade agreements have state-to state-dispute processes. ISDS is an optional extra only included in some bilateral and regional trade agreements. ISDS began when former colonies became independent and provided compensation to companies if their assets were expropriated. But the system has developed concepts like “indirect expropriation”, “legitimate expectations” and “fair and equitable treatment”, which allow corporations to seek compensation by claiming that regulatory changes reduce the value of their investment and/or that they were not fairly consulted about the change..."

Part of the following timelines

Investor-State Dispute Settlement

UK-Australia trade deal signed