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GAR 100 - 10th Edition

Todd Weiler

02 March 2017

Busy with treaty claims against Laos, Costa Rica and Egypt

Pending cases as counsel 5+
Value of pending counsel work US$865 million
Treaty cases 5+

Todd Weiler is an investment treaty arbitration specialist based in London, Ontario.

His background is in public policy and international trade. He worked as a trade policy analyst for the Canadian government before being lured away by Barry Appleton to assist him on some of the earliest NAFTA cases against Canada.

Weiler founded a website devoted to NAFTA claims in 1999, and began acting on behalf of other law firms in an independent capacity. He is regarded as an authority on investment treaty law and still gets instructions despite the proliferation of firms with dedicated practices in this area.

He primarily serves as co-counsel or consulting counsel in treaty disputes, teaming up with other practitioners case by case. He also sits as an arbitrator and publishes widely in the field. He has edited more than a dozen books and authored more than 60 academic articles and book chapters. The Interpretation of International Investment Law, which was published in 2013, earned him a doctorate from the University of Michigan.

In 2006, he founded the annual Juris Conference on investment law and arbitration in Washington, DC. He continues to co-chair the event with Crowell & Moring’s Ian Laird. With Laird, he also co-founded and runs the popular website investmentclaims.com, which they now manage for Oxford University Press.

He is one of the co-founders of the Society of International Economic Law and was one of the four practitioners chosen by Thomas Wälde’s widow to ensure his legacy projects, OGEMID and TDM, would be maintained and grow.

Who uses him?

Weiler has acted in cases involving Barbados, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Egypt, Laos, Mexico. Mongolia and Peru, as well as on a claim brought by indigenous tobacco producers against the United States. He has teamed up with the likes of Debevoise & Plimpton, Vinson & Elkins, Dentons and Fasken Martineau.

He’s lately been acting for two US-owned gaming companies in a protracted dispute with the government of Laos (see ‘Recent events’) and a family of cotton investors in an ICSID claim against Egypt. Canada’s Vanoil Energy is another client in a contract claim against Kenya.

Weiler also acts for non-disputing parties in investor-state cases. He represented the Native American Quechan Nation, which was accorded a privileged position in a NAFTA dispute between Glamis Gold and the US over the Nation’s traditional lands. Another client was an international NGO that helped Uruguay to fend off an ICSID claim brought by Phillip Morris over the state’s tobacco packaging legislation.

Track record

One of his biggest successes came in Siag & Vecchi v Egypt, which produced an US$132 million ICSID award for the claimant in 2009. Weiler, who started acting for Siag following a referral from a previous client, auditioned law firms on the businessman’s behalf. After settling on a team from King & Spalding, he continued to advise in the background all the way through to the final award.

Weiler was also part of the team that won the first damages award against Canada in SD Myers v Canada, in which the tribunal awarded damages not only for harm caused to the investment in Canadian territory, but also for losses the investor suffered in the US.

Recent events

Together with Debevoise & Plimpton, Weiler continues to advise gaming companies owned by US businessman John Baldwin in a billion-dollar dispute with Laos that has been playing out on several fronts. In 2016, the client filed a new ICSID claim and applied to revive an older claim on the grounds that Laos was in material breach of a 2014 settlement deal. At the same time, a parallel UNCITRAL claim is back in play after the Singapore Court of Appeal held that China’s bilateral investment treaty with Laos does protect investors in Macao, a former Portuguese colony that only became part of China after the BIT was signed.  

There was a disappointing result in a DR-CAFTA case that Weiler is bringing (together with Fasken Martineau) against Costa Rica on behalf of a group of US investors in beachfront property. A tribunal ruled in 2016 that it had no jurisdiction over more than half of the claims. The investors have since applied to a US court to set aside the ruling.