The Rise of Environmental Counterclaims in Mining Arbitration
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Increased foreign direct investment by multinational mining companies has given rise to a growing number of international arbitration claims, both contract and investment treaty based. Many of these have at least some connection to the environment. Investors regularly invoke violations of the fair and equitable treatment standard or claim an indirect expropriation on the basis of a state’s adoption or enforcement of environmental regulations. Meanwhile, in a number of recent investment arbitrations – including in several mining disputes – states, too, have asserted counterclaims relating to the environment against investors. This seems to be indicative of a broader trend in states (1) asserting counterclaims more frequently in investment arbitration and (2) negotiating new treaties that may be more amenable to both counterclaims and environmental interests.
While historically states have alleged environmental violations as a defence in the mining context, it is becoming increasingly common for states to use these same environmental violations as a basis for a counterclaim. This growing number of state-asserted counterclaims in the mining context is part of a more general increase in state-asserted counterclaims in investment treaty arbitrations overall. Still, as the number of such counterclaims grows, very few have succeeded. More often than not, they are rejected on jurisdictional or admissibility grounds. Tribunals have struggled to find consent to arbitrate counterclaims in investment treaty language, particularly in the case of counterclaims that are not directly related to the investor’s claims. The very few counterclaims that proceed on the merits are usually rejected because tribunals find that the particular treaty does not create a substantive cause of action for a state.
As treaties are often silent regarding the assertion of counterclaims, the customary practice of investment arbitration tribunals has provided the parameters for state-asserted counterclaims. There are three preliminary requirements for a counterclaim to be entertained on the merits. First, the investment instrument – whether an investment treaty or an investment agreement negotiated directly between the investor and the state – must provide consent to arbitrate counterclaims. Second, the investment instrument must provide a cause of action for the relevant counterclaim. Third, the claim must meet other procedural and substantive requirements, often arising from the governing arbitration rules.
State negotiators are actively engaged in drafting free trade agreements (FTAs), bilateral investment treaties (BITs) and other investment instruments that may change these tribunal-constructed parameters and make environmental counterclaims a strategic reality for states. Some new treaties squarely address counterclaims. Many of these treaties also acknowledge the states’ right to regulate in the public interest, as well as recognising that a range of environmental and social impacts may arise from foreign direct investment (thus potentially creating causes of action that states can assert against investors). Many of these treaties have yet to enter into force so no case law interpreting them yet exists. Therefore, it remains to be seen whether these new treaty provisions will permit state-asserted counterclaims to meet jurisdictional and admissibility requirements, whether more environmental counterclaims will proceed on the merits, and whether any could lead to a state recovering damages on its counterclaim.
This chapter addresses state-asserted counterclaims in the investment treaty context. In particular, we examine the potential for environmental counterclaims in mining arbitrations asserted under an investment treaty. We do not address counterclaims asserted solely in the commercial context or pursuant only to investment agreements. Nor do we address claims initiated by states pursuant to investment treaties.
We first analyse how investment treaty tribunals have struggled to find consent to state-asserted counterclaims in treaties with vague or imprecise language, and then we discuss how some new treaties address this issue head on. We then examine how states have sought to articulate a cause of action when treaties stop short of imposing express obligations on investors and survey new treaty provisions that may give rise to more colourable causes of action. We examine some requirements and challenges that arise from institutional rules, and briefly discuss how negotiators are now incorporating these requirements into express treaty terms. Finally, we conclude with general observations about the future of environmental counterclaims in this new treaty landscape.
A changing panorama: from implied to express consent
In most investment disputes, the scope of the parties’ consent for purposes of jurisdiction – including whether the parties have consented to arbitrate counterclaims – is determined by the host state’s offer to arbitrate (usually contained in a treaty). While some tribunals have interpreted an investor’s submission of a dispute to International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) or under the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) Rules as sufficient to determine consent to state-asserted counterclaims, in this section we focus solely on how tribunals have analysed consent that arises from the investment treaty and how treaty negotiators are addressing consent to arbitrate counterclaims in a new breed of treaties.
When an investor files an investment dispute against a host state, the investor accepts the state’s standing offer to arbitrate on the same terms contained in the offer. As a result, states unilaterally control the scope of consent. If the state offers its consent to arbitrate disputes including counterclaims, then the investor through its acceptance also consents to arbitrate counterclaims.
Despite state control of the scope of consent, consent has historically been the most significant barrier to counterclaim jurisdiction in investment arbitration. This is because investment treaties historically focused on giving investors the right to seek a remedy in an international forum, as a means to attract investment, so consent to counterclaims was not expressly contemplated. Under these treaties, consent to arbitrate counterclaims exists implicitly or not at all. Some newly negotiated treaties now include express consent to counterclaims. This express consent is, however, often limited in scope. In this section, we first discuss treaty language from which tribunals have interpreted implied consent in the past, and then we explore recent BITs and FTAs that expressly include consent to arbitrate state-asserted counterclaims.
Implied consent to arbitrate counterclaims
Investment tribunals historically have interpreted implied consent to arbitrate counterclaims on the basis of vague language or broad dispute resolution clauses in investment treaties. These tribunals have noted that a number of linguistic formulations provide implicit consent to arbitrate counterclaims, either because they exclude counterclaims under particular, defined circumstances, or because they broadly consent to arbitration of ‘any’ or ‘all’ disputes.
Implied consent to arbitrate some counterclaims by excluding others
Many treaties, while not expressly permitting the assertion of counterclaims, do appear to envision them generally by excluding counterclaims in specific circumstances. A common provision in BITs and FTAs prohibits counterclaims in one very limited situation: where a state attempts to invoke an investor’s ability to receive indemnification or compensation for a claim under an insurance policy or guarantee contract. Based on basic canons of treaty construction, the exclusion of this single type of counterclaim would appear to allow for all other types of counterclaims.
This was the case in Aven v. Costa Rica, where ‘the only provision [of the Dominican Republic–Central America FTA (DR–CAFTA)] referring to “counterclaims”’ provided:
A respondent may not assert as a defense, counterclaim, right of set-off, or for any other reason that the claimant has received or will receive indemnification or other compensation for all or part of the alleged damages pursuant to an insurance or guarantee contract.
The Aven tribunal found that this language meant that counterclaims were, in principle, contemplated by the DR–CAFTA and were therefore within the scope of the parties’ consent:
It follows that, except for a counterclaim by a respondent State alleging that ‘claimant has received or will receive indemnification or other compensation for all or part of the alleged damages pursuant to an insurance or guarantee contract,’ Respondent’s right to counterclaim under the Treaty is contemplated and falls within the scope of jurisdiction of a tribunal constituted under the Treaty.
In Kappes v. Guatemala, Guatemala has used the Aven award to support its assertion of an environmental counterclaim in an investment dispute also brought pursuant to DR–CAFTA. Guatemala seeks US$2 million for environmental remediation of a mining project, which the claimant asserts was expropriated by the state. This arbitration was still pending at the time of writing, so it remains to be seen how the tribunal will address the various questions relating to the state-asserted counterclaim.
Treaty negotiators continue to insert provisions prohibiting states from invoking an investor’s ability to receive indemnification or compensation for a claim under an insurance policy or guarantee contract in current investment treaties. For example, the Argentina–Japan BIT, signed in 2018, includes nearly identical language to the DR–CAFTA. Interestingly, the 2013 Kuwait–Singapore BIT contains the same prohibition, but implicitly contemplates counterclaims otherwise, noting that:
[i]n any proceeding under this Article, any counterclaim or right of set-off may not be based on the fact that the investor concerned has received or will receive, pursuant to an insurance contract, indemnification or other compensation for all or part of its alleged damages from any third party whomsoever, whether public or private, including such other Contract Party and its subdivisions, agencies or instrumentalities.
This provision appears to permit any counterclaim or right of set-off to be asserted, provided that it is not based on the investor’s right to receive indemnification under an insurance contract or otherwise. Provisions including this broad language may provide an even clearer path to a state-asserted counterclaim than the language of DR–CAFTA that paved the way for consent in Aven.
Consent to arbitrate ‘any’ or ‘all’ disputes
Meanwhile, many investment treaties provide broadly for arbitration of ‘all’ or ‘any’ investment disputes, without distinguishing between claims and counterclaims. Absent other limitations in these clauses, tribunals frequently find that they implicitly permit counterclaims. For example, in Saluka v. Czech Republic, the tribunal found that Article 8 of the Czech–Netherlands BIT, consenting to arbitrate ‘all disputes . . . concerning an investment’, authorised arbitration of counterclaims in principle. However, without more, this language often leads to confusion as to whether treaty drafters intended to include consent to state-asserted counterclaims.
No consent to arbitrate counterclaims
Many tribunals have interpreted certain treaty language that imposes limitations on the scope of arbitral disputes as prohibiting counterclaims entirely. For example, some seemingly broad clauses that permit the submission of ‘any’ or ‘all’ disputes to arbitration only contemplate submission by an investor. The Canada–Venezuela BIT provides for arbitration of ‘any dispute’, but only provides that ‘an investor may submit a dispute’ to arbitration. The tribunal in Rusoro v. Venezuela interpreted this language as providing standing to investors only (i.e., it did not permit a state to assert a counterclaim). Similarly, in Karkey v. Pakistan, the tribunal found that the Pakistan–Turkey BIT contemplated only the investor submitting a dispute to arbitration and choosing the relevant arbitral institution. As a result, the tribunal found no consent to arbitrate counterclaims submitted by the host state.
One very clear example of a prohibition on counterclaims was found recently in Anglo-American PLC v. Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. There, the UK–Venezuela BIT provided:
[t]he jurisdiction of the arbitral tribunal shall be limited to determining whether there has been a breach by the Contracting Party concerned of any of its obligations under this Agreement, whether such breach of its obligations has caused damage to the national or company concerned, and, if such is the case, the amount of compensation.
The tribunal found that this language imposed clear limitations on the tribunal’s jurisdiction and excluded the possibility of counterclaims.
What’s new? Express consent to arbitrate counterclaims
Burlington v. Ecuador, although it did not arise in the mining context, is the only public award in which a tribunal has analysed an express agreement to arbitrate a state-asserted counterclaim. The consent was based on a post-dispute agreement between the parties, however, not on the language of an investment treaty. In the companion case of Perenco v. Ecuador, Perenco (Burlington’s consortium partner) did not expressly consent to arbitrate the state-asserted counterclaim. Nonetheless, the tribunal rejected Perenco’s objections to the counterclaim, noting that Perenco had delayed in raising them. In some new investment treaties, drafters and negotiators have incorporated consent to arbitrate state-asserted counterclaims. However, to our knowledge, no reported decision has yet considered an investment treaty provision that expressly permits counterclaims.
Providing for express consent
Several new BITs and FTAs expressly permit state-asserted counterclaims. Some examples are the 2018 Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), the 2007 Investment Agreement for the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) Common Investment Area, the 2018 Argentina–UAE BIT and the 2016 Slovak Republic–Iran BIT. Each of these expressly envisions, and permits, state-asserted counterclaims. For example, the Argentina–UAE BIT provides that ‘the respondent may submit a counterclaim directly related with the dispute’. Similarly, the Slovak Republic–Iran BIT notes that the respondent ‘may . . . assert . . . [a] counterclaim’. And the CPTPP provides that ‘the respondent may make a counterclaim’. Thus, at least in terms of consent, these treaties provide a much clearer path for a state to assert a counterclaim.
Limiting the consent
Notably, while these treaties clearly allow counterclaims, they limit their subject matter. The limitations take two broad forms: (1) in some treaties, the counterclaim must be directly related with the dispute raised by the investor; and (2) in others, the counterclaim must be based on an investor’s failure to comply with the investment treaty, including a failure to comply with host state laws.
Incorporating a connectedness requirement
Both the CPTPP and the Argentina–UAE BIT incorporate a ‘connectedness’ requirement into the consent to a counterclaim. The Argentina–UAE BIT only permits a counterclaim that is ‘directly related with the dispute’. Ultimately, this language will lead to several treaty interpretation issues. What does ‘directly related’ mean? How ‘direct’ must the relation be? And if an investor has employed creative pleading to block a state from asserting a counterclaim, can the standard be relaxed?
The CPTPP incorporates a more permissive ‘connectedness’ requirement. Article 9.19.2 establishes that, in response to certain investor claims, ‘the respondent may make a counterclaim in connection with the factual and legal basis of the claim’. Again, this provision may give rise to several treaty interpretation issues. What does ‘in connection with’ mean? Is this a lower standard than ‘directly’ connected? And does the counterclaim have to have both a factual and legal connection to a claim, or could it be one or the other?
Limiting counterclaims to violations of host state law
The 2016 Slovak Republic–Iran BIT also limits the subject matter of counterclaims, by establishing that ‘[t]he respondent may assert as a defense, counterclaim, right of set off or other similar claim that the claimant has not fulfilled its obligations under this Agreement to comply with Host State law or that it has not taken all reasonable steps to mitigate possible damages’. This language, which permits the assertion of a counterclaim for any violation of host state law that also constitutes a breach of the BIT, could give rise to a broader range of counterclaims than the language in the Argentina–UAE BIT. The Slovak Republic–Iran BIT appears to allow a state to assert a counterclaim on the basis of a failure to comply with environmental laws or regulations, even if an investor’s claims have no connection to environmental issues. But how this limitation will be interpreted in the context of the governing arbitration rules and tribunal practice, remains to be seen.
The next step: creating a cause of action
Even where a tribunal finds that a treaty provides consent to state-asserted counterclaims, the respondent cannot prevail unless the treaty also provides a cause of action for the particular counterclaim. Few tribunals have found that a cause of action exists for counterclaims under an investment treaty. This is because investment treaties have traditionally protected the rights of investors by imposing international obligations on states; they did not historically impose reciprocal obligations on investors. However, in several relatively recent arbitrations, tribunals found that the treaty incorporated domestic and international law obligations to provide a cause of action. Moreover, treaty negotiators have taken steps to reference such domestic and international law obligations in the text of investment treaties, perhaps in the hope of incorporating them as treaty obligations incumbent on foreign investors.
In this section, we first discuss counterclaims based on violations of host state law, and the support for these causes of action in newer treaties and then we explore counterclaims based on international obligations, and how these obligations are being incorporated into treaties.
Breach of domestic law
Incorporating domestic law into investment treaties
In the context of state-asserted counterclaims, tribunals have historically found that they can only adjudicate causes of action arising under the treaty in question. For example, in Rusoro v. Venezuela, Venezuela counterclaimed that Rusoro Mining had breached its mining plan for the gold mine it operated, resulting in damage to Venezuelan resources and increased costs for future operation of the mine by the state. The tribunal found that if Rusoro had any obligation to comply with the mine plan, the obligation arose pursuant to Venezuelan law and not under the Canada–Venezuela BIT. And nothing in the BIT gave the tribunal authority to adjudicate a cause of action arising under Venezuelan law.
As a result, the traditional thinking has been that ‘the arbitration agreement should refer to disputes that can also be brought under domestic law for counterclaims to be within the tribunal’s jurisdiction’. Multiple tribunals have suggested that a state could only assert a counterclaim based upon domestic law if the treaty incorporated some sort of umbrella clause raising an investor’s breaches of contractual or domestic law obligations to the level of international law obligations.
From a state’s perspective, language in newer treaties may solve the problem that Venezuela faced in Rusoro. For example, the 2016 Slovak Republic–Iran BIT, discussed above, expressly permits a state to assert a counterclaim based on a violation of the investor’s ‘obligations under this Agreement to comply with Host State law’. Thus, while this treaty does not impose express obligations on an investor, its counterclaim consent provision could create a potential cause of action for a violation of host state law.
Acknowledging a state’s right to regulate
Nonetheless, in at least one instance, a tribunal found that treaty language supported a counterclaim based on a violation of host state law. In Aven v. Costa Rica, the tribunal found that language protecting the state’s right to regulate and enforce measures in the interest of the environment imposed treaty obligations on investors.
The DR–CAFTA investment chapter at issue in Aven provides:
Nothing in this Chapter shall be construed to prevent a Party from adopting, maintaining or enforcing any measure otherwise consistent with this Chapter that it considers appropriate to ensure that investment activity in its territory is undertaken in a manner sensitive to environmental concerns.
The Aven tribunal interpreted this language to incorporate the state’s domestic environmental measures into the treaty. The tribunal found that any investor who ignored or breached the state’s environmental measures would violate ‘both domestic and international law’. As a result, while the DR–CAFTA did not impose any express affirmative obligation on investors to protect the ecology of the host state, the tribunal found it could elevate breach of domestic environmental regulations to a treaty breach, forming the cause of action for a counterclaim.
Although the standard may differ slightly, many new investment treaties include the same, or similar, language. For example, the 2018 Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement between the European Free Trade Association States and the Republic of Ecuador provides that ‘nothing in this Chapter shall be construed to prevent a Party from imposing maintaining or enforcing measures . . . necessary to protect human, animal or plant life or health’. The 2016 Hong Kong–Chile BIT includes similar language.
However, the award in Aven suggests that a state likely could make a convincing argument that asserting a counterclaim based on the violation of an environmental measure is one way of ‘enforcing’ that measure. Of course, there are also convincing arguments to the contrary. These arguments will centre around treaty interpretation issues. What did the treaty drafters mean by ‘enforcing’ a measure? Does the assertion of a counterclaim based on a violation of the ‘measure’ constitute ‘enforcing’ it? If the state has other means (and is employing them) to enforce the measure, is it also permissible to assert a counterclaim in international arbitration on the same basis? And ultimately, did treaty drafters intend to give states a substantive cause of action by including this provision? Given the variations in the treaty landscape, tribunals likely will need to examine these questions anew.
Similar to domestic law, international obligations arising under international instruments external to the investment treaty cannot provide a cause of action against an investor, unless they are incorporated into the applicable treaty explicitly or by reference. However, the majority of international law instruments applicable to corporations are non-binding and voluntary. As the tribunal in Urbaser v. Argentina noted, the voluntary nature of these instruments makes it difficult to point to affirmative obligations that can serve as a basis for a treaty-based counterclaim. Analysing a counterclaim alleging that Urbaser denied Argentine citizens the human right to water by failing to adequately furnish drinking water and sewage services, the Urbaser tribunal noted that instruments such as the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the 1966 International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights recognise human rights to water and sanitation as a matter of customary international law. But even as these instruments recognise that people have certain rights, they do not impose affirmative obligations on private parties to promote or implement those rights. At most, these instruments impose a prohibition ‘not to engage in activity aimed at destroying such rights’. Even when a state party assumes an obligation under international law to protect and promote environmental or human rights, that obligation is not transferred to foreign investors operating in that state by virtue of an investment treaty.
However, in the changing treaty landscape, these voluntary standards and guidelines are now appearing in investment treaty provisions. These provisions mostly fall within the rubric of corporate social responsibility (CSR). Generally, CSR provisions are understood to include internationally recognised guidelines for business and investment that address the environment, human rights, community relations and labour issues, and are embodied in instruments such as the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. In the mining context, CSR instruments set out guidelines for businesses that are aimed at protecting and managing the environment and undertaking sustainable development.
For example, the Hong Kong–Chile BIT provides that:
The Parties reaffirm the importance of each Party encouraging enterprises operation within its area to voluntarily incorporate into their internal policies those internationally recognised standards, guidelines and principles of corporate social responsibility that have been endorsed or are supported by that Party.
The Benin–Canada BIT (based on the Canadian model BIT) has similar language. All of these treaties stop short of imposing direct obligations on investors. They recognise the importance of CSR by agreeing to ‘encourage’ businesses to adopt these principles. And adoption is voluntary. Commentators have noted that these provisions, on their own, may be unenforceable. Stated in aspirational language, they lack the mandatory nature of many treaty provisions. Nonetheless, in the mining context, they may create a cause of action for states asserting environmental counterclaims.
There are several ways in which a state may impose CSR standards on a mining project. A state may incorporate these standards as regulations, or could expressly add them to a mining licence. Indeed, many investors themselves voluntarily may include CSR standards in documents they submit to a state to gain approval for exploration or production. Another possible way these provisions may be incorporated is through concessions or other agreements with state entities.
The ‘double incorporation’ of these standards could give rise to a counterclaim. If these CSR standards are echoed (in more mandatory terms) in a licence, or an internal regulation, then a state may choose to assert a counterclaim on the basis of an investor’s failure to comply with these standards. While the treaty language is only aspirational, a tribunal is unlikely to ignore the fact that the treaty drafters expressly included these CSR provisions. This situation is far different from that in Urbaser where the treaty was entirely silent as to these issues. It remains to be seen how tribunals will interpret these aspirational provisions – and whether they may create a cause of action that permits a state-asserted counterclaim to succeed on the merits.
Incorporating other substantive and procedural requirements in investment treaties
Finally, for a tribunal to entertain a counterclaim, the counterclaim must comply with other substantive and procedural requirements, often arising from the relevant arbitration rules. Both ICSID and non-ICSID arbitration regimes provide a pathway to admit counterclaims, so long as they fall within the scope of the parties’ consent and are connected to the primary claim or investment. Nonetheless, counterclaims are frequently rejected for failure to meet the pleading requirements of the relevant arbitration rules, or because the state is not the damaged party and therefore lacks proper standing to raise the counterclaim. We address each of these issues briefly below and outline how treaty negotiators appear to take them into account in new treaty language. We analyse how treaties address what has historically been seen as an admissibility requirement. We then discuss counterclaim pleading requirements and how treaties incorporate them. Finally, we discuss standing requirements for the assertion of counterclaims, and options provided in new treaties.
Admissibility of counterclaims
Under the ICSID regime, both the ICSID Convention and the Arbitration Rules provide a pathway for counterclaims, so long as they arise ‘directly out of the subject matter of the dispute provided that they are within the scope of consent of the parties and are otherwise within the jurisdiction of the Centre’. Meanwhile, the UNCITRAL Rules acknowledge the possibility of counterclaims, provided they ‘arise out of the same contract’ as the primary claim.
As a result, regardless of which institutional rules apply, there typically must be a direct nexus between the counterclaim and the investor’s primary claims (the ‘subject matter of the dispute’). Historically, this has been interpreted by tribunals as an admissibility requirement.
As discussed above, many of the treaties that now include express consent to counterclaims also incorporate a connectedness requirement into that consent. The Argentina–UAE BIT, for example, only permits a counterclaim that is ‘directly related with the dispute’. The inclusion of an express requirement that a counterclaim be directly related to the investor’s claims could elevate the ‘connectedness’ requirement to an issue of consent under the investment treaty – and therefore a question of jurisdiction – rather than one of admissibility.
On a number of occasions, tribunals have found that a counterclaim that otherwise falls within their jurisdiction is inadmissible because it fails to meet the pleading requirements of the relevant arbitration rules. In Aven v. Costa Rica, the tribunal found that the dispute resolution language in the DR–CAFTA was broad enough to permit adjudication of counterclaims in principle, but the state lost its ability to raise them because it failed to comply with the pleading requirements of Articles 20.2 and 20.4 of the UNCITRAL Rules (2010). The tribunal in Hamester v. Ghana reached a similar conclusion under the ICSID Rules, finding that although the treaty provided consent in principle to counterclaims, the respondent failed to adequately particularise its counterclaims.
Finally, another common question is whether the state is the correct party to assert a counterclaim, particularly counterclaims relating to human rights and environmental protections. Most notably, the tribunal in Chevron v. Ecuador II rejected environmental counterclaims raised by Ecuador on the basis that the proper parties to bring those claims were the individuals who suffered harm as a result of the environmental damage. Standing also served as the basis for rejecting the state’s mining-related counterclaims in Tethyan Copper Company v. Pakistan. In that case, Pakistan asserted counterclaims for breach of an investment agreement entered into by the autonomous province of Balochistan, and breach of Balochistan’s mining regulations. The tribunal explained the asymmetry of attribution under these circumstances, noting that ‘[w]hile Balochistan’s actions can be attributed to Respondent pursuant to the [International Law Commission] Articles for the purposes of Treaty claims, i.e., claims under international law, such attribution does not apply for non-Treaty claims under domestic law’. As a result, Pakistan lacked standing to invoke breaches of a contract entered into by Balochistan or violations of domestic law enacted by Balochistan.
Newer treaties do not address this issue, as it typically must be analysed in the context of a particular dispute.
Despite the efforts of some treaty negotiators to make environmental counterclaims expressly available to states, the treaty landscape continues to be a patchwork of provisions that will leave the many players involved in investor–state dispute settlement guessing. It is unclear if these new treaty provisions will change tribunal practice in interpreting the requirements for the assertion of a counterclaim. While treaties that expressly permit counterclaims address consent head on, they often leave open important issues, such as the creation of a cause of action.
For greater clarity, states may find it helpful to negotiate investment agreements directly with investors that address the issues that may arise in the event of a dispute. Indeed, for better or worse, many countries are now opting for regimes that solely recognise international arbitration claims brought under investment agreements. Brazil, a country rich in mining resources, has long done so. And Ecuador, with a nascent mining sector, has recently withdrawn from its investment treaties and passed a law encouraging the negotiation of investment contracts for foreign direct investment projects. In both Burlington and Perenco, Ecuador succeeded in environmental counterclaims based on an investment agreement it executed with the two consortium partners. Given the experience of Burlington and Perenco, some investors may be wary to enter into such agreements. But as the treaty landscape changes, they may nonetheless find some comfort in the predictability of the terms of an investment agreement.
1 Yasmine Lahlou is a partner and Rainbow Willard is a counsel at Chaffetz Lindsey LLP. The authors would like to thank Alicia Yeo for her indispensable assistance in preparing the updated version of this chapter.
2 See, e.g., Glamis Gold, Ltd. v. United States of America, UNCITRAL, Award, 8 June 2009 (concerning a gold mining investment in the United States); Sergei Paushok et al. v. The Government of Mongolia, UNCITRAL, Award, 28 April 2011 (concerning a gold mining investment in Mongolia); Rusoro Mining Limited v. The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, ICSID Case No. ARB(AF)/12/5, Award, 22 August 2016 (concerning a gold mining investment in Venezuela); Bear Creek Mining Corporation v. Republic of Peru, ICSID Case No. ARB/14/21, Award, 30 November 2017 (concerning a silver mining investment in Peru); South American Silver Limited v. The Plurinational State of Bolivia, PCA Case No. 2013-14, UNCITRAL, Award, 22 November 2018 (concerning a silver mining investment in Bolivia); Pan African Burkina Limited et al. v. Burkina Faso (ICC) (discussed in Cosmo Sanderson, ‘ICC panel dismisses claim against Burkina Faso’, Global Arbitration Review, 13 March 2019) (concerning a manganese mining investment in Burkina Faso).
3 See K Gordon and J Pohl, ‘Environmental Concerns in International Investment Agreements: A Survey’, OECD Working Papers on International Investment, 2011, p. 6.
4 See, e.g., Glamis Gold v. United States, Award (concerning claims that denial of gold mining permits for environmental and cultural reasons breached the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) standards of treatment).
5 See, e.g., Tethyan Copper Company Pty Limited v. Islamic Republic of Pakistan, ICSID Case No. ARB/12/1, Decision on Jurisdiction and Liability, 10 November 2017 (counterclaiming for violations of local mining regulations and the joint-venture contract); Daniel W. Kappes and Kappes, Cassiday & Associates v. Republic of Guatemala, ICSID Case No. ARB/18/43, Guatemala’s Counter-Memorial, 7 December 2020 (raising a counterclaim for environmental remediation on the basis that claimants had violated Guatemalan law and were likely to abandon the mining project); Paushok v. Mongolia, Award (counterclaiming that the claimants violated their environmental obligations under gold-mining licences); Rusoro v. Venezuela, Award (raising environmental protections in the gold-mining sector as both a defence on the merits and a counterclaim). See also Burlington Resources Inc. v. Republic of Ecuador, ICSID Case No. ARB/08/5, Decision on Counterclaims, 7 February 2017 (awarding damages to the respondent on the basis of its environmental counterclaim); Perenco Ecuador Ltd. v. Republic of Ecuador and Empresa Estatal Petróleos del Ecuador (Petroecuador), ICSID Case No. ARB/08/6, Interim Decision on the Environmental Counterclaim, 11 August 2015 (upholding the respondent’s counterclaim for environmental damage); David Aven et al. v. The Republic of Costa Rica, UNCITRAL Case No. UNCT/15/3, Final Award, 18 September 2018 (finding that an environmental counterclaim was available but inadequately pled under the Dominican Republic–Central America Free Trade Agreement (DR–CAFTA)).
6 Urbaser SA and Consorcio de Aguas Bilbao Bizkaia, Bilbao Bishkaia Ur Partzuergoa v. The Argentine Republic, ICSID Case No. ARB/07/26, Award, 8 December 2016; Anglo-American PLC v. Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, ICSID Case No. ARB(AF)/14/1, Award, 18 January 2019; Burlington v. Ecuador, Decision on Counterclaims; Aven v. Costa Rica, Final Award.
7 Burlington v. Ecuador and the companion case of Perenco v. Ecuador are the only instances we know of where a state succeeded on its counterclaim on the merits and won damages against the investor. In both of these cases, the investors asserted claims pursuant to the applicable investment treaty as well as under investment agreements or concession contracts. The counterclaims were largely decided on the basis of provisions contained in the contracts.
8 See Zachary Douglas, The International Law of Investment Claims (Oxford University Press 2009), ¶ 496 et seq. (discussing the requirement imposed by both ICSID and UNCITRAL tribunals that the counterclaim share a nexus with the investment).
9 See, e.g., Rusoro v. Venezuela, Award at ¶ 628; Anglo-American v. Venezuela, Award at ¶¶ 529–30.
10 These requirements are based on an analysis of publicly available arbitral decisions where tribunals have examined counterclaims.
11 See Alessandra Arcuri and Francesco Montanaro, ‘Justice for All? Protecting the Public Interest in Investment Treaties’, Boston College Law Review, 2018, p. 2806; Alison Giest, ‘Interpreting Public Interest Provisions in International Investment Treaties’, Chicago Journal of International Law, 2017, p. 324.
12 Some (but not all) of these new treaties have been signed by states with developed mining industries. Even where the signatories do not have mining industries, these new provisions are important as they may be adopted by states that have rich mining resources. And even where these provisions are not in play, they may impact how tribunals address environmental counterclaims in the mining context.
13 For example, some of the earliest instances of state-asserted counterclaims arose in the context of contracts and investment agreements negotiated directly between the state and investor. See, e.g., Klockner Company v. Republic of Cameroon, ICSID Case No. ARB/81/2, Decision, 21 October 1982; Maritime International Nominees Establishment (MINE) v. Government of Guinea, ICSID, Decision, 6 January 1988; Atlantic Triton v. Government of Guinea, ICSID, Award, 21 April 1986. While we do not address cases that arose solely under investment agreements, we do discuss Perenco v. Ecuador and Burlington v. Ecuador, in which the investors raised claims arising both under treaties and under investment agreements.
14 For a discussion of investment arbitrations where the host state acted as claimant, see Gustavo Laborde, ‘The Case for Host State Claims in Investment Arbitration’, 1, J. Int’l Disp. Settlement 97–122 (2010).
15 See Andrea M Steingruber, Consent in International Arbitration, § 14.16–14.17 (Oxford Int’l Arb. Series, First Edition, 2012) (interpreting Article 46 of the ICSID Convention to encompass exactly the same scope of counterclaims as agreed upon in the investment treaty or investment agreement) (‘the provision expresses the fact that “the parties may vary or exclude the tribunal’s power to deal with ancillary claims in their consent agreement or subsequently”’, and ‘the tribunal . . . has no discretion to refuse considering ancillary claims’) (quoting G Petrochilos, S Noury and D Kalderimis, ‘Convention of the Settlement of Investment Disputes between States and Nationals of Other States’, in Concise International Arbitration, 2010, at ¶ 2 at Article 46 (The Hague: Kluwer Law International); Spyridon Roussalis v. Romania, ICSID Case No. ARB/06/1, Award, 7 December 2011, ¶ 866 (indicating that whether the parties have consented to arbitrate counterclaims ‘must be determined in the first place by reference to the dispute resolution clause contained in the BIT’.)
16 See, e.g., Antoine Goetz & Consorts et S.A. Affinage des Metaux v. Republic du Burundi, ICSID Case No. ARB/01/02, Award, 21 June 2012, ¶¶ 278–79 (adopting the Separate Opinion of Prof. Reisman in Roussalis v. Romania to find that election of a remedy under ICSID – including Article 46 of the ICSID Convention providing for counterclaims – ‘ipso facto’ constitutes consent to arbitrate counterclaims). cf. Karkey Karadeniz Elektrik Uretim A.S. v. Islamic Republic of Pakistan, ICSID Case No. ARB/13/1, Award, 22 August 2017, ¶ 1015 (rejecting the reasoning in Goetz v. Burundi).
17 See Douglas, footnote 8, at ¶ 491 (‘The consent is perfected by the investor’s filing of a request for arbitration, which cannot expand or limit the host state’s standing offer to arbitrate in the investment treaty.’); Hege Elisabeth Kjos, ‘Applicable Law in Investor-State Arbitration: The Interplay Between National and International Law’, 112 (Vaughan Lowe QC et al. (eds), Oxford Monographs in International Law, First Edition, 2013).
18 See, e.g., Urbaser v. Argentina, Award at ¶ 1147 (noting that any attempt by Urbaser to accept an offer that was different than the one made by Argentina in the BIT would have resulted in no agreement to arbitrate at all).
19 One notable exception to this rule was the recent Decision on Counterclaims in Burlington v. Ecuador, where the investor signed an agreement consenting to arbitrate Ecuador’s environmental counterclaims midway through the arbitration, essentially executing a post-dispute arbitration agreement in favour of the counterclaims. Burlington v. Ecuador, Decision on Counterclaims at ¶¶ 60–61.
20 M Waibel, ‘The Origins of Interpretive Canons in Domestic Legal Systems’, in J Klingler, Y Parkhomenko and C Salonidis (eds), Between the Lines of the Vienna Convention?: Canons and Other Principles of Interpretation in Public International Law (Wolters Kluwer, 2018) (discussing the application of the principle of exclusio unis in public international law).
21 Aven v. Costa Rica, Final Award at ¶ 693.
22 id. at ¶ 694.
23 Daniel W. Kappes and Kappes, Cassiday & Associates v. Republic of Guatemala, ICSID Case No. ARB/18/43, Guatemala’s Counter-Memorial, 7 December 2020.
24 Such provisions prohibiting state defences or counterclaims based upon insurance or guarantee contracts have been around since at least the early 1990s. For example, similar language appears in NAFTA. See North American Free Trade Agreement, entered into force 1 January 1994, Article 1137.3 (‘In an arbitration under this Section, a Party shall not assert, as a defense, counterclaim, right of set-off or otherwise, that the disputing investor has received or will receive, pursuant to an insurance or guarantee contract, indemnification or other compensation for all or part of its alleged damages.’). See also, e.g., Agreement Between the Government of Australia and the Government of the Republic of Lithuania on the Promotion and Protection of Investments, adopted 24 November 1998, entered into force 10 May 2002, Article 13.8. (‘In any proceeding involving a dispute relating to an investment, a Party shall not assert, as a defence, counterclaim, right of set-off or otherwise, that the investor concerned has received or will receive, pursuant to an insurance or guarantee contract, indemnification or other compensation for all or part of any alleged loss.’); Treaty Between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the Republic of Estonia for the Encouragement and Reciprocal Protection of Investment, signed 19 April 1994, entered into force 16 February 1997, Article VI.6 (similar language).
25 Agreement Between the Argentine Republic and Japan for the Promotion and Protection of Investment, signed 1 December 2018, not yet in force, Article 25.14 (‘respondent shall not assert, as a defense, counterclaim, right of set off or otherwise, that the claimant has received or will receive indemnification or other compensation for all or part of the alleged damages pursuant to an insurance or guarantee contract’); see also Free Trade Agreement between the Republic of Korea and the Republics of Central America (2018), signed 21 February 2018, entered into force 1 November 2019; Agreement between Australia and the Government of the Republic of Peru on the promotion and protection of investments (2018), signed 12 February 2018, entered into force 11 February 2020; Investment Agreement between the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of The People’s Republic of China and the Government of the Republic of Chile (2016), signed 18 November 2016, entered into force 14 July 2019.
26 Agreement between the State of Kuwait and the Republic of Singapore for the Encouragement and Reciprocal Protection of Investments, signed 5 November 2009, entered into force 15 April 2013, Article 9(6).
27 Saluka Investments B.V. v. The Czech Republic, UNCITRAL, Decision on Jurisdiction Over the Czech Republic’s Counterclaim, 7 May 2004, ¶ 39; see also Metal-Tech Ltd. v. The Republic of Uzbekistan, ICSID Case No. ARB/10/3, Award, 4 October 2013, ¶ 410–11 (reaching a similar conclusion under the Israel–Uzbekistan BIT); Inmaris Perestroika Sailing Maritime Services GmbH and Others v. Ukraine, ICSID Case No. ARB/08/8, Excerpts of Award, 1 March 2012, ¶ 432 (reaching a similar conclusion under the Germany–Ukraine BIT). See also Urbaser v. Argentina, Award at ¶ 1187 (finding that reference in the investment agreement to arbitration of ‘disputes’ generally, authorised arbitration of counterclaims in principle); Hesham T. M. Al Warraq v. Republic of Indonesia, UNCITRAL, Final Award, 15 December 2014, ¶ 661 (same). Notably, the Spain–Argentina BIT at issue in Urbaser also allows either the investor or the host state to submit an investment dispute to arbitration.
28 Rusoro v. Venezuela, Award at ¶ 622.
29 See Rusoro v. Venezuela, Award at ¶ 622–27. The tribunal in Rusoro was likely also influenced by the fact that Venezuela’s counterclaim arose under Venezuelan law and could not ‘be adjudicated by applying the Treaty or principles of international law’. id. at ¶ 628. See below.
30 Karkey v. Pakistan, Award at ¶¶ 1012–14 (‘The BIT contains no particular or general language that would enable the Tribunal to conclude, if interpreted in accordance with the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, that the arbitral agreement between Pakistan and Karkey includes consent by Karkey to the submission of counterclaims by Pakistan’). The tribunal in Naturgy Energy v. Colombia reached a similar result, noting that although the Colombia–Spain BIT included a broad reference to ‘all disputes’, a close reading demonstrated that the ‘precisely defined’ dispute resolution process contemplated by the treaty only permitted claims ‘by an investor’. Naturgy Energy Group, S.A. and Naturgy Electricidad Colombia (formerly Gas Natural SDG, S.A. and Gas Natural Fenosa Electricidad Colombia S.L.) v. Republic of Colombia, UNCITRAL, Award, 12 March 2021, ¶¶ 611–21.
31 Anglo-American v. Venezuela, Award.
32 id. at ¶ 526 (quoting UK–Venezuela BIT, Article 8(3)).
33 id. at ¶¶ 527–28. Similarly, the tribunal in Roussalis v. Romania found that there was no consent to arbitrate counterclaims under a treaty providing for arbitration of ‘disputes between an investor . . . and the other Contracting Party concerning an obligation of the latter under this Agreement, in relation to an investment of the former’. Roussalis, Award at ¶ 886 (quoting Greece–Romania BIT). The tribunal found that this clearly indicated that the parties only consented to arbitrate disputes related to the state’s alleged breaches, meaning that there was no consent to arbitrate any counterclaims concerning possible breaches of obligations by the investor. Roussalis, Award at ¶¶ 870–71. See also Oxus Gold v. The Republic of Uzbekistan, UNCITRAL, Final Award, 17 December 2015, ¶ 948 (same).
34 See Burlington v. Ecuador, Decision on Counterclaims.
35 Perenco v. Ecuador, Interim Decision on the Environmental Counterclaim.
36 Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, signed 8 March 2018, entered into force 30 December 2018, Article 9.19.2.
37 Investment Agreement for the COMESA Common Investment Area, signed 23 May 2007, not in force (‘A Member State against whom a claim is brought by a COMESA investor under this Article may assert as a defence, counterclaim, right of set off or other similar claim, that the COMESA investor bringing the claim has not fulfilled its obligations under this Agreement, including the obligations to comply with all applicable domestic measures or that it has not taken all reasonable steps to mitigate possible damages.’).
38 Agreement for the Reciprocal Promotion and Protection of Investments between the Argentine Republic and the United Arab Emirates, signed 16 April 2018, not in force, Article 28(4).
39 Agreement between the Slovak Republic and the Islamic Republic of Iran for the Promotion and Reciprocal Protection of Investments, signed 19 January 2016, entered into force 30 August 2018, Article 14(3).
40 Argentina–UAE BIT, Article 28(4).
41 Slovak Republic–Iran BIT, Article 14(3).
42 Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP,) Article 9.19.2 (‘When the claimant submits a claim pursuant to paragraph 1(a)(i)(B), 1(a)(i)(C), 1(b)(i)(B) or 1(b)(i)(C), the respondent may make a counterclaim in connection with the factual and legal basis of the claim or rely on a claim for the purpose of a set off against the claimant.’).
43 As discussed below, tribunals have often applied a connectedness requirement based on the arbitration rules applicable to a given dispute. As a result, tribunals may use this same analysis to analyse the connectedness requirement now included in some investment treaties.
44 Slovak Republic–Iran BIT, Article 14(3).
45 Teinver SA, Transportes de Cercanías SA and Autobuses Urbanos del Sur SA v. The Argentine Republic, ICSID Case No. ARB/09/1, Award, 21 July 2017, ¶ 1066 (rejecting the respondent’s counterclaim on the basis that it did not ‘concern the existence or scope of a legal right or obligation’ contained in the Treaty).
46 Respondents have been more successful asserting counterclaims under investment agreements negotiated directly with investors. See, e.g., MINE v. Government of Guinea, Decision on Annulment at 8.01 (upholding the award of damages on Guinea’s counterclaim as res judicata).
47 See, e.g,Aven v. Costa Rica, Final Award at ¶¶ 733–34; Urbaser v. Argentina, Award at ¶ 1192.
48 Roussalis v. Romania, Award at ¶¶ 870-71 (noting that where the BIT does not incorporate domestic law obligations, only a cause of action arising under the BIT falls within the tribunal’s jurisdiction).
49 See Rusoro v. Venezuela, Award at ¶ 628. See also Anglo-American v. Venezuela, Award at ¶¶ 529–30 (finding that the treaty provided no cause of action for counterclaims based upon the investor’s alleged breaches of Venezuelan law).
50 P Lalive and L Halonen, ‘On the availability of Counterclaims in Investment Treaty Arbitration’. Czech Yearbook of International Law, 2011 p. 141, No. 7.19.
51 See, e.g., Oxus v. Uzbekistan, Final Award at ¶ 958. See also Roussalis v. Romania, Award at ¶¶ 871–73 (rejecting the state’s argument that the umbrella clause could elevate domestic law breaches to breaches of the BIT, because the particular umbrella clause only required that the state observe its obligations, and did not apply to obligations of investors).
52 Slovak Republic–Iran BIT, Article 14(3).
53 Aven v. Costa Rica, Final Award at ¶ 733.
54 id., at ¶ 734.
55 Nonetheless, the tribunal in Aven v. Costa Rica found that the respondent failed to meet the UNCITRAL pleading requirements to state a counterclaim; therefore the counterclaim was dismissed as inadmissible. See Final Award at ¶¶ 745–47.
56 Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement between the European Free Trade Association States and the Republic of Ecuador, signed 25 June 2018, Article 6.3. This language establishes a standard that a state must meet for the measures to be permissible – they must be ‘necessary’ to protect human, animal or plan life or health.
57 Hong Kong–Chile BIT, Article 15.1. (‘Nothing in this Agreement shall be construed to prevent a Party from adopting, maintaining, or enforcing any measure otherwise consistent with this Agreement that it considers appropriate to ensure that investment activity in its area is undertaken in a manner sensitive to environmental, health or other regulatory objectives.’). This language establishes a somewhat lower standard. The state only needs to show that it found it appropriate to adopt, maintain or enforce the environmental measure in question. These provisions, which permit a state to enforce its own environmental measures, can be contrasted with similar provisions that expressly carve out public health, social and environmental and security protections from indirect expropriation claims. The United Arab Emirates–Uruguay BIT provides that regulatory measures that are not discriminatory or arbitrary and designed and applied to protect legitimate objectives of public health, security, the environment and social questions do not constitute indirect expropriation. Agreement between the United Arab Emirates and Uruguay for the Promotion and Reciprocal Protection of Investments, signed 24 October 2018, Article 8. Thus, with several caveats, this provision prevents an investor from invoking legitimate environmental regulations as a basis for an indirect expropriation claim. While addressing the same subject matter – a state’s environmental (and other) regulations – these provisions could be more difficult to use as a basis for asserting a counterclaim.
58 The tribunal in Aven did not consider whether asserting an environmental counterclaim constituted enforcing environmental measures. However, it noted that the environmental enforcement clause was included in Section A of the investment chapter of DR–CAFTA, and Section A forms the basis for causes of action for investment arbitration under DR–CAFTA. Because of the context surrounding the clause, the Aven tribunal found that the environmental enforcement clause created an ‘obligation, not only under domestic law but also under Section A of Chapter 10 of DR–CAFTA to abide [by] and comply [with] the environmental domestic laws and regulations, including the measures adopted by the host State to protect human, animal or plant life or health’. Aven, Final Award at ¶ 734. It will be interesting to see how the Kappes v. Guatemala tribunal analyses these issues as it decides Guatemala’s environmental counterclaim in a mining dispute brought pursuant to DR–CAFTA. Kappes v. Guatemala, Guatemala’s Counter-Memorial.
59 The travaux preparatoires, where they exist, are silent as to these issues.
60 See, e.g., Urbaser v. Argentina, Award at ¶ 1192 (opining that the Spain-Argentina BIT’s reference to incorporating rights under other international agreements or ‘general international law’ contemplated a cause of action for claims and counterclaims under sources of international law external to the BIT).
61 id. at ¶ 1195.
62 id. at ¶¶ 1196–98.
63 id. at ¶ 1199.
64 id. at ¶¶ 1209–10.
65 Arcuri and Montanaro, footnote 11, at 2806; Giest, footnote 11, at 324.
67 See, e.g., Government of Canada, NRCan, ‘Corporate Social Responsibility Checklist for Canadian Mining Companies Working Abroad’ (2015), available at www.nrcan.gc.ca/sites/www.nrcan.gc.ca/files/mineralsmetals/pdf/Corporate%20Social%20Responsibility%20Checklist_e.pdf.
68 Hong Kong–Chile BIT, Article 16.
69 Benin–Canada BIT, Article 16 (‘Each Contracting Party should encourage enterprises operating within its territory or subject to its jurisdiction to voluntarily incorporate internationally recognized standards of corporate social responsibility in their practices and internal policies, such as statements of principle that have been endorsed or are supported by the Contracting Parties. These principles address issues such as labor, the environment, human rights, community relations and anti-corruption.’).
70 Arcuri and Montanaro, footnote 11, p. 2806.
71 These provisions may carry more weight if the relevant investment treaty also includes a provision acknowledging a state’s right to enforce its environmental regulations, which could provide an independent cause of action. For example, in Aven, the tribunal found that the inclusion of the language regarding Costa Rica’s right to enforce its environmental measures in the section of the treaty that creates causes of action for investment arbitration, meant that the environmental right to regulate created a cause of action for a counterclaim. Aven, Final Award at ¶ 734.
72 cf. Spain–Argentina BIT, Article IX(6) (providing merely that the arbitration should be governed by the BIT, any additional agreements between the state parties, and principles of host state and international law); Urbaser v. Argentina, Award at ¶ 1199 (finding that the reference to principles of international law did not impose affirmative obligations on investors, but could create a negative obligation ‘not to engage in activity aimed at destroying’ human rights protected by international law).
73 See ICSID Convention, Article 46 (‘Except as the parties otherwise agree, the Tribunal shall, if requested by a party, determine any incidental or additional claims or counterclaims arising directly out of the subject matter of the dispute provided that they are within the scope of consent of the parties and are otherwise within the jurisdiction of the Centre.’); ICSID Arbitration Rules, Rule 40(1) (‘Except as the parties otherwise agree, a party may present an incidental or additional claim or counter-claim arising directly out of the subject-matter of the dispute, provided that such ancillary claim is within the scope of the consent of the parties and is otherwise within the jurisdiction of the Centre.’).
74 See UNCITRAL (1976) Rules, Article 19(3); UNCITRAL (2010) Rules, Article 21(3). Consequently, tribunals operating under the UNCITRAL Rules rely on the text of the investment instrument to determine jurisdiction over and admissibility of counterclaims. See, e.g., Saluka v. Czech Republic, Decision on Jurisdiction Over Counterclaim at ¶ 39 (finding that Articles 19.3, 19.4, and 21.3 of the UNCITRAL 1976 Rules conferred jurisdiction ‘in principle’ to hear counterclaims, so long as the arbitration agreement in the BIT was broad enough to encompass them). The rationale under other institutional rules, such as the ICC, SCC or LCIA Rules, is largely the same as under the UNCITRAL Rules. Although there are limited public awards where tribunals applying these sets of rules interpreted their ability to hear counterclaims, like the UNCITRAL Rules, these institutions provide generally for the admission of counterclaims, and any limitations would be found in the instrument of the parties’ consent to arbitration – the investment treaty or investment agreement. See, e.g., Limited Liability Company Amto v. Ukraine, SCC Case 080/2005, Award, 26 March 2008, ¶ 118 (‘The jurisdiction of an Arbitral Tribunal over a State party counterclaim under an investment treaty depends upon the terms of the dispute resolution provisions of the treaty, the nature of the counterclaim, and the relationship of the counterclaims with the claims in the arbitration.’). The Saluka tribunal, which was the first to consider the availability of counterclaims in an investment arbitration governed by the UNCITRAL Rules, also found that any legitimate counterclaims should have ‘a close connection with the primary claim to which it is a response’. similar to the nexus requirement under the ICSID Convention. Later investment tribunals applying the UNCITRAL Rules have tended to follow Saluka, requiring (1) a nexus between the primary claim and counterclaim; and (2) consent under the relevant BIT. See, e.g., Al Warraq v. Indonesia, Final Award at ¶¶ 655–59; Oxus v. Uzbekistan, Final Award at ¶¶ 945, 954.
75 See Metal-Tech v. Uzbekistan, Award at ¶ 407. In practice, most tribunals have interpreted this nexus to require that the counterclaim be against the same party or parties that bring the primary claims in the arbitration. See, e.g., Saluka, Decision on Jurisdiction Over Counterclaim at ¶¶ 61, 81 (concluding that the counterclaims were insufficiently connected to the primary claim, because they related to the conduct of a third party that was not the investor); Paushok v. Mongolia, Award at ¶¶ 693, 696 (rejecting environmental counterclaims on the basis that they lacked a ‘close connection with the primary claim’. because they concerned actions by the claimants’ local subsidiary, and ‘no evidence was introduced by Respondent tying Claimants themselves to any of the breaches alleged’); Al Warraq v. Indonesia, Final Award at ¶¶ 668–71 (dismissing counterclaims on the basis that they referred to the conduct of a third party that was not a party to the investment arbitration); Inmaris v. Ukraine, Excerpts of Award at ¶ 432 (same).
76 Slovak Republic–Iran BIT, CPTPP, Argentina–UAE BIT.
77 Aven v. Costa Rica, Final Award at ¶¶ 744–45. There was also some debate under Aven as to whether the DR–CAFTA created a cause of action for Costa Rica’s environmental counterclaims, but the tribunal was not required to come to a conclusion on this since the claims were inadmissible for improper pleading..
78 Gustav F W Hamester GmbH & Co KG v. Republic of Ghana, ICSID Case No. ARB/07/24, Award, 18 June 2012, ¶ 352 (rejecting counterclaims, because the state ‘neither specified the basis for the Tribunal’s jurisdiction over the counterclaim nor the losses allegedly suffered’). See also Goetz v. Burundi, Award at ¶¶ 286–87 (dismissing the counterclaim on the merits on the basis that the state failed to present a prima facie case showing damages or causation). At least one new treaty appears to address this issue, expressly incorporating a pleading standard. The Argentina–UAE BIT requires that ‘the disputing party shall specify precisely the basis for the counter-claim’. Argentina–UAE BIT, Article 28.4.
79 Chevron Corporation and Texaco Petroleum Company v. The Republic of Ecuador, PCA Case No. 2009-23, Partial Award on Track II, 30 August 2018, ¶¶ 7.37–7.45. See also Hamester v. Ghana, Award, ¶ 356 (rejecting counterclaim based upon a contract to which the state was not a party); Alex Genin, Eastern Credit Limited, Inc. and A.S. Baltoil v. The Republic of Estonia, ICSID Case No. ARB/99/2, Award, 5 June 2001, ¶ 378, No. 101 (rejecting the counterclaim on the merits, but also questioning whether the state had standing to bring the counterclaim, since it was not the party damaged by the alleged breach). In some instances, the damaged non-state party may be permitted to intervene in the investment arbitration and file an amicus submission; however, the admissibility of environmental arguments by third-party non-disputants is beyond the scope of this chapter.
80 Tethyan Copper Company v. Pakistan, Decision on Jurisdiction and Liability, ¶¶ 1421–22. In this case, Pakistan asserted three counterclaims. The third counterclaim related to the legality of the claimant’s investment, and was rejected by the Tribunal on other grounds.
81 The tribunal also took into account that Balochistan had raised similar counterclaims in a parallel ICC arbitration that the same claimant had instituted pursuant to the contract Pakistan invoked in the investment arbitration.
82 As the only modern instance where a state has fully prevailed on a counterclaim against an investor, it is likely that Burlington v. Ecuador will prompt some states to opt towards executing investment agreements that include consent and cause of action for counterclaims directly with major foreign investors.
83 A Di Franco and R Zabaglia, ‘Brazil’, in J H Carter (ed.), The International Arbitration Review, Ninth Edition, August 2018.
84 Stephanie Rokter, ‘Ecuador to grow mining industry to 4% GDP by 2021’, Global Mining Review, 2 November 2018, www.globalminingreview.com/exploration-development/02112018/ecuador-to-grow-mining-industry-to-4-gdp-by-2021/ (last accessed 21 March 2019).
85 A Hurtado-Larrea and C Torres, ‘Ecuador’, in The International Comparative Legal Guide to: Investor-State Arbitration 2019, First Edition, 13 November 2018, https://iclg.com/practice-areas/investor-state-arbitration-laws-and-regulations/ecuador (last accessed 21 March 2019).