Episode 54 – ISDS 101 with Tara van Ho

Janet (deep in thought) and Stephanie talk to Dr Tara van Ho (bottom right)

We decided to tackle something we don’t know enough about (but know more now we’ve done the podcast – and you will too!): Investor State Dispute Settlements or ISDS.  Luckily Dr Tara van Ho senior lecturer at Essex Law School and co-director of the Essex Business and Human rights project was able to fill in the blanks in our knowledge.

She explained that we’re not talking about the International Sheep Dog Society but clauses in trade agreements that give foreign or multinational companies the right to bypass the national legal system of countries. Instead they go to a secretive tribunal of highly paid lawyers and judges, often experts in corporate law in case of a dispute.  This kind of ISDS started to be included in trade agreements since the 1960s but their use has grown massively since.  

Tara ran through all the main points and gave details of different cases including her favourite one : Eco Oro versus Colombia .

Reading recommendations are How Not to Die Alone by Richard Roper and Lionel Shriver’s We Need to Talk About Kevin. As Tara’s Twitter followers will know, she is listening to Taylor Swift on endless repeat and recommends Blank Space as the best ISDS track.