On Wednesday 28th January, we organised the “International Arbitration: Safe as Houses? Strategic protections for overseas investments” seminar in collaboration with SC ANDREW LLP – ONTIER, member of the Spanish Chamber at the prestigious bureau offices in Holborn.
We had the pleasure to count on two great speakers for the talk: Ms. Mahnaz Malik and Mr. Ian Sellars. They are both specialists in international arbitration and have wide experience in dispute settlement and resolution.
They started the breakfast seminar analysing the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in different regions of the world. This concept normally refers to long-term investments being oil and gas, infrastructures, transport, electric power and energy the most popular sectors. Speakers warned attendees about the potential risks investors face when investing overseas, such as legal or political risks, taxation, and foreign exchange and unexpected changes in governments or law industries, among others.
However, they came up with an efficient solution for what could become a real nightmare if investors do not hold adequate protection: the Bilateral Investment Treaties (BIT), which could also be turned into multilateral ones.
These programs consist of state -to-state agreements that provide with certain minimum guarantees to investors and that have become more and more popular over their 53 years of existence. Nevertheless, our speakers recommended consulting expert advice as many treaties that could exist might not be in force or might have several exceptions, depending on geopolitical considerations.
But what is this agreement useful for? You just have to take a look at the fact: there are currently 198 countries that participate in the BITs. These agreements are based on having somebody to protect (investor) and an object of protection (investment). Unlike to what it is commonly believed, these two terms have a very broad definition. For instance, an investor could be an individual, company, charity, club or state entity, among others, and an investment could be “every kind of asset”, ranging from a real estate property, to the shares of a company or even the formula of a cosmetic product.
A true story starred by a British football player reflects how a BIT was able to rescue him from an incredible and unexpected situation. Even though he had never smoked or visited India, an Indian company used his altered image to promote the damage smoking could have on individuals by showing a picture of him with disease lungs. Obviously, this type of promotion did not benefit his brand image at all. And then it was when one of UK-India BIT saved him. His image was considered “an asset” in India and that behaviour was judged hurtful and unfair, so BIT exercised superior protection on him.
On this seminar we learnt a useful lesson that all participants valued in a very positive way. We would like to send special thanks to ONTIER for kindly hosting this event in the most exquisite way as well as to all our members who participated from the seminar.
If you are interested in this topic and other legal aspects, do not miss our upcoming seminar on “Key aspects of Insolvency Law and procedures in the UK. Differences between SP and the UK”. You can read more about this event and register here.
Additionally, you can keep up to date with all our events by visiting our Upcoming Events section.