Autonomy to Set the Level of Regulatory Protection in International Investment Law

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Abstract

This article argues that State autonomy in setting the level of protection for permissible regulatory aims can be better operationalised in the investment treaty regime. The article draws on comparative insights from WTO law, where it is established that WTO members have the right to determine the level of protection for permissible regulatory aims, although significant disciplines are placed on the means used to achieve those aims. It is then argued that investment treaties are, properly interpreted, consistent with the idea that States retain autonomy to determine the level of protection for permissible regulatory aims. Finally, the article proposes removing from the fair and equitable treatment and indirect expropriation standards proportionality balancing stricto sensu, as this undermines State autonomy in setting the level of protection. Overall, this article argues for a partial reorientation of investment law, in which non-discriminatory measures that pursue a permissible regulatory aim, including at a particular level, should not amount to a breach of a treaty where a State uses the means that involve the least possible restriction of the competing interests protected by relevant investment treaty obligations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)697-736
Number of pages40
JournalInternational and Comparative Law Quarterly
Volume70
Issue number3
Early online date7 Jul 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 21 Jul 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press for the British Institute of International and Comparative Law.

Structured keywords

  • LAW Centre for International Law
  • LAW Centre for Global Law and Innovation

Keywords

  • public international law
  • investment treaties
  • investor-State arbitration
  • regulatory autonomy
  • fair and equitable treatment
  • indirect expropriation
  • expropriation annex
  • proportionality analysis

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