Switzerland contests all claims brought against it in a request for arbitration filed at ICSID

Bern, 20.08.2020 - On 17 August 2020, the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) in Washington D.C. registered a claim against Switzerland. The origin of this claim dates back to 29 May 2020, when a legal entity domiciled in the Seychelles and controlled by a Swiss citizen filed a claim for arbitration against Switzerland with the ICSID, referring to the bilateral investment protection agreement between Switzerland and Hungary (the Swiss-Hungarian BIT).

The claimant purports to act as an assignee of the claims of three Italian nationals who allegedly suffered losses due to the urgent federal decree on a temporary prohibition of the resale of non-agricultural land passed by the Swiss Parliament in 1989. The claimant contends that Switzerland breached its international obligations by enacting the decree and requests compensation in the amount of CHF 300 million plus interest. The claimant purports to rely on the Switzerland-Hungary BIT by means of the most-favoured-nation clause in the bilateral Establishment and Consular Agreement between Switzerland and Italy of 1868. Switzerland considers that the claimant’s claims are not investment claims and that in any event, the claimant is not entitled to invoke the most-favoured-nation clause to create jurisdiction under the Switzerland-Hungary BIT. Switzerland also denies having breached the Establishment and Consular Agreement with Italy in any way.

The Seychelles-based legal entity and the Swiss national controlling it have previously brought proceedings against Switzerland before various fora in Switzerland and abroad. All of these proceedings have been dismissed.

Switzerland rejects all claims advanced by the claimant in the request for arbitration. The next step will be to set up an arbitration tribunal, which will assess the case.

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State Secretariat for Economic Affairs