Most people in Britain have grown up understanding the rules of Monopoly, the board game where the more you own, the more money you can extort from every other player until one player has a monopoly i.e. owns all the property on board and has all the money.
The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is a “trade agreement” currently being negotiated between EU politicians (including UK MP’s and MEP’s) and multinational corporations which will effectively turns the EU into a monopoly like board for Corporate America – but this is no innocent game like the hugely popular Hasbro/Parker game of Monopoly – this is real life and TTIP allows corporate America to usurp democracy in every EU country using a corporate court and a corporate rule book written by corporations for corporations.
The LCIA EU TTIPOPOLY rules are simple and one sided – Corporations set the rules and corporations are the only ones allowed to roll the dice, where the bank to be raided by the corporate players is effectively the taxpayers of your country and each EU government is limited to only being able to “take a risk card”.
Each time a corporation throws the dice and lands on your country they get to take a “Taxpayers’ Money” card (as the corporations are leaving nothing to chance).
“Taxpayers’ money cards” are then kept by each corporate player who has landed on your country until such time your government “takes a risk” to introduce any law corporations might not like (or has a current law they don’t like) and corporations can then use their Taxpayers’ Money card in combination with the TTIP “trade agreement” ISDS clause to sue your government (taxpayers) in a private corporate court in London or if the “parties” don’t agree – any country of the arbitration panel’s choosing.
The “court” being used to sue governments using the ISDS clause in trade agreements is not a court of law but the London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA), established in 1891, in the City of London, a private company limited by guarantee, which acts as a private corporate court to settle international commercial disputes between private corporations and was never intended to have power over governments – but the “Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) clause being quietly inserted into “trade agreements” gives this corporate court power over any government which has signed a trade agreement with the ISDS clause in place.
At the time of its incorporation an academic journal said “this chamber will have all the virtues which the law lacks. It is to be expeditious where the law is slow, cheap where the law is costly, simple where the law is technical, a peacemaker instead of a stirrer-up of strife.”
But not content with bypassing every EU court of law, to sue governments if TTIP is signed, corporations decided the 1998 LCIA rules should be updated before TTIP (and the EU Canadian CETA) trade agreements are signed and the new LCIA “arbitration rules” should seek to “promote a more speedy, efficient, and fair arbitration process, one that is more aligned with modern arbitral practice.”
Translated this means corporations have just quietly changed their LCIA arbitration rules, with the changes coming into effect on the 1st October 2014, to make it even easier, faster and cheaper for Corporations to sue every EU government using the TTIP and CETA “trade agreements” in a move designed to tip their scales of corporate injustice firmly in Corporate America’s favour using what can only be described as LCIA corporate kangaroo courts.
Unlike a UK court of law, which bases decisions on UK and EU laws, which corporations claim are “stirrers of strife”, the “corporate court” does not adhere to professional codes of conduct, just “guidance” , using rules written by corporations for corporations, does not take the public interest into account (as a court of law would if a corporation is suing a government) and the court is controlled by corporate “arbitrators” where all proceedings are undertaken in a closed “court” which only takes account of “free trade” values, disregarding values of public health, human rights, environmental protection, or labour or other social rights.
Under the new 2014 corporate rules while article 5 states LCIA “arbitrators” (who get paid fees), need to register any interest (although no-one knows yet just how much information they should supply) in reality if an arbitrator’s declaration of independence is inaccurate, as revealed on page 79 section headed “Constitution of the tribunal” of a document entitled “The Application of the 2014 LCIA Rules to Arbitral Proceedings Seated in Italy”, which explains, if you don’t challenge the impartiality of an arbitrator during the arbitration process should you find out later an arbitrator or arbitrators were not in fact as impartial as they declared the LCIA and the arbitrator cannot be challenged after any rulings have been made – ensuring as long as you don’t find out about any actual lack of impartiality by an arbitrator during arbitration their ruling will stand with no right to appeal.
Another of the 2014 LCIA rule change by corporate representatives in the LCIA gives defendants (taxpayers) less time to respond than the LCIA 1998 rules, making it more difficult for taxpayers and governments to defend themselves against corporate attacks as corporations think it is more important their process allows them to sue taxpayers as quickly as possible – which should take precedence over giving taxpayers adequate time to prepare their defence.
Corporations have also awarded themselves the power to decide who should pay the “costs” of arbitration – corporations or taxpayers – I wonder how often the corporate arbitrators will force taxpayers to pay the costs.
The application of the new LCIA rules in Italy also makes clear in the section entitled “The conduct of the arbitration proceedings” on page 78, the normal “seat” of the “arbitration court” will be London – but unlike any other arbitration bodies rules, if the “parties” don’t agree then the corporate tribunal “arbitrators” can decide where the tribunal should be heard.
This ensures an LCIA appointed arbitrator has the freedom to rule American corporations can have their “tribunal” against any EU government seated in America – where the LCIA rules can be combined with American laws to tip the balance in favour of American Corporations against every EU government.
This rule also guarantees to make it more difficult to find out in time if the corporate “arbitrators” who will sit in judgement in the LCIA “court” are truly independent and impartial with an LCIA loophole in article 11.2 stating the 14 days to challenge the impartiality can in fact be changed as the LCIA state “(or such lesser or greater time as the LCIA Court may determine), after which the LCIA Court shall appoint the replacement arbitrator without such re-nomination” – ensuring there is nothing to stop the LCIA saying we have 1 day or 1 hour to challenge – if they should so decide.
We just have to look at a similar body in America currently imposing £billion dollar fines on European banks to understand TTIP ensures a private LCIA corporate court can sit in America on the same basis (using its own rules) to impose fines on taxpayers in 28 EU countries any time any private American corporation goes to the LCIA demanding money from British and EU taxpayers because they don’t like a law just presented by any country in the EU, where our laws can be called into question by corporate arbitrators sitting in their own private corporate courtroom in London (or America or any country of the arbitrators’ choice).
The LCIA has also just given themselves the power to create corporation class action suits, where one or more corporations can gang together against any EU government in the same arbitration which will likely hugely increase the fines imposed on EU taxpayers, money corporations hope to share out amongst themselves, which could run into £billions, imposed on EU (taxpayers) under the “New Rules Facilitating the Consolidation of Multiple Arbitrations”
In the UK MSP’s, MP’s and MEP’s should know by now, if TTIP is signed, companies holding fracking licenses across the UK (most of which were hurriedly issued weeks ago in the 14th Fracking licensing round) can use the TTIP ISDS loophole to take any future UK government to the fast track corporate LCIA court if they attempt to ban fracking – ensuring even if fracking corporations don’t make money out of fracking they can make a colossal fortune from just being in possession of fracking licenses if a ban is proposed or imposed in the UK after TTIP is signed. Who is this going to benefit? It is much like OPEC in terms of reign over World Wide oil prices – Eg: Delays ensure massive payouts that some Oil Org’s run on with no drilling yet reap massive profits just not from the public purse!
Article 9.B is a change (to a little used LCIA rule) which again allows corporations the option to bypass UK Et Al’ courts of law to settle “asset” disputes before an arbitration tribunal.
The LCIA has also given themselves the power to appoint their own corporate “emergency arbitrator” within 3 days of a party application and the emergency arbitrator is required to decide the claim for “emergency relief” within 14 days following his or her appointment using their own new “emergency arbitrator process” again not created by law, just by corporations agreeing it should be so – with article 9.11 stating “arbitrators having the power to change the award on its own initiative or if one of the parties requests it to be changed (for more?)” but parties can choose to go to court if they choose (for now).
The LCIA also boasts they can “impose confidentiality obligations that have little or no equivalent in many other international arbitration rules” – ensuring even our government cannot tell us anything that went on in secret kangaroo corporate courts.
The LCIA has also awarded itself new powers stop any of the parties appointing any new “legal council” unless the arbitrators agree as described in “Legal Representation” section on page 80 of the document relating to LCIA 2014 rules.
The TTIP ISDS clause ensures the LCIA has the power to use their “arbitration panels” to allow LCIA appointed “arbitrators” to effectively veto current and future laws in 28 EU countries, using their own corporate kangaroo court – placing the LCIA and their corporate rulebook above UK and EU laws, courts and parliaments.
We don’t vote for American politicians, we don’t vote for corporate boardrooms and this is exactly why no corporation or the LCIA should have any power over any EU government and sit above our courts of law and our laws.
And the LCIA should not hold the undemocratic power to raid taxpayers’ pockets in private corporate courts sitting behind closed doors protected by confidentiality from investigation by journalists or the public.
Surely our MSP’s, MP’s and MEP’s will stop corporate America raiding our coffers!
SNP and UKIP want TTIP and CETA signed, with their ISDS clauses intact, as do the Labour, Tory and Lib Dem parties, who are working together to sign up to TTIP too. Despite their claims they “might” protect the NHS from TTIP where is the protection for the rest of our public services, taxpayers, our wealth, health, food, medicine, chemical safety and our right to privacy all under threat from Corporate America with democracy itself obviously in danger too (making a mockery of the devolved power offerings these parties know TTIP will usurp.
The Green Party is the only national party in the UK against TTIP being signed.
It is no wonder SNP, UKIP, Labour, Tory and Lib Dem MSP’s , MP’s and MEP’s are doing their best to avoid any public dialogue before they have signed their TTIP trade agreement with America (and the CETA trade agreement just agreed between the EU and Canada which has still to be signed – which also has the dangerous ISDS clause).
And just to show how out of step Labour, Tory, Lib Dem, SNP and UKIP parties are with the Green Party and other politicians across the globe, the Economist magazine shines a light on the fact Brazilian politicians refuse to sign any trade agreement which includes the ISDS clause, yet still gets plenty of foreign investment, with South African and Indonesia all intending to also drop out or no longer sign any trade treaty with this clause to stop investors using the LCIA court and forcing them back to courts of Law where they should be.
Maybe that explains why the BBC and other TV channels are refusing to give the Green Party a place in their General Election televised debates – because Better Together, the SNP and UKIP don’t want the Green Party to be able to force them to explain on television to the British public why they want to sign TTIP and all the nasty details – with their politicians preferring to keep the British public in the dark as much as possible regarding TTIP before the general election – a trick they successfully pulled for the televised debate during the EU elections.
As George Monbiot warned in the Guardian on 4th November 2014 in his article entitled “The British government leading a gunpowder plot against democracy”
“This bill of corporate rights threatens to blow the sovereignty of parliament unless it can be stopped” as “Already, thanks to the insertion of ISDS into much smaller trade treaties, big business is engaged in an orgy of litigation, whose purpose is to strike down any law that might impinge on its anticipated future profits.
The tobacco firm Philip Morris is suing governments in Uruguay and Australia for trying to discourage people from smoking. The oil firm Occidental was awarded $2.3bn in compensation from Ecuador, which terminated the company’s drilling concession in the Amazon after finding that Occidental had broken Ecuadorean law. The Swedish company Vattenfall is suing the German government for shutting down nuclear power. An Australian firm is suing El Salvador’s government for $300m for refusing permission for a goldmine over concerns it would poison the drinking water.
The same mechanism, under TTIP, could be used to prevent UK & WW governments from reversing the privatisation of the railways and the NHS, or from defending public health and the natural world against corporate greed. The corporate lawyers who sit on these panels are beholden only to the companies whose cases they adjudicate, who at other times are their employers.
Democracy is a fragile thing which will fast become relegated to history if TTIP and CETA are signed by the monopoly of established UK political parties using their cartel control of parliaments across the UK to sign TTIP and CETA trade agreements with the ISDS clause firmly in place –all against the public interest of UK Et Al’ taxpayers – begging the question what other undemocratic super powers do our MP’s allow the “City of London” to wield without public knowledge, powers so great private corporations are obviously using to usurp our democracy?
Why is Merkel in such a hurry? http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/11/16/us-australia-germany-idUSKCN0J00E320141116
And why is Obama being so secretive? http://rt.com/usa/204187-trans-pacifica-trade-deal/#.VGGW8hazUgg.facebook
Why would Cameron not allow for pubilc consult on this? http://rt.com/uk/206191-ttip-g20-cameron-growth/#.VGrCL4JAA14.facebook
Recent alternative news media articles on TTIP.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sBdBdzeaYcA or via http://scottishnews.scot/author/admin/ Scotland’s new news alternative
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rh0InepmCwQ via Trew News via Russell Brand
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E2D0qSfm898#t=12 RT news
Contribution: Thanks to Mel Kelly for main content.