Labour MEP David Martin has welcomed the news that the Uruguay government has won the court case launched by Philip Morris. The tobacco company had sued Uruguay following the government’s decision to place large graphic health warnings on cigarette packets in 2009.
The World Bank’s International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) ruled, on 8 July, in favour of Uruguay, ordering Philip Morris to pay a $7 million fine as well as covering: “all the fees and expenses of the Tribunal and ICSID’s administrative fees and expenses.”
David Martin, who is the Socialist and Democrat Group spokesperson for international trade in the European Parliament, said:
“This is a very welcome decision. The ICSID has upheld Uruguay’s right to regulate in the interest of public health. It sends out a strong message that companies cannot dictate public health policy using investor state dispute mechanism (ISDS) clauses in bilateral investment agreements. The interests of the people have trumped those of big business.
However the details of the decision are not public because of confidentiality clauses in the investment agreement. This is not acceptable. Transparency is an essential prerequisite where public money and policies are involved.
This ruling comes hot on the heels of another unsuccessful lawsuit for Philip Morris, whose Asian subsidiary lost their legal challenge against the government of Australia in December 2015. However, this most recent case is even more significant, because whereas the Australian case was thrown out on jurisdictional grounds, the Uruguay case was won on legal merit.”