More than A$50 million of taxpayer money is expected to go up in smoke as the Australian government defends cigarette standardized packaging in a secretive international tribunal in Singapore, according to a story by Andrew Probyn for the West Australian.
But costs will become much higher if Australia loses its first defence that Philip Morris indulged in ‘venue shopping’ by shifting its headquarters to Hong Kong to sue Australia.
Australia alleges that Philip Morris, in anticipation of the then Labor government’s standardized packaging legislation in 2011, restructured itself so that its Australian subsidiary became wholly owned by the Hong Kong-based Philip Morris Asia.
This allowed Philip Morris to sue Australia under investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) provisions of a 1993 bilateral agreement between Australia and Hong Kong that allowed compensation for ‘expropriation’ of investments.
A spokesman for Philip Morris was quoted as saying that governments had the right to “experiment” with taxpayers’ money but should not be surprised when companies and countries asserted their rights.
“Philip Morris is seeking compensation from the Australian Government for its plain packaging experiment which deprives us of our brands and intellectual property, and for treating Philip Morris and its investments unfairly and inequitably through changing arbitrarily our legal and regulatory environment,” the spokesman said.
“Our claims address the unlawfulness of the expropriation of property and do not question the need for comprehensive regulation of tobacco products.”
The full story is at: https://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/wa/a/29064155/tobacco-giant-sues-australia/.