Kessler Topaz is co-counsel in an investment treaty arbitration on behalf of nearly 1000 claimants against the Republic of Cyprus before the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (“ICSID”).
Claimants, nationals of Greece and Luxembourg, were all depositors or bondholders of either Cyprus Popular Bank (also known as Marfin Popular Bank or Laiki Bank) or the Bank of Cyprus, and suffered substantial losses when their bonds/deposits were confiscated as part of Cyprus’ response (known as “Plan B”) to the Cypriot financial crisis. Claimants allege that Cyprus violated its obligations under two bilateral investment treaties (the Cyprus-Greece BIT and the Belgo-Luxembourg Economic Union – Cyprus BIT). In response to the claims filed by the Claimants, Cyprus contested ICSID’s jurisdiction to hear the dispute. On February 7, 2020, in a 2-1 majority opinion, the ICSID Tribunal determined that it has proper jurisdiction over the dispute. The decision is significant in that it involves claims by a number of claimants that is well in excess of most other mass ICSID arbitrations (including being larger than two out of the three cases pursued by bondholders against Argentina following Argentina’s debt crisis in the 2000s). The dispute will now proceed to the merits stage.