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Key Decision in ICSID Cases Against Zimbabwe

July 13, 2012

In late June, another major and precedental decision was issued in Zimbabwe arbitrations involving the Swiss-German von Pezold family and its businesses, included in the  Border Timbers group, which are also claimants.  Matthew Coleman of Steptoe & Johnson (London) and Charles Owen Verrill, Jr., chairman emeritus of Wiley Rein's International Trade Practice, represent the claimants.  The decision can be read here.

The ICSID cases stem from Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe's controversial decision in 2000 that allowed the unilateral seizure of land belonging to white farmers.  The von Pezold family's lawsuit was brought under the Germany-Zimbabwe and Switzerland-Zimbabwe bilateral investment treaties (BIT).  

In the current decision, the tribunal hearing that consolidated cases, issued an order preventing the Zimbabwe Attorney General's office from searching the records of the Border Timbers companies in violation of the discovery order agreed to by the parties.  The Attorney General later conformed to the unique order issued by the tribunals, preventing actions outside of the agreed upon procedures.

Under the BIT, the Zimbabwe government promises it will pay compensation to foreign nationals in the event property is expropriated and that it will submit to an ICSID arbitration any dispute arising out of an investment in Zimbabwe. An article published by Global Arbitration Review on the von Pezold case can be read here.

Mr. Verrill represents clients on all aspects of international trade law and policy, including import and export regulation, import trade remedies, international bilateral and multilateral negotiations, international arbitration and mediation in commercial disputes.  He has been named one of the "Leaders of Their Field" for his work in Trade Remedies & Trade Policy by Chambers Global and is described as "a legend in the trade policy field."