Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Wednesday, 22 September 2021

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation

EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement: Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment

Photo of Louise O'ReillyLouise O'Reilly (Dublin Fingal, Sinn Fein)
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Is the Minister concerned at all about the introduction of the ICS into our legal system? It is clear that it will put the interests of corporations above those of ordinary people and the rights of people living here. It is not right or sensible to solidify a situation whereby corporations can sue national governments. We know this has happened. The Australian Government was sued for hundreds of millions of dollars by Philip Morris for implementing plain packaging. The Canadian Government has also been sued multiple times by Eli Lilly and Company and in other instances.

A special court for corporations will act as a major deterrent for Government in passing laws that might benefit citizens but may not benefit corporations. It will have a chilling effect on the likelihood of those laws going through because there is a chance that the Government will be sued for hundreds of millions of euro, in some instances, by large global multinational corporations with deep pockets. We do not want a situation whereby, let us say, the Government wants to tax vulture funds, and it is a case of, "Sorry, lads, we cannot do that; we might get sued." Conflicts may arise where a separate ICS specifically for corporations puts their interests ahead of those of the people.

Is the Minister concerned in the slightest about it? Is he quite satisfied that there is no possible detrimental impact from this? When I look at it, I see investor courts - special courts for corporations - putting their interests above the rights and entitlements of our citizens. That concerns me. It would worry me if the Minister was not concerned about that.