Baccy companies to sue

Tobacco companies are preparing to launch what could be one of the biggest ever legal claims against the British Government for losses as a result of the introduction of plain packaging for cigarettes.

They are expected to begin lodging papers at the High Court as early as Friday, seeking a multi-billion compensation payout for being stripped of the right to use instantly recognisable brands.

Lawyers will argue that forcing them to use entirely unbranded packaging would amount to deprivation of a highly valuable intellectual property.

And here’s the interesting thing. They’re not using any of the ISDS routines written into trade law. Just an old fashioned approach to the old fashioned courts.

Perhaps we should have a competition with bonus points for the spotting of outraged articles that manage to miss this? Doulble points of course for people wo argue that this is a reason not to have ISDS in trade deals. When, of course, it means the opposite. If this is a right that investors here get through our own courts, not the ISDS, then that the ISDS extends such rights to people in places where the courts aren’t trustworthy is a good, not bad, idea.

Note that I’m not saying that either the claim, the idea of such a claim, nor this case, are good or bad ideas: only on the sturcture here.

5 comments on “Baccy companies to sue

  1. Is this of the form that “if the law protects a scumbag like me” sort of thing?

  2. For anyone else who has not come across Investor-state dispute settlement before, it “grants an investor the right to use dispute settlement proceedings against a foreign government”.

    I love this site, Tim, because I get to learn so much stuff outside my previously limited interests and I don’t have to wade through dense papers to get it.

  3. P-G, I think so. It’s pretty myopic and inconsistent of protesters to claim democratically elected government decisions shouldn’t be subject to challenge.

  4. I think I read on this blog that the Australian experiment has shown plain packaging does NOT reduce consumption. In which case: what ” highly valuable intellectual property”?

  5. Tobacco companies always claim that their expensive brands are used to tempt smokers to switch rather than encourage new smokers to take up the habit, so that is the ”highly valuable intellectual property”.

    Also, counterfeiting is made a lot easier when packets all have the same hideous images on and, in addition, smuggling reduces the market for legitimate products.

    And that is the key thing: Tobacco is a legitimate product. If governments wish to stop people smoking they should make all tobacco products illegal. Like grass or skunk or coke or heroin and stuff. That’ll fix it.

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