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United Group and SBB initiated international investment arbitration against the Republic of Serbia before the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes in Washington (hereinafter “ICSID“).
Tensions have long been present between members of the United Group in Serbia on the one side and government officials on the other. United Group has previously addressed to the European Union with allegations that the state is conducting a campaign against United Group members in Serbia. The conflict escalated further when the United Group accused Telekom and Telenor of making a cartel agreement to disrupt SBB’s business in Serbia.
The request to initiate proceedings of the United Group was filed on 4th February and for now the details are not known, except that it is a dispute in the field of telecommunications. It is also stated that the plaintiffs United Group BV, Adria Serbia Holdco and SBB are represented by the New York law firm Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan and the local Moravcevic Vojinovic and partners AOD in cooperation with Schönherr, while for now the Republic of Serbia has not chosen a law firm to cooperate with Public attorney.
Claimants request a protection under the Bilateral Agreement on Protection and Encouragement of Investments, which was concluded between Serbia and the Netherlands in 2003 and entered into force on March 1, 2004 (hereinafter “BIT“).
It should be noted that the BIT in question stipulates that if a dispute arises between the investor and the host country, the parties to the dispute should strive to resolve it amicably. Only if the parties to the dispute are not able to resolve the dispute amicably, within three months from the day they submitted the request for peaceful settlement, the injured party has the right to initiate investment proceedings before one of the arbitration institutions provided for in the agreement.
Having in mind the above, it is to be expected that the United Group sent a request for a peaceful settlement of the dispute to Serbia no later than in October 2020, and that in the meantime no amicable settlement has been reached with the state.
For now, there is still no data on the amount of the subject claim. If Untied Group has complied with the procedure, it is expected that the Secretary of ICSID renders a decision for initiation of arbitration proceedings after which more will be known about the claim.
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