Costa Rica attained an important legal triumph in international headquarters, after a lawsuit filed by US investors more than four years ago. The International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) ruled in favor of the Costa Rican State.
The case began in September 2013, when businessmen led by David Richard Aven believed national authorities gave them unfair treatment during the development of a real estate project in the Esterillos Beach area, in Central Pacific. They also claimed that the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) was violated with their country, for which they demanded payment of $70 million.
The Ministry of Foreign Trade (COMEX) added that the complainants alleged arbitrary actions when the authorities suspended environmental feasibility permits in the 39-hectare tourism project.
As CRHoy.com reported in July 2014, everything started in 2002 when they bought 39 hectares in Esterillos Oeste and included a beach concession of more than two hectares. The businessmen claimed that the necessary permits were obtained from the National Environmental Technical Secretariat (Setena), so they began to build, since there were no rivers, protected forests or wetlands.
COMEX stated that the guarantees were suspended due to the identification of several wetlands and forests located on the land to be developed that had been affected by the complainants.
The amount claimed already amounted to $ 103.5 million, according to the Ministry. In addition, the ICSID ordered the complainants to pay the government of Costa Rica $1,090,905 for the expenses incurred in the process. The Court accepted the argument that there were, indeed, wetlands and forest on the site.
The Executive Branch described the event as “transcendental” and said that it confirms
“the quality of Costa Rica as an investment recipient, always honoring the commitments to provide clear rules that we have contracted with our international partners.”
The ruling will be final in three months, when notified. Some of the parties could request that the process be annulled.
The Minister of Foreign Trade, Dyalá Jiménez, highlighted the tenacious and excellent work of an interdisciplinary team.
Our country is committed to a State of Law, respectful of the rights of nationals and foreigners, maintaining our environmental standards that have always characterized us nationally and internationally,”
The law firm Herberth-Smith Freehills was in charge of defending the case. Officials from the Ministry of Environment and Energy, the Attorney General’s Office, the Judicial Branch, the Municipality of Parrita, the Ombudsman’s Office, and experts in various areas such as wetlands, soils, and environmental engineering also participated.
Costa Rica has had to pay millions in legal defense in international headquarters, especially in the ICSID. The most recent was filed by the mining company Industrias Infinito for the Crucitas project, which is still ongoing.