Egypt facing $14 billion worth of investment lawsuits
Egypt’s government has faced 37 cases worth LE100 billion ($14.3 billion) brought by investors in both international and domestic arbitration centres in the three years since the 2011 uprising, said Ezzat Ouda, head of the state’s lawsuits authority.
In an interview with Al-Ahram's daily Arabic newspaper on Monday, Ouda said that Egypt has "won eight arbitrations worth LE10 billion ($1.4 billion)" since he took over the authority in 2013. He did not clarify which fields of investments have seen the disputes.
The Egyptian judicial institution represents the interests of the government in a variety of issues both domestically and internationally.
Ouda added that the number of actions – domestic and international – has risen vastly after the 25 January 2011 uprising. “We were witnessing two cases per year before the revolution,” he said.
Indorama Group, an Indonesian multinational textile group, initiated international arbitration against Egypt in 2011, even before a local court ordered the renationalisation of the textile firm Shebin El-Kom, which was privatised in 2007 and bought by Indorama.
In 2009, the Italian businessman Wagih Siag was compensated LE700 million ($100 million) by the Egyptian government as a result of a lawsuit he brought before the International Arbitration Centre of the World Bank in June 2007.
Reportedly, Siag went through arbitration after the Egyptian government seized a plot of his land in the South Sinai city of Taba in the 1990s under the pretext of national security, due to Siag having an Israeli company as a partner.
Earlier this month, Egypt's cabinet approved a new investment law that includes a clause preventing third parties from challenging contracts made between the government and investors – a move that seeks to prevent the kind of challenges facing the government since 2011.
Under the amended law, only the government or the investor will have the right to challenge the contract.
According to the Ouda, Egypt's courts are looking into a total of 2.5 million lawsuits against the government that have been filled by Egyptians, 500,000 of which are related to labour.
“I am calling on the state’s administrative body to settle the workers’ disputes, as mostly of them are linked to absence and salaries,” Ouda said.