Ballantine v. The Dominican Republic (PCA Case No. 2016.17)
Arnold & Porter secured an investment arbitration victory for its client the Dominican Republic, obtaining a dismissal of all claims on jurisdictional grounds in an arbitral award issued September 3, 2019. The arbitration was filed by dual US-Dominican nationals, Michael and Lisa Ballantine, under the Dominican Republic-Central America Free Trade Agreement (DR-CAFTA), to which the United States is a party. The Ballantines alleged that the Dominican Republic had violated DR-CAFTA by declining to grant them environmental permits for a real estate project in the Dominican mountains. In what appears to be an unprecedented ruling, the arbitral tribunal declined jurisdiction on the basis that at the relevant times the “dominant and effective” nationality of the Ballantines had been that of the Dominican Republic. Under the longstanding principle of international law that individuals cannot file international claims against their own State, the Ballantines were barred from pursuing treaty claims against the Dominican Republic.