Re-nationalisation of privatised assets: Labour needs to learn about TTIP and Investment Treaties

On the front page of City AM on the 14th September 2015, the newspaper reported Jeremy Corbyn as the new leader of the Labour party had appointed as shadow chancellor John McDonnell. The new shadow Chancellor had said a Corbyn-led government would reserve the right to re-nationalise privatised assets without compensating investors, he told the Observer newspaper in August:

“Let’s make it absolutely clear to any speculators in the City...that if any of these assets are sold by Osborne under their value, a future Corbyn-led Labour government will reserve the right to bring them back into public ownership with either no compensation or with any undervaluation deducted from any compensation for re-nationalisation”.

Possibly neither Mr. Corbyn or Mr. McDonnell as leaders of Labour’s front bench have yet taken on board the possibility of this becoming a “boomerang” policy, if ever enacted since the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership treaty (TTIP) that the UK Government are supporting for the EU to enter into with the USA, contains substantial provisions giving remedies to investors who have acquired assets that have been privatised to prevent them being re-nationalised or to require payment of market price compensation; and the United Kingdom have entered into more than 100 Bilateral Investment Treaties with other countries of the world that allow overseas investors to claim full compensation for nationalization without compensation. If these items become Labour policy and they are enacted by any Labour government that ever gets elected, it may prove enormously expensive for the UK.

For details of the investor protections provided by such investment treaties click here. Anyone who holds any such assets, and who is worried such Labour threats may come to pass, should look to gain the benefit of treaty protection by placing them in overseas companies in treaty protected countries