Philip Morris Brands Sàrl, Philip Morris Products S.A. and Abal Hermanos S.A. v. Oriental Republic of Uruguay
After passing a series of tobacco control laws, Uruguay instituted two additional regulations on tobacco packaging in 2009. The first requires graphic health warnings on 80% of the front and back of all tobacco products. The second restricts each brand to a single presentation, in order to prohibit brand variants that mislead consumers about the relative safety of tobacco products. Uruguay adopted these policies after the tobacco industry attempted to circumvent Uruguay’s ban on the use of the deceptive terms “light,” “low tar” and “mild” by using color-coded brand names such as “Marlboro Green (Fresh Mint).” Philip Morris affiliates challenged the regulations in Uruguay's domestic courts, but the Supreme Court upheld them as constitutional.
In addition to the domestic constitutional challenge, Philip Morris affiliates are challenging the regulations as allegedly violating a bilateral investment treaty between Switzerland and Uruguay. An arbitration panel, established under the International Centre on Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), decided that it had jurisdiction to hear this case in July 2013 and instructed the parties to prepare substantive arguments in the case. The decision on jurisdiction did not discuss the merits of the case.