Plain packaging fight didn’t end in the High Court

In 2012, the High Court ruled that the Gillard Government’s laws mandating plain cigarette packaging were constitutionally valid. However, the tobacco industry has taken the dispute to international arbitration, arguing that restrictions on the sale of cigarettes are in breach of Australia’s free trade agreements. According to Mike Seccombe, these costly dispute-settlement procedures “have become a means by which big corporations, and often the home countries of those big corporations (notably the United States) seek to subvert the national sovereignty of other countries.” He says that as a result, many countries, including Australia, are questioning whether arbitration processes should be included in future trade treaties.