Off the Beaten Track into the Savannah: The Mike Campbell (Pvt) Ltd v The Republic of Zimbabwe Ruling Imperils SADC Investment Law

Authors Tawanda Hondora

ISSN: 2026-8556
Affiliations: None
Source: SADC Law Journal, The, 2013, p. 23 – 58


This article considers the investment law implications of the celebrated case of Mike Campbell (Pvt) Ltd and 78 Others v The Republic of Zimbabwe. In its decision, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Tribunal declared that the 79 applicants, among which were 28 private limited companies and their shareholders: (i) had been subjected to unlawful race discrimination; (ii) had been unlawfully denied access to the courts of Zimbabwe; and (iii) were entitled to be paid ‘fair compensation’ for farms expropriated by the respondent State. This article argues that the Campbell case was wrongly decided. Contrary to the Tribunal’s decision under international law: (a) a company — such as Mike Campbell (Pvt) Ltd — cannot assert a race discrimination claim; (b) a shareholder in a company — such as William Michael Campbell — does not have a cause of action or jus standi against a State in a claim seeking compensation for property expropriated from the company, except where the company has been wound up, the direct rights of the shareholder — qua shareholder — have been breached, or a specific and enabling investment treaty applies to the dispute; and (c) a State is not required to pay ‘fair compensation’ or ‘prompt, adequate and effective compensation’ to its national from whom it has expropriated property. Although decided using international human rights law principles, the Campbell ruling is relevant to, and will imperil, SADC investment law, if it is treated as persuasive authority.