Spence International Investments, LLC, Bob F. Spence, Joseph M. Holsten, Brenda K. Copher, Ronald E. Copher, Brette E. Berkowitz, Trevor B. Berkowitz, Aaron C. Berkowitz and Glen Gremillion v. The Government of the Republic of Costa Rica, UNCITRAL, Claimant's Memorial on the Merits (April 26, 2014)
1. The Government of Costa Rica has taken some very valuable investments from the Claimants without paying for them. Over six years ago the boundaries of a national park were expanded to permit the Respondent to acquire control over the Claimants’ lands. It has been over four years since the Respondent’s creeping measures of expropriation completed the taking, thereby ending the Claimants’ ability to exercise their property rights in these investments.
2. The Claimants seek full and fair compensation for the loss of their investments, which were taken from them for the purposes of expanding the landmass of an adjoining national marine park. The Respondent has breached its CAFTA obligations to abstain from the adoption or maintenance of measures of creeping expropriation, to provide prompt, adequate and effective compensation when engaging in a direct expropriation, to provide compensation without delay, and to treat the Claimants and their investment interests in a fair and equitable manner.
3. The Claimants invested in twenty-six picturesque beachfront lots, located at Playa Ventanas and Playa Grande on Costa Rica’s Pacific coast. They enjoyed full rights of private property in their respective lots, which was extremely rare for the country as a whole. Their investments were valuable because they bordered on a national park, in a beautiful region that played host to exotic flora, fauna and animals, and which was nevertheless easily accessible and well supplied with services. The Claimants planned to develop their land both for sale and for private use, as high-end retirement and/or vacation homes. At all times, the Claimants were committed to developing their land in a manner that was not only sustainable, but was protective of one of Guanacaste’s most famous seasonal visitors: nesting Leatherback turtles.
4. The Respondent imposed its creeping measures of indirect expropriation upon the Claimants using a haphazard and unpredictable process, which was informed by two factors. First, the establishment and expansion of national parks has long been a locally popular and internationally attractive policy, bolstering political support and international financial support. However this popular policy has been pursued by the respondent without concern for the need to compensate those whose property must be taken to create the park. .Popular support attaches to park announcements – not discharging the obligation to pay for them.