Annulment of arbitral awards Archives - international litigation blog
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Annulment of arbitral awards

Comparative Analysis: Belgian and Nigerian Courts on Admission of Third Party Challenge Against Arbitral Awards

On 5 June 2017, I attended a conference in Nairobi on the development of arbitration in Africa. On this occasion, Mr Seyilayo Ojo (Senior Partner at S. O. & C. Legal in Lagos, Nigeria), who participated in a panel on the topic of “Arbitration as a Catalyst for Economic Growth on the Continent“, mentioned the so-called “FIRS” judgment rendered a couple of years ago by a Nigerian court which allowed a third party to challenge an arbitration award*.

This issue has been a hot topic for Belgian practitioners after the Belgian Constitutional Court also recently ruled that third parties should be entitled to lodge third party opposition (tierce opposition) against arbitral awards (we previously discussed this decision on this blog on 7 March 2017 and 28 March 2017). I therefore thought that it would be interesting to draw a comparative analysis between the judgment rendered by the Nigerian court and the judgment rendered by the Belgian Constitutional Court.READ MORE

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Recent Developments in Investment Disputes: ICSID, The Energy Charter Treaty, Solar Industry and FSIA

Arbitration claims for breaches of the Energy Charter Treaty have emerged in the last couple of years, as certain countries have tried to reduce or place restrictions on financially favorable regulatory measures aimed at promoting renewable energy.

Two of those arbitration cases have recently come under the spotlight and I found that it would be interesting to provide you with a general description of those two cases.READ MORE

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Yukos Case: Brussels Court of First Instance Unfreezes Russia’s Assets

On 8 June 2017, the Brussels Court of First Instance handed down its decision on the legality of the seizures of assets belonging to Russia carried out by Yukos Universal Ltd (YUL) in the context of the Belgian enforcement proceedings of the Yukos case. As you certainly know, the Yukos case refers to an arbitral saga that saw three arbitral tribunals issuing three arbitral awards which cumulatively ordered Russia, in 2014, to pay USD 50 billion as reparations for the irregularities committed during the nationalisation of the Russian oil company Yukos (click here for a report of the hearing that took place before the Brussels Court of First Instance in November 2016).

Following the issuance of the award in 2014 in its favour, YUL (one of Yukos‘s former shareholder) sought the exequatur and the enforcement of the award in several countries, including Belgium. The Belgian exequatur of the award was granted to YUL in June 2015. In addition, YUL was also allowed to freeze and seize several key assets belonging to Russia as well as assets belonging to two Russian press agencies (ITAR TASS and Ria Novosti).

As a response to those precautionary seizures, Russia filed a third-party opposition before the Brussels Court of First Instance in which it challenged the legality of those seizures. As explained earlier, Russia’s main argument in opposing those seizures was that the three awards rendered in favour of Yukos‘s former shareholders had all been annulled by the District Court of the Hague (the Netherlands being the seat of the arbitration) in April 2016. As a consequence of this judgment by the District Court of the Hague, Russia argued that the Belgian exequatur order which had initially been granted to YUL in June 2015 was null and void and YUL was thus not entitled to proceed with the seizure of Russia’s assets.

In its decision of 8 June 2017, the Brussels Court of First Instance fully sided with Russia on this point.READ MORE

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Paris Court of Appeal Endorses “Adverse Inferences” Principle

On 28 February 2017, the Paris Court of Appeal (the Court of Appeal) rendered an interesting decision endorsing the “adverse inferences” principle provided for under Article 9(5) of the IBA Rules on the Taking of Evidence in International Arbitration (the IBA Rules): “[i]f a Party fails without satisfactory explanation to produce any Document requested in a Request to Produce […] the Arbitral Tribunal may infer that such document would be adverse to the interests of that Party“.

The dispute at hand arose in the context of a share purchase agreement (the SPA) concluded between Dresser-Rand Group Inc. (the Buyer), a U.S. based company, and twelve Spanish companies (the Sellers) for the purchase of all shares in Grupo Guascor SL.READ MORE

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U.K. Supreme Court Clarifies Rules to Order Security As Condition to Challenge Arbitral Awards Enforcement Proceedings

On 1 March 2017, the U.K. Supreme Court (the Supreme Court) found that an arbitral award debtor should not be required to pay USD 100 million in security as a pre-condition to adjourn the enforcement of the arbitral award until a decision is taken on the annulment of the award.

The Supreme Court’s decision was issued in proceedings between Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and IPCO (Nigeria) Ltd (IPCO). The latter was awarded USD 152 million following arbitration proceedings seated in Nigeria. NNPC sought to set aside the award before the Nigerian courts initially on jurisdictional grounds and, from 2009 onwards, on allegations of fraud.

Meanwhile IPCO sought the enforcement of the arbitration award before the U.K. Commercial Court. This was granted on an ex parte basis, but was soon challenged by NNPC which sought to have the enforcement order set aside or adjourned, in light of NNPC’s ongoing challenge against the award in Nigeria. In response, the U.K. Commercial Court agreed to adjourn the enforcement order under section 103(5) of the U.K. Arbitration Act 1996 (the Act). This provision allows a court before which an enforcement action is pending to adjourn its decision pending the decision on the setting aside or suspension of the award at the seat of arbitration. In this case, however, the Commercial Court subjected the adjournment of the order to the payment of security worth USD 50 million, later increased to USD 80 million in 2008.READ MORE

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