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

EU General Court Annuls Micula State Aid Decision

On 18 June 2019, the General Court of the European Union (the General Court) handed down its long-awaited judgment in the Micula case.

As we discussed before, this case finds its origins in the investment made by the Miculas, two investors of Swedish nationality, in the food production sector in Romania in the 1990s. At the time of investment they relied on numerous tax incentives regimes that Romania had put in place in order to attract foreign investment.

In 2005, as Romania prepared to accede to the European Union, the tax incentives were revoked in an effort to conform to EU law on State aid.

The Miculas then instituted ICSID proceedings against Romania based on the Romania-Sweden Bilateral Investment Treaty, arguing that the revocation of the tax incentives constituted a breach of their rights under that treaty. The arbitral tribunal issued its award in 2013, holding that by revoking the incentives, Romania had indeed failed to award the claimants fair and equitable treatment. The arbitral tribunal awarded the Miculas EUR 180 million.

In 2015, the European Commission handed down a decision (the 2015 EU decision) declaring that the ICSID award in favour of the Miculas amounted to State aid. The 2015 EU decision required Romania to refrain from paying the amount due under the award. The Commission also ordered Romania to recover any compensation already awarded to the Miculas.

The Miculas sought to challenge this 2015 EU decision before the General Court.READ MORE

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Paris Court of Appeal Confirms Extensive Role of International Public Policy in Arbitral Awards Annulment Proceedings

On 16 January 2018, the Paris Court of Appeal (the Court of Appeal) rendered an interesting decision in which it applied the international public policy doctrine to annul an ICC arbitral award rendered in 2015 in a dispute between a Russian company (MK Group) and Ukrainian companies (including Onix). The case concerned the litigious transfer of 60% of the shares of Dao Lao (Dao Lao), a Laotian company active in gold mining in Laos.READ MORE

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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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French “Tribunal des Conflits” Rules on Jurisdiction to Enforce Arbitral Award Relating to Public Law Contracts

In a decision of 24 April 2017, the French Tribunal des conflits ruled on the issue of whether the French civil courts or the French administrative courts have jurisdiction to enforce arbitral awards relating to public and administrative law.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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