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Brussels Court of Appeal Rules FIFA and UEFA Arbitration Clauses Inapplicable

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On 29 August 2018, in a case involving FIFA (the International Football Association) and UEFA (the European Football Association), the Brussels Court of Appeal (the Court of Appeal), issued an important decision refusing to refer the dispute to arbitration despite the existence of arbitration clauses providing for the jurisdiction of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).READ MORE

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After Token Rush: International Litigation and Initial Coin Offerings (ICO) – Part 2

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This article considers some of the international litigation questions that arise out of Initial Coin Offering (ICO).

In the first part of this article, we discussed in particular issues relating to jurisdiction. We now continue this discussion while also considering questions relating to applicable laws.

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Issues of jurisdiction are made somewhat more complex by the circumstance that many ICO’s general terms and conditions (TnC) contain clauses that may directly or indirectly affect the jurisdiction of courts. In this respect, the most obviously relevant type of agreement are forum selection clauses; in the case of the Tezos ICO, for instance, the TnC specified that “(a)ny dispute arising out of or in connection with the creation of the [tokens] and the development and execution of the Tezos Network shall be exclusively and finally settled by the ordinary courts of Zug, Switzerland“. As noted by the District Judge denying the motion to dismiss, this is best understood not as a “clickwrap agreement“, but as a “browsestrap” one: when subscribing, investors were not asked to check a box indicating consent to the TnC, but simply enabled to retrieve the TnC on the website advertising the ICO. In order to determine whether the forum selection clause is binding, hence, a case-by-case assessment is necessary, evaluating whether – given the circumstances of the case, such as the structure of the website – it is reasonable to expect that users in general accessed the TnC, and whether the claimant(s) in particular had any demonstrable knowledge of the contents of the TnC.READ MORE

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After Token Rush: International Litigation and Initial Coin Offerings (ICO) – Part 1

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Between the end of 2016 and the beginning of 2017, many things that we thought were impossible happened. Among them was the meteoric rise of Initial Coin Offerings (ICO), an unprecedented development in the fields of venture capital, blockchain technologies and corporate finance law. This post considers some of the international litigation questions that arise out of the phenomenon, especially in light of the recent proliferation of ICO-related court cases.READ MORE

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International Litigation Blog Expands to New Contributors and Opens Twitter Account

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Dear Readers,

As summer is fading away and people get back to business after their holiday period, I am happy to announce two significant developments to the International Litigation Blog.

First, I am delighted to welcome five outstanding new contributors with significant expertise in the field of transnational litigation and arbitration:

Isabelle Van Damme (counsel at Van Bael & Bellis and former référendaire at the Court of Justice of the European Union);

Pietro Ortolani (Radboud University, Nijmegen, and former researcher in international law and arbitration at the Max Planck Institute, Luxembourg);

Holger Hestermeyer (King’s College, London);

Julian Arato (Brooklyn Law School); and

Ricardo Ampuero Llerena (President of the Peruvian Commission on Investments).

These five contributors will be invited on a periodic basis to share with us some thoughts and developments on topics of their choice relating to international litigation and arbitration. Given their impressive knowledge and experience in those fields, I am confident that we will all greatly benefit from their insights and views. For more information about them, I invite you to read their full biographies in the “About The Authors” section above.

To give you a taste, Pietro will open the floor tomorrow with a contribution covering the international litigation aspects arising in the context of blockchain and Initial Coin Offering.

Second, I am very happy to announce the launch of a Twitter account which will allow the blog to gain visibility. The goal of this Twitter account is to facilitate the sharing of blog posts and other significant news in the field of international litigation. So, don’t hesitate to follow us there too.

Happy reading!

Quentin

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English High Court Rules on Anti-Suit Injunctions and Disregards AG Wathelet’s Opinion in Gazprom

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On 6 June 2018, the English High Court (the Court) ruled in Nori Holding Limited et al. that a European court was not entitled to grant anti-suit injunctions in order to prevent parallel judicial proceedings taking place in another EU Member State. The Court’s judgment is in line with the West Tankers ruling handed down by the Court of Justice of the European Union (the CJEU) in 2009.READ MORE

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Does Achmea Invalidates All Intra-EU BITs? Not necessarily!

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On 19 June 2018, the European Commission published a communication on the protection of intra-EU investments (the Communication).

One important take-away from this Communication is the implication that the European Commission draws from the judgment handed down by the Court of the Justice of the European Union (the CJEU) in Achmea.

According to the Commission:

In the Achmea judgment the Court of Justice ruled that the investor-to-State arbitration clauses laid down in intra-EU BITs undermine the system of legal remedies provided for in the EU Treaties and thus jeopardise the autonomy, effectiveness, primacy and direct effect of Union law and the principle of mutual trust between the Member States. Recourse to such clauses undermines the preliminary ruling procedure provided for in Article 267 TFEU, and is not compatible with the principle of sincere cooperation. This implies that all investor-State arbitration clauses in intra-EU BITS are inapplicable and that any arbitration tribunal established on the basis of such clauses lacks jurisdiction due to the absence of a valid arbitration agreement. As a consequence, national courts are under the obligation to annul any arbitral award rendered on that basis and to refuse to enforce it. Member States that are parties to pending cases, in whatever capacity, must also draw all necessary consequences from the Achmea judgment. Moreover, pursuant to the principle of legal certainty, they are bound to formally terminate their intra-EU BITs.

The Achmea judgment is also relevant for the investor-State arbitration mechanism established in Article 26 of the Energy Charter Treaty as regards intra-EU relations. This provision, if interpreted correctly, does not provide for an investor-State arbitration clause applicable between investors from a Member States of the EU and another Member States of the EU. Given the primacy of Union law, that clause, if interpreted as applying intra-EU, is incompatible with EU primary law and thus inapplicable. Indeed, the reasoning of the Court in Achmea applies equally to the intra-EU application of such a clause which, just like the clauses of intra-EU BITs, opens the possibility of submitting those disputes to a body which is not part of the judicial system of the EU. The fact that the EU is also a party to the Energy Charter Treaty does not affect this conclusion: the participation of the EU in that Treaty has only created rights and obligations between the EU and third countries and has not affected the relations between the EU Member States.” (emphasis added)

In the Q&A that accompanied the Communication, the European Commission also emphasised that the Achmea judgment does not have consequences for agreements with third countries. According to the Commission, Achmeaonly concerns intra-EU disputes” and “different legal considerations apply to external EU investment policies“.

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Shortly after the publication of the judgment in Achmea, my colleague Isabelle Van Damme and I published a first article in which we analysed the potential consequences of this judgment for CETA, for the proposed Multilateral Investment Court and for future EU trade and investment agreements (including the future agreement between the European Union and the United Kingdom).

Today, I (provocatively) develop that analysis further by arguing that, contrary to the position expressed by the European Commission in its Communication and in the Q&A, the findings of the CJEU in Achmea might not necessarily mark the end of (arbitration clauses in) all intra-EU bilateral investment treaties (intra-EU BITs)*. In addition, I also argue that, in some aspects, Achmea might also affect other types of international agreements concluded by the EU or other BITs concluded by EU Member States with one or more non-EU countries (extra-EU BITs).READ MORE

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CJEU Clarifies EU Jurisdictional Rules in Antitrust Damages Claims

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On 5 July 2018, the Court of Justice of the European Union (the CJEU) handed down an interesting decision in which it clarified the rules governing court jurisdiction in damages claims resulting from anticompetitive conduct.

In the case at hand, FlyLaL – a Lithuanian airline – brought a claim before the Lithuanian courts against Air Baltic and Riga airport (two Latvian companies) seeking compensation for alleged anticompetitive conduct. More particularly, FlyLaL argued that Air Baltic had abused its dominant position by engaging in predatory pricing on certain routes departing from and arriving at Vilnius airport. FlyLaL also argued that those predatory practices were the result of an anticompetitive agreement entered into between Air Baltic and Riga airport whereby Air Baltic benefited from discounts of 80% on fees for aircraft take-off, landing and security services offered by Riga airport. The savings made on those services allowed Air Baltic to fund its predatory prices which affected FlyLaL.

Relying on Article 2 of the now repealed Council Regulation (EC) No 44/2001 of 22 December 2000 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters (the Brussels I Regulation) which provides that “persons domiciled in a Member State shall, whatever their nationality, be sued in the courts of that Member State“, both Air Baltic and Riga airport raised objections claiming that the Lithuanian courts lacked international jurisdiction and that the claim should have been brought before the Latvian courts instead.READ MORE

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