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Belgian Court Confirms Arbitrability of Exclusive Distribution Agreements Governed by Foreign Law

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On 19 May 2020, the Leuven (Belgium) Enterprise Court (the Leuven Court) ruled that, following the reform of the Belgian arbitration rules in 2013, arbitration clauses in exclusive distribution agreements were valid, even if these agreements were governed by foreign law (judgment of 19 May 2020 in case A/20/00034, Akron NV v. Amphenol (Maryland) Inc.).

The judgment was given in the context of a dispute between a U.S. supplier and its former Belgian distributor following the supplier’s decision to unilaterally terminate the distributor’s distribution agreement dated 1 April 2018 for serious misconduct. While the distribution agreement contained an arbitration clause pursuant to which any dispute had to be settled by arbitration proceedings in the USA in accordance with the Commercial Arbitration Rules of the American Arbitration Association, the distributor initiated proceedings before the Leuven Court and claimed damages based on Title 3 of Book X of the Code of Economic Law (CEL), i.e., the Belgian mandatory rules on the unilateral termination of exclusive or quasi-exclusive distribution agreements of indefinite duration.READ MORE

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U.S. Supreme Court Rules on Retroactivity of New FSIA Cause of Action

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On 18 May 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court (the Supreme Court) handed down its decision in Opati v. Republic of Sudan. It ruled that a new cause of action added in the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (the FSIA), which allowed plaintiffs to seek punitive damages from foreign governments who sponsor terrorist activities, could be applied retroactively.

The case at hand relates to the 1998 Al Qaeda bombings of the U.S. Embassies in Kenya and in Tanzania.

Following these terrorist attacks, several victims sued the Sudanese government in U.S. courts claiming damages, as Sudan had allegedly supported and protected Al Qaeda.

The plaintiffs relied on an exception to the FSIA’s general rule that foreign governments enjoy immunity and cannot, in principle, be brought before U.S. courts. According to that exception, the immunity enjoyed by foreign governments does not apply to acts of terrorism and to States that sponsored such terrorist activities. However, at the time, this exception did not allow plaintiffs to seek punitive damages.READ MORE

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WTO and Multi-Party Interim Appeal Arbitration Arrangement: Searching for Right Medicine

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By Thibaud Bodson – PhD candidate at the Human Rights Under Pressure program – Freie Universität Berlin & Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The views expressed in this article are those of the authors only.

A group of World Trade Organisation’s members recently endorsed the Multi-party interim appeal arbitration arrangement. This arrangement aims to keep a two-tier adjudication system operating as long as the WTO’s Appellate Body is stalled. As such, it offers a short term fix to the jurisdictional arm whilst the membership tries to move ahead in its search for the right medicine. This blogpost discusses some of the arrangement’s main features.READ MORE

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CJEU Lacks Jurisdiction to Rule on Slovenia/Croatia Border Arbitration Dispute

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On 31 January 2020, the Grand Chamber of the Court of Justice of the European Union (the CJEU) handed down its judgment in Slovenia v. Croatia (C-457/18), declaring that the CJEU lacked jurisdiction to rule on the interpretation of an arbitral award settling the border dispute between the two countries.READ MORE

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CJEU’s Advocate General Issues Opinion on State Immunity and Summary Proceedings Involving International Organisations

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On 2 April 2020, the Advocate General[1] to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), Henrik Saugmandsgaard Øe (AG Saugmandsgaard Øe), handed down an Opinion in a case which raised very interesting issues relating to the interaction and application of Regulation (EU) No. 1215/2012 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters (the Brussels Ibis Regulation) in summary proceedings involving international organisations. The case also raised interesting issues relating to the interplay between the Brussels Ibis Regulation and the immunity enjoyed by such international organisations.READ MORE

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ECtHR Rules on Impartiality of Turkish Arbitration Proceedings for Settling Football Disputes

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On 28 January 2020, the European Court of Human Rights (the ECtHR) ruled that Turkish arbitration rules applicable to the settlement of football disputes were incompatible with Article 6 § 1 (right to a fair trial) of the European Convention of Human Rights (the ECHR).

The case originated in five applications against Turkey lodged by Ali Rıza, (a dual British and Turkish citizen), and four Turkish nationals: one football referee (downgraded from top-level assistant referee to “provincial referee”) and three amateur football players (found guilty of match-fixing charges).

All five applicants complained that the proceedings before the legal committees of the Turkish Football Federation (the TFF) had not satisfied the requirements of independence and impartiality under Article 6 § 1 ECHR.READ MORE

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Munich Court of Appeals Issues Anti-Anti-Suit Injunction in FRAND Case

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As a supplement to the blogpost published a couple of weeks ago on the judgment of the Paris Court of First Instance (Tribunal de Grande Instance) of 8 November 2019 which issued an anti-anti-suit injunction against Lenovo ordering that company to withdraw a request for an anti-suit injunction pending before a US Court, Mr Peter Bert (a reader of this blog) shared with me an article that he wrote concerning a similar case recently put before German courts.

My colleagues Steve Ross and Rebecca Halbach discussed this German case in the latest edition of Van Bael & Bellis’ Competition Law Newsletter. I have decided to reproduce their article below.

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Article drafted by Steve Ross and Rebecca Halbach

On 12 December 2019, the Munich Court of Appeals (Oberlandesgericht München) (the Court) upheld the judgment of the Munich District Court (Landgericht München I) of 2 October 2019 which had granted a preliminary injunction in a case pitting Continental (Continental), an automobile supplier, against Nokia (Nokia), a telecommunications company. The Court ordered Continental to withdraw the action for anti-suit injunction which that company had brought against Nokia before the US District Court of the Northern District of California (the US Court) in a patent dispute.READ MORE

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