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French Conseil d’État Clarifies Standard of Review in Arbitral Awards Annulment Proceedings

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On 9 November 2016, the French Conseil d’État (the Conseil d’État), the French Administrative Supreme Court, ruled on the standard of review to be applied by French administrative courts in actions to set aside international arbitral awards.

Under French law, an action to set aside an arbitral award should, in principle, be brought before a civil court (i.e. the Court of Appeal of the place where the award is made). However, French administrative courts have jurisdiction to hear actions to set aside arbitral awards relating to administrative contracts.

The case at hand helps clarify the uncertainty concerning the standard of review to be applied by these administrative courts.READ MORE

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New York District Court Finds Section 1782 Applicable to Arbitral Tribunals… but What Kind of Arbitral Tribunals?

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Happy New Year!

After having spent the last weeks of 2016 reporting on the Belgian aspects of the enforcement proceedings of the Yukos awards, I wanted to share some thoughts with you on a recent development that took place on the other side of the Atlantic.

On 16 November 2016, the District Court for the Southern District of New York (the S.D.N.Y), handed down its decision in In Re Ex Parte Application of Kleimar N.V. This decision adds up to the relatively large number of federal district court cases which have – following the U.S. Supreme Court’s judgment in Intel v. AMD – showed a willingness to consider arbitral tribunals to be included within the meaning of 28 U.S.C. Section 1782 (Section 1782).

Section 1782 is a U.S. Federal Statute that allows a litigant before a “foreign or international tribunal” outside the United States to apply to the U.S. district courts to obtain discovery against a person or entity residing or found in the district where the application is sought. The questions of whether this federal statute also applies in arbitration proceedings and whether arbitral tribunals fall within the category of “international tribunal” within the meaning of Section 1782 remain, however, uncertain.READ MORE

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Belgian Court Dismisses Russia’s Attempt to Block Yukos Awards Enforcement Proceedings

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Despite the fact that I had initially told myself that I would not write about the Yukos (Yukos) case before 2017, my wish has evaporated after the Brussels Court of First Instance handed down its judgment on the matter earlier than expected (click here, for an analysis of the background of the case).

In short, in its judgment of 9 December 2016, the Brussels Court of First Instance found that Russia’s attempt to block the enforcement of Yukos Universal Ltd (YUL)’s award was inadmissible. Unfortunately (for the sake of the debate) the court therefore didn’t examine the merits of the case.READ MORE

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Yukos Awards Enforcement Proceedings – The Belgian Aspects (Part 4 – The Seizures)

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Last but not least, here’s the fourth (and final) article devoted to the Belgian enforcement proceedings in the Yukos (Yukos) case.

As mentioned in previous posts, this last article is devoted to the proceedings in which Russia challenged the legality of seizures, carried out by Yukos Universal Ltd (YUL), of assets belonging to the Russian Federation or to State-related entities.READ MORE

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Yukos Awards Enforcement Proceedings – The Belgian Aspects (Part 3 – The Merits of the Case)

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Without further delay, here’s the third article (of four) devoted to the hearing held in Brussels at the end of November on the exequatur of the award rendered in Yukos Universal Ltd (YUL)’s favour. For background information on the Yukos (Yukos) case, please click here, while for information regarding the inadmissibility objection raised by YUL against Russia’s third-party opposition, please click here.

As of today, with the notable exception of France, where a court recently ruled that the French enforcement proceedings could move forward (see here), most of the enforcement proceedings regarding the awards rendered in the Yukos cases have been brought to a halt following the judgment of the District Court of the Hague of 20 April 2016 which annulled those awards.

In Belgium, however, the question regarding the validity of those enforcement proceedings remains open.READ MORE

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Yukos Awards Enforcement Proceedings – The Belgian Aspects (Part 2 – YUL’s Inadmissibility Objection Against Russia’s Third-Party Opposition)

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As mentioned in my previous post (see here), legal proceedings are currently under way in Belgium where Yukos Universal Ltd (YUL) – one of the former shareholders of the Russian oil company Yukos (Yukos) – seeks the enforcement of one of the three arbitral awards which were rendered in July 2014. As explained in my previous post, those three awards cumulatively ordered Russia to pay USD 50 billion for breach of the Energy Charter Treaty when it sought to nationalise Yukos’s assets in the early 2000’s.

The Belgian exequatur of the award rendered in YUL’s favour was initially granted by the Brussels Court of First Instance on 24 June 2015. However, this had been done through a unilateral process which did not allow Russia to take part in the proceedings and to make itself heard. Subsequently, Russia filed a third-party opposition against the order of the Court of First Instance which had granted the exequatur of the award. This third-party opposition had the effect of bringing the parties back before the Brussels Court of First Instance for a new hearing and new debates.READ MORE

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Yukos Awards Enforcement Proceedings – The Belgian Aspects (Part 1 – The Background)

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On 21, 24, 25 and 28 November 2016, the Brussels Court of First Instance heard the arguments of the parties to the Belgian enforcement proceedings of one of the three arbitral awards which cumulatively ordered Russia, in 2014, to pay USD 50 billion to the benefit of former shareholders of the Russian oil company Yukos (Yukos).

The origins of this case date back to the dissolution of the Soviet Union when Yukos became Russia’s largest and first fully-privatized oil company. In 2003, however, Russia alleged that Yukos had engaged in a series of tax-avoidance schemes whereby huge amounts of capital were being transferred to off-shore holdings located in tax havens. Consequently, it commenced a series of measures aimed at re-appropriating the company’s assets which ultimately led to Yukos’s nationalisation.READ MORE

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