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international litigation blog

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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


U.S. Supreme Court Expected to Rule on FSIA Pleading Standards and Expropriation Exception

On 2 November 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court (the Supreme Court) heard the oral arguments in a case where it was asked to clarify the pleading standards and the “expropriation” exception of the U.S. Foreign Sovereign Immunity Act of 1976 (FSIA).

The case arose in the context of a dispute between Helmerich & Payne International (HMI) – an American company – and Helmerich & Payne de Venezuela (HMV) – a subsidiary of HMI incorporated under the laws of Venezuela – on one hand, and the Venezuelan government and the national petroleum company PDVSA, on the other hand.READ MORE


English High Court Rules on Recovery of Third Party Funding Costs in Arbitration Proceedings

On 15 September 2016, the English High Court (the Court) dismissed a request to set aside an arbitral award under section 68(2)(b) of the U.K. Arbitration Act 1996 (the Act), holding that a sole arbitrator in an ICC arbitration did not commit a “serious irregularity” by including the costs of a third party funder within a costs award. The ICC arbitration was seated in England and was therefore subject to the Act.

The case arose out of arbitration proceedings brought by Norscot Rig Management Pvt Limited (Norscot) against Essar Oilfields Services Limited (Essar) for repudiatory breach of an operations management agreement. The arbitrator, who was highly critical of Essar’s conduct towards Norscot, awarded the latter various sums, including the costs of third party litigation funding which it had obtained in order to bring the arbitration.READ MORE