Although the COVID-19 pandemic's full impact on the world economy remains unclear, a global surge in insolvency is expected in 2021 and 2022. A party's insolvency can affect pending and future arbitrations, which will generally depend on whether the insolvency occurs before, during or after the arbitration. However, early comprehension of certain basic factors might mitigate future risks ensuing from a counterparty's insolvency.
The Court of Cassation recently issued its decision in the ongoing Schooner saga, agreeing with the applicants that the Court of Appeal violated the Code of Civil Procedure (CCP) by preventing them from raising jurisdictional arguments in annulment proceedings. This appears to be the first time that the Court of Cassation has explicitly held that Article 1466 of the CCP does not prevent parties from raising new jurisdictional arguments at the annulment stage.
A German electricity generation company recently filed a request for arbitration against the Netherlands at the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes. The application is based on the Dutch government's decision to phase out coal for electricity generation. The company has invoked an investor-state dispute settlement clause in the Energy Charter Treaty, which the European Union co-signed on behalf of the Netherlands. This marks the first investment arbitration against the Netherlands.
In the ongoing dispute between Ecuador and US energy multinational Chevron Corporation, The Hague District Court was again called upon to consider whether an award issued pursuant to the US-Ecuador bilateral investment treaty could be set aside. The ruling confirms The Hague court's positive view of investment arbitration and orders which are rather unconventional in such arbitration.
Under Article 1526 of the Code of Civil Procedure, if an award's enforcement is likely to severely harm the rights of one of the parties, such enforcement may be stayed or amended. This article clarifies the conditions which must be met for Article 1526 to apply and sets out the evolution of the courts' interpretation of the notion of severe harm to the rights of one of the parties.
The International Chamber of Commerce has updated its arbitration rules with effect from 1 January 2021 and applying to all cases registered from that date. These modifications are relatively subtle, aimed at streamlining the overall arbitral process. By expressly outlining certain procedural powers which had been arguably uncertain, the risk of disruption from parties' intent on delay should also be reduced. These updates are consistent with the chamber's efforts to control time and costs.
The COVID-19 pandemic has undeniably disrupted the performance of contracts. Although the Paris Commercial Court has ruled the pandemic to be a force majeure event in a commercial contract, this characterisation may not be retained in all situations. This article provides helpful tips to keep in mind when analysing a contractual situation, in light of French law specificities that might be unknown to foreign companies or counsel involved in arbitration proceedings to which French law applies.
The First Civil Chamber of the Court of Cassation recently overruled a Paris Court of Appeal decision and determined that there was no basis for the argument that Antrix Corporation Ltd had not made certain procedural objections during arbitration and therefore could not raise them in enforcement proceedings. The decision raises interesting questions about the nature of the 'waiver' contemplated in the Code of Civil Procedure.
The International Chamber of the Paris Court of Appeal recently rendered five decisions on setting-aside proceedings against five awards issued in the same arbitration. It was alleged that the tribunal had been improperly constituted as a party-appointed arbitrator had failed to disclose information that affected his independence and impartiality. Although this decision confirms the existing jurisprudence, the question of the exact scope of arbitrators' duty to disclose remains.
In recent setting aside proceedings, The Hague Court of Appeal had to decide whether an arbitral award issued in proceedings under the International Chamber of Commerce Arbitration Rules had to be set aside due to the fact that the award was contrary to public policy. In its assessment, the court took a bold approach. The decision demonstrates that while the court is conscious of the competence and authority of arbitral tribunals, it will assess a case individually and fully when it comes to public policy.
The Paris Court of Appeal recently clarified the scope of application of Article 1466 of the Code of Civil Procedure and for the first time confirmed that Article 1466 can also limit a party's ability to seek annulment based on a variety of arguments, whether relating to procedural irregularities or otherwise, that could have been raised in the arbitration.
In 2018 the government adopted its new model bilateral investment treaty (BIT). Following this adoption, the government has now obtained the authorisation required to start the renegotiations with eight non-EU countries and conclude new BITs with two others. The government has made clear that the new model BIT is intended to serve as an opening offer that sets the scene for the negotiations. However, as each negotiation will have its own dynamic, it is difficult to predict what the new Dutch BITs will look like.
The Court of Cassation recently confirmed the quasi-absolute priority given to arbitral tribunals to determine questions relating to their jurisdiction, even when this involves rules of French public order. Although this is well established in French case law, it is the first time that the court has upheld an arbitration clause that conferred on a tribunal the statutory power to value shares in lieu of a party-appointed or judicially appointed expert.
The Amsterdam Court of Appeal recently had to decide on an application for recognition and enforcement of an online arbitral award regarding a loan in bitcoins. To date, this has been a subject that the Dutch courts have seldom encountered. Notably, the Amsterdam Court of Appeal took a critical approach in what may be considered a test case for recognition and enforcement of online arbitral awards in the Netherlands.
The Netherlands Arbitration Institute (NAI) recently introduced a new transparency policy, which aims to enhance the transparency of arbitral proceedings without harming their confidential nature. This is a promising step by the NAI, which will hopefully contribute to a more cost-effective, efficient and credible arbitration practice in the Netherlands.
In June 2018 a new arbitration court specialised in art-related disputes was launched in The Hague. The court, which offers an attractive and efficient dispute resolution mechanism for cross-border art-related disputes, was founded by the Netherlands Arbitration Institute (NAI) in collaboration with Authentication in Art. According to the NAI's website, it has now started accepting arbitrator and mediator applications for the Court of Arbitration for Art.
The US District Court for the District of Columbia recently lifted a stay of proceedings to confirm an award issued by an ad hoc tribunal in Paris under the Energy Charter Treaty. The district court noted that the French Court of Cassation had overturned a decision of the Paris Court of Appeal setting aside the award. This article revisits the relevant facts and issues that gave rise to the setting aside of the award in France, and the subsequent reversal at the highest instance.
The government recently adopted its new model bilateral investment treaty (BIT). The proposed changes, which are likely to limit investor protection, have now been incorporated, together with additional important amendments. The model BIT reflects two government objectives: a sustainable investment policy and a better balance between the rights and obligations of both states and investors.
Consistent with France's reputation as a pro-arbitration jurisdiction, the French civil courts' review of arbitral awards on grounds of public policy is traditionally limited in terms of both standard and content. However, in recent years, the scope of the courts' review in this regard has been tested in certain Paris Court of Appeal decisions which reviewed the underlying evidence rather than the arbitral tribunal's own determinations in the relevant award.
A consultation process on the new draft Dutch model bilateral investment treaty (BIT) recently ended. The government is expected to publish the finalised text of the new model BIT later in 2018. The new model will serve as the basis for renegotiation of the 79 BITs that the Netherlands has with states outside the European Union. Among other things, it proposes significant changes to the conduct of arbitral proceedings.