In a historic shift, the Department of Justice's Antitrust Division will now consider providing credit to companies in the charging and sentencing stages of an antitrust criminal investigation if they have a robust and effective antitrust compliance programme. While a positive step, significant questions remain regarding the extent to which the opportunity for compliance credit will incentivise companies to self-report criminal antitrust violations and how the guidance interacts with the division's leniency programme.
The International Chamber of Commerce Commission recently published an update to its report on construction industry arbitration, focusing on recommended tools and techniques for effective management. The report is a helpful reminder for practitioners and arbitrators of the procedural mechanisms available which are particularly relevant to the conduct of arbitration in the construction sector.
The use of corporate renewable power purchase agreements (PPAs) looks set to increase in Italy. Corporate PPAs are contracts between buyers and power producers to purchase electricity at a pre-agreed price for a pre-agreed period. As the market for the development of subsidy-free renewable energy projects grows, corporate PPAs are expected to become a common part of the energy and sustainability strategies of Italian corporates.
In construction disputes, a significant amount of legal time (and therefore expense) is often spent simply locating and trying to understand the relevance of key documents because of poor document management practices throughout the project lifecycle. Establishing clear guidelines for document management and information collection is critical and will assist contractors and suppliers in making and evidencing claims in arbitration.
The expert phase is often the most critical, and sometimes costly, part of the arbitration process. Thus, choosing the right expert is crucial. This means ensuring not only that the expert has the appropriate qualifications, technical expertise and reputation in the relevant field, but also (if possible) suitable experience of the dispute process and of writing expert reports and giving evidence in adversarial proceedings. This article offers some practical tips for managing party-appointed experts in arbitrations.
The New York Appellate Division has reaffirmed that the manifest disregard doctrine is a "severely limited… doctrine of last resort" that requires more than a mere error of law to warrant vacating an arbitral award. This case involved the acquisition contracts between Daesang and NutraSweet, under which NutraSweet could rescind the deal if it was sued for antitrust law violations. After NutraSweet exercised this right, Daesang commenced an arbitration proceeding for breach of contract.
Unbeknown to many, Section 1782 of Title 28 of the US Code permits parties to obtain discovery in the United States in aid of non-US legal proceedings, including – in some instances – international arbitrations. Such discovery can include documents and sworn testimony (eg, depositions). In conducting an arbitration seated outside the United States (or other non-US legal proceedings), it is useful to understand the mechanics, requirements and key issues of Section 1782 discovery.
Construction contracts are often part of a wider suite of project contracts, involving multiple, overlapping parties. This intertwined suite of contracts means that when a dispute arises, it arises under multiple project contracts, which can be difficult to deal with. Choosing arbitration as the dispute resolution procedure for each project contract – and ensuring that the arbitration agreement in each project contract is consistent – will help parties to achieve consolidation of future disputes under different project contracts.
The assistant attorney general recently suggested that antitrust enforcers should update their analytical framework to account for modern corporate structures, signalling the potential for antitrust violations when officers and directors serve multiple competing companies. The assistant attorney general's speech is a reminder that behaviour that is not explicitly prohibited by the letter of the antitrust statutes may still raise eyebrows.
The US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) recently signed a new memorandum of cooperation to strengthen their ability to combat cartels and other anti-competitive conduct. According to the section chief of the FBI's Criminal Investigative Division, the memorandum codifies the FBI's relationship with the ACCC and provides an opportunity for increased information and resource sharing.
The Regional Administrative Court of Sardinia recently annulled the regional authority's decision to revoke authorisation for the construction and operation of a photovoltaic (PV) plant on the rooftops of agricultural greenhouses following its alleged loss of status as an agricultural company. The decision confirms that the lack of qualification as a professional agricultural entrepreneur should not jeopardise the right to operate PV plants and receive incentive tariffs on the production of renewable energy.
Second requests can be expensive, time consuming and distracting to clients' employees. One way to ease the burden of a second request is to avoid it altogether. While second requests are inevitable for some transactions, certain strategies can help to lessen the likelihood of one being issued.
Litigants often enter into settlement agreements without giving much thought to whether those agreements could form the basis for an antitrust claim – and for good reason because most settlement agreements simply resolve a dispute through money payments. However, agreements that restrict rivals' abilities to engage in advertising or other competitive activities could fall foul of the antitrust laws.
Gambia recently became the fifth nation to ratify the United Nations Convention on Transparency in Treaty-Based Investor-State Arbitration (Mauritius Convention). Eighteen other countries have signed the Mauritius Convention but have not yet ratified it. While no arbitrations subject to the convention have yet been initiated, if the current signatories were to ratify it, at least an additional 39 bilateral and multilateral treaties would become subject to the convention, unless expressly reserved.
It should be anticipated that new types of energy arbitration will emerge in 2018 and beyond, whereas others may decline. As always in the energy sector, an uncertain political landscape combined with cross-border investment in energy projects and fluctuating prices creates the model ecosystem for a whole spectrum of energy disputes to emerge globally, with arbitration remaining a key method of dispute resolution.
California Governor Jerry Brown recently signed into law Senate Bill (SB) 766, Representation by Foreign and Out-of-State Attorneys. The bill, which was passed 69-to-zero by the legislature, clarifies that foreign (ie, not licensed in the United States) and out-of-state (ie, licensed in a US jurisdiction, but not in California) attorneys can represent parties in international arbitrations in California, subject to certain conditions. SB 766 will take effect on 1 January 2019.
Repowering is the process of replacing an energy plant's original components with new ones and reconfiguring the layout in order to boost the plant's yield. Given that the regulatory framework in this regard is ambiguous, repowering works are innovative and the case law on such matters contains gaps, energy producers seeking to repower their plants are advised not to start the simplified deemed-consent procedure without obtaining prior clearance from the competent authorities.
The public policy exception to the recognition and enforcement of international arbitral awards creates uncertainty with respect to the enforcement of these awards – particularly because contracting states have diverse approaches to issues of public policy. While some jurisdictions still maintain a parochial approach, recent trends invite cautious optimism that major jurisdictions are converging in the practice of adopting a narrow interpretation of the public policy exception.
A disgruntled party on the losing end of an award will sometimes seek to have the award annulled or set aside at the seat of arbitration. However, even if such a challenge at the seat is successful, that is not necessarily the end of the matter. Awards that are seemingly 'dead and buried' can sometimes be resurrected or haunt the losing party in other jurisdictions where enforcement of the award is sought.
In recent years, many of the leading arbitral institutions have amended their rules in order to make arbitration more responsive to users' needs. A key development has been the introduction of emergency arbitrator procedures, which enable parties to obtain urgent relief before the substantive tribunal is formed. These new developments are attracting significant attention from parties and arbitrators – but have enforcement mechanisms kept pace?