international arbitration

As of January 2024, France, Germany and Poland have officially withdrawn from the Energy Charter Treaty (ECT). Their decision to withdraw from the treaty follows a recent European Commission proposal for a mass exodus from the ECT by EU member states, which effectively will limit protections granted by the treaty previously enjoyed by direct investors and asset managers with portfolio companies in the energy sector. 

The Eleventh Circuit upheld an arbitral award last month despite the arbitrators’ failure to make certain disclosures regarding potential sources of bias. The litigation involved a dispute between the Panama Canal Authority, the government agency responsible for the operation and management of the Panama Canal, and Grupo Unidos por el Canal, S.A., the contractor hired to construct the Panama Canal expansion. Complications with the project caused progress to be “severely delayed and disrupted,” resulting in liability disputes between the parties. 

The choice of arbitration institution can arise at any point in an investment cycle: from finalising initial agreements at fund or portfolio company level, or on an ad hoc basis when a dispute arises.

To help demystify some differences – this article sets out the key features of three commonly used international arbitration regimes that an asset manager should take into account when making such a choice.

The United States Supreme Court is finally set to resolve a Circuit split regarding whether district courts can order discovery for private commercial arbitrations abroad pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1782.  The Court granted certiorari in ZF Automotive US, Inc., v. Luxshare, Ltd., No. 21-2736, after another case raising the same question was abruptly abandoned in September 2021.  See Servotronics Inc. v. Rolls-Royce PLC, No. 20-794 (Sept. 8, 2021).  At the heart of the issue is whether Luxshare can use the U.S. court system to get document and deposition discovery from ZF Automotive US, Inc. in the service of a pending private commercial arbitration set in Germany.

2021 marked a new chapter for arbitration in Ecuador: after re-joining the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes Convention in June, Ecuadorian Executive Decree No. 165 in August introduced Regulations to add to and improve the existing legal framework for arbitration as it results from the Ecuadorian Arbitration and Mediation Law (“AML”).  The AML, which was enacted in 1997 and amended in 2015, had been criticised for its lack of clarity.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit recently held for the first time that parties opposing confirmation of nondomestic arbitral awards (i.e., awards issued in disputes involving property located or conduct occurring outside the U.S.) issued in the U.S. or under U.S. arbitration law are not limited to the grounds set forth in the Inter-American Convention on International Commercial Arbitration (the Panama Convention). Instead, the court ruled that defenses to confirmation under the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) apply.

On June 1, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court delivered a unanimous opinion regarding the relationship between domestic equitable estoppel and the enforcement of arbitration agreements. In GE Energy Power Conversion France SAS, Corp., Converteam SAS v. Outokumpufka Stainless USA, LLC, et al., (“GE Energy Power”), the Court addressed the question of whether the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards, June 10, 1958, 21 U. S. T. 2517, T. I. A. S. No. 6997 (the “New York Convention” or “Convention”) conflicts with domestic equitable estoppel doctrines that permit the enforcement of arbitration agreements by nonsignatories. Writing for the Court, Justice Clarence Thomas explained that it does not.

With an uptick in commercial wrangles expected as a result of measures taken to combat Covid-19, England is not alone in seeking to provide a welcoming jurisdiction to deal with such disputes.

In this two-part post, we pick out 6 key developments in arbitration case law in England over the last 6 months to reveal the takeaways for parties considering their dispute resolution options, whether at the contracting stage or with a potential claim in mind.