ICSID Tribunal declines jurisdiction due to claimants’ failure to obtain environmental impact assessment in breach of local law

In a recent investment arbitration Award, in Cortec Mining v Kenya, an ICSID tribunal has declined jurisdiction over a claim brought by a trio of mining companies on the basis that the mining licences at issue had not been obtained lawfully due to the Claimants’ failure to obtain the required environmental impact assessments.

In its award of 22 October 2018, the tribunal held that the withdrawal of the Claimants’ mining licence by the Kenyan Government could not be challenged under the 1999 UK-Kenya bilateral investment treaty (“BIT“), as the relevant mining licence had not been obtained lawfully. Despite the fact that the BIT contained no express requirement of compliance with local law, the tribunal nevertheless held that the BIT and the Convention on the Settlement of Investment Disputes between States and Nationals of Other States 1966 (the “ICSID Convention“) protect only lawful investments. The tribunal affirmed that a principle of proportionality should apply when assessing the impact of unlawful conduct on the right to bring a BIT claim, with minor omissions or inadvertent misstatements not precluding the BIT from applying. However, in this case, environmental considerations were of fundamental importance and non-compliance with the protective regulatory framework was a “serious matter” justifying the tribunal in declining jurisdiction.

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Filed under Africa, Environment, Investment Arbitration, Jurisdiction, Mining

Second Wave of United States Sanctions Against Iran Re-Imposed

Following President Trump’s decision on 8 May, 2018 to withdraw the United States from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (“JCPOA”), the US government announced that it would re-impose pre-JCPOA nuclear-related Iran sanctions (both primary and secondary) that were lifted under the JCPOA. As we reported previously, two “wind-down” periods—of 90 and 180 days respectively—commenced from the day of the announcement, during which non-US, non-Iranian companies were encouraged by the US government to withdraw from operations in Iran that would be affected by re-imposed sanctions. OFAC’s guidance discouraged non-US persons from engaging in new activity during the wind down periods, and stated that any such new activity may be a factor in connection with future enforcement action for actions taken after the wind-down period.

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Filed under Europe, Iran, Middle East, News, Sanctions, US

English Court of Appeal finds good arguable case that public policy exception applies to the foreign Act of State Doctrine allowing Ukraine to argue duress in claim under Eurobonds

In Ukraine v The Law Debenture Trust Corporation plc [2018] EWCA Civ 2026 the English Court of Appeal (the Court) partially upheld an appeal in favour of the state of Ukraine (Ukraine), reversing in part the summary judgment granted to The Law Debenture Trust Corporation plc (the Claimant) by the Commercial Court.

The Claimant brought the claim as the trustee of notes with a nominal value of US$3 billion (the Notes) after Ukraine defaulted on the payment of principal and the final instalment of interest. The sole subscriber of the Notes was the Russian Federation (Russia).

In allowing the appeal in part, the Court found that there was a good arguable case that the public policy exception applied to the foreign act of state doctrine and that Ukraine’s defence of duress – based on allegations of breaches of ius cogens norms of international law and treaty provisions by Russia – was therefore justiciable.

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Filed under Act of State Doctrine, non-justiciability, Public International Law, Russia, State Immunity, UK, Ukraine

The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) to come into force on 30th December

Australia has become the 6th country to ratify the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), a trade deal between 11 Pacific nations. Australia’s ratification followed swiftly after Canada deposited its official notice of ratification on 24th October, joining Japan, Mexico, New Zealand and Singapore. The agreement will now come into force on 30th December, 60 days after Australia’s ratification. Continue reading

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Filed under Economic partnership agreement, ISDS Reform, Treaty negotiation, interpretation and impact

Upcoming Fossil Fuels Trial: Juliana v. United States

In August 2015, the United States, then president Barack Obama, and the heads of numerous federal executive agencies were sued in a civil rights action by a group of 21 young people, non-profit organization Earth Guardians, and Dr. James Hansen as guardian for future generations. The action was filed in federal district court in Oregon, where a trial is currently scheduled to begin on October 29.

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Filed under Americas, Environment, News, US

Climate Change: Dutch Court of Appeal upholds the decision of the Hague District Court in Urgenda Foundation v Kingdom of the Netherlands

The Dutch Court of Appeal (the “Court”) has upheld the 2015 decision of the Hague District Court in the case of Urgenda Foundation v Kingdom of the Netherlands, and ruled that the State (ie the Kingdom of the Netherlands) has a duty of care under Articles 2 and 8 ECHR to its citizens to reduce greenhouse gases by at least 25%, relative to the 1990 emission level. All of the defences raised by the State were dismissed.

In its decision the Court stressed that immediate action is required, noting that the later actions are taken to reduce emissions, the more ambitious measures will need to be in the future. In addition, the court held that the State cannot hide behind the EU level reduction target of 20% by 2020, especially as the EU as a whole is expected to achieve a reduction of 26-27% in 2020.

The Court held that by not taking action to reduce emissions by at least 25% by end-2020 the State fails to fulfil its duty of care to its citizens pursuant to Articles 2 and 8 ECHR. A reduction of 25% should be considered a minimum as recent insights about an even more ambitious reduction in connection with the 1.5°C target have not even been taken into consideration.

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Filed under ECHR, Environment, Europe, News

Brexit: dispute resolution between the EU and the UK, under the withdrawal agreement and in the event that there is “no deal”

At a critical time in the Brexit negotiations, in the latest podcast on the Herbert Smith Freehills Podcast channel, Andrew Cannon and Hannah Ambrose discuss dispute resolution between the UK and the EU. They look at the way in which the withdrawal agreement may be enforced, including the possible role of the CJEU, as well as considering how disputes may be resolved in the event of “no deal”.

Andrew and Hannah consider both the common ground and the important gaps between the EU’s and the UK’s proposals for dispute resolution. In particular, they consider the possibility of seeking political resolution before a joint committee, and discuss the limited but apparently agreed role of the CJEU in enforcing the financial settlement. They also address the proposals for mitigation of harm in the event that one side breaches the withdrawal agreement, including financial penalties and suspension of treaty rights and obligations.

Andrew and Hannah also reflect on other state to state dispute resolution procedures which may be palatable to both sides, including the use of arbitration and EFTA docking, as well as explaining why the International Court of Justice is not the right body to enforce the withdrawal agreement.

Moving on to a possible no-deal scenario, Andrew and Hannah contemplate the possibility of disputes about how much the UK is obliged to pay and when. They look at the role of the WTO dispute resolution framework in determining trade disputes, pointing out its restricted remit in the broader context of EU/UK relations, and consider whether individual Member States may have a role in seeking to enforce the UK’s international law obligations.

The podcast can be accessed here: https://soundcloud.com/herbert-smith-freehills/brexit-ep5

Our podcasts are available on iTunesSpotify and SoundCloud and can be accessed on all devices. You can subscribe and be notified of all future episodes.

For further information, please contact Andrew Cannon, Partner, Hannah Ambrose, Senior Associate, or your usual Herbert Smith Freehills contact.

Andrew Cannon
Andrew Cannon
Partner
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+44 20 7466 2784
Hannah Ambrose
Hannah Ambrose
Senior Associate
Email | Profile
+44 20 7466 7585

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Filed under Brexit, EU, EU Law, Europe, State to state claims, Treaty negotiation, interpretation and impact, UK

English Court rejects Ukraine’s attempt to set aside enforcement order on grounds of state immunity

The English Court (the “Court“) has dismissed an application by Ukraine to set aside a court order permitting Russian investor, PAO Tatneft, to enforce an arbitral award against Ukraine.  Ukraine argued that it was immune from the Court’s jurisdiction by virtue of the State Immunity Act 1978. The Court found that Ukraine had not waived its right to rely on state immunity arguments, despite not having raising them in the arbitration. However, it found that Ukraine had agreed to submit the disputes in question to arbitration under the Russia-Ukraine Bilateral Investment Treaty (the “BIT“) and was therefore not immune from proceedings in connection with the arbitration by virtue of s9(1) of the State Immunity Act 1978 (“SIA“).

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Filed under Abuse of process, Arbitration Proceedings, Award, Enforcement, Europe, Immunity, Investment Arbitration, ISDS, MFN, Oil & Gas, Privileges and immunities, Sovereign Immunity/State Immunity, Ukraine

English Court finds that the foreign act of state doctrine may apply to arbitration proceedings

In the decision of Reliance Industries Limited & Ors v The Union of India [2018] EWHC 822 (Comm) the English Commercial Court (the Court) considered a number of challenges to an arbitration award brought under sections 67, 68 and 69 of the Arbitration Act 1996 (the 1996 Act). In relation to certain of the challenges made under sections 67 and 68, the Court considered the doctrine of foreign act of state. The Court found that aspects of the doctrine are no less applicable to arbitration proceedings than litigation. It also held, obiter, that where parties including a foreign state ask a tribunal to determine the validity of that foreign state’s act, there can be no objection to the tribunal doing so. Also obiter, the Court considered that a failure to raise act of state in objection to the determination of an issue which has been put to the tribunal, could constitute a waiver of that right to object.

The judgment provides some helpful clarification on the applicability of the foreign act of state doctrine to arbitration and may be of considerable significance to parties which contract with sovereign counterparts.

The Court also considered challenges to the Award under the 1996 Act on various other bases and, in doing so, reiterated the English court’s reluctance to interfere with decisions of arbitral tribunals.  A separate blog post on these other aspects of the judgment can be found here.

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Filed under Act of State Doctrine, Arbitration Proceedings, Award, India, Jurisdiction, Oil & Gas, Public International Law, UK

Save the date – resource nationalism seminar – London, 13 September 2018

We are pleased to announce that we will be holding a seminar on resource nationalism on 13 September 2018. Continue reading

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