International Court of Justice allows Iran claim to proceed to the merits phase but upholds jurisdictional objection on sovereign immunity

On 13 February 2019, the International Court of Justice dismissed one of the United States’ jurisdictional objections to a claim by Iran, upheld another and deferred a final jurisdictional objection to the merits phase in the case concerning Certain Iranian Assets (Iran v United States). The substantive claim, brought by Iran against the United States, relates to legislative and executive acts by the latter permitting enforcement against Iranian assets.

Iran filed its application instituting proceedings on 14 June 2016 under the 1955 Treaty of Amity, Economic Relations, and Consular Rights between the United States of America and Iran (a “Party” or the “Parties“) (the “Treaty“), from which the United States has since indicated it will withdraw. This is one of two cases currently pending before the Court between Iran and the United States.

The Judgment on Preliminary Objections (the “Judgment“) is available on the Court’s website, and can be accessed here. Our previous post concerning Iran’s application instituting proceedings in the same case is available here.

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Iran files case against the USA before the ICJ

In a press release published on 15 June 2016 (available here), the International Court of Justice ("ICJ") announced that Iran has instituted proceedings against the USA, in respect of alleged violations under the 1955 US-Iran Treaty of Amity, Economic Relations and Consular Rights (the "Treaty").

Notably, Iran's application concerns allegations that the US, through measures taken under its national law, has subjected assets and interests of Iran and Iranian entities, including the Iranian Central Bank ("Bank Markazi"),  to enforcement in the US in violation of immunities and other principles of international law that are upheld under the Treaty.

This case is likely to put the spotlight on the legality of the wide-ranging unilateral sanctions measures that have been and continue to be imposed by the US against Iran, notwithstanding the recent relaxation in January 2016 (see our previous blog post here), as well as questions of extra-territoriality and immunity under international law more generally.

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Herbert Smith Freehills publishes second edition of Iran Investment Guide

Herbert Smith Freehills is pleased to announce the publication of an updated version of its Iran Investment Guide. The guide describes the key legal aspects that foreign investors should consider when investing in Iran. It has been updated to take into account the lifting of the EU's nuclear related sanctions and most of the US secondary sanctions following the occurrence of "Implementation Day" under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

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“Implementation Day” (16 January 2016) marks a significant relaxation of EU and US sanctions against Iran

On 16 January 2016, or "Implementation Day", legislation in the United States ("US") and European Union ("EU") came into effect, relaxing significantly the sanctions in place against Iran. This followed the issuing of a report by the International Atomic Energy Agency ("IAEA") to the UN Security Council, confirming that Iran had complied with its commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action ("JCPOA"). 

In this bulletin, we set out the key changes to the sanctions regimes and consider potential implications for business. For further information, please contact Joanna Addison, Partner, Andrew Cannon, Partner, Jonathan Cross, Of Counsel or any of the individuals listed in the bulletin.

 

 

Iran sanctions – UK updates guidance on doing business with Iran as implementation day approaches

Since the announcement of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action ("JCPOA") in July 2015, companies have been preparing for the relaxation of sanctions that will allow them to re-enter Iran.  As Implementation Day (the point at which some sanctions will be relaxed) approaches, the UK's Foreign & Commonwealth Office (the "FCO") has updated its guidance on doing business with Iran to assist British companies looking to take advantage of this new opportunity. The updated document includes guidance, among other things, on entry into MOUs or conditional contracts relating to currently prohibited activity prior to Implementation Day.

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ADOPTION DAY UNDER THE IRAN AGREEMENT – US AND EU PUBLISH DETAILS OF CHANGES TO THEIR SANCTIONS REGIMES

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action relating to Iran's nuclear programme (the "JCPOA") officially came into effect on 18 October ("Adoption Day"), requiring all JCPOA participants to make the necessary arrangements and preparations for implementation of their respective JCPOA commitments.  In this briefing, we summarise the most recent steps taken by the US and EU under the JCPOA.

In the case of both the EU and US, there have been no immediate changes to the legislative position and all sanctions continue to apply.

For further background on the JCPOA, please see our previous briefing.

Our full e-bulletin is available here.

For more information, please contact Susannah Cogman, Partner, Daniel Hudson, Partner, Jonathan Cross, Of Counsel, Elizabeth Head, Senior Associate, Justin Schenck, Associate or your usual Herbert Smith Freehills contact.

Susannah Cogman
Susannah Cogman
Partner
+44 20 7466 2580
Daniel Hudson
Daniel Hudson
Partner
+44 20 7466 2470
Jonathan Cross
Jonathan Cross
Of Counsel
+1 917 542 7824
Elizabeth Head
Elizabeth Head
Senior Associate
+1 917 542 7828
Justin Schenck
Justin Schenck
Associate
+1 917 542 7825

Iran sanctions – parties reach agreement on Iran’s nuclear program and sanctions relief

In the early hours of July 14, 2015, it was announced that the P5+1/EU3+3 and Iran had reached agreement on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action regarding Iran’s nuclear program (the “JCPOA”). This builds on the framework announced in April 2015. One of the key elements of the JCPOA will be extensive relief from the current EU and US sanctions against Iran. However, sanctions relief will be effective only upon Iran meeting its obligations regarding its nuclear program and, as such, the existing UN, US and EU sanctions remain in force.

The text of the JCPOA itself has been released and runs to over 100 pages, including various Annexes. We have summarized below the milestones for the implementation of sanctions relief and the key sanctions-related elements of the JCPOA which provide relief from the UN, US and EU regimes. Continue reading

Iran Sanctions Update

Further to our previous briefing, it has been announced that negotiations between the P5+1 and Iran regarding Iran’s nuclear program have been further extended and will now continue until 10 July. As with previous announcements regarding the timeframe for negotiations, no steps have yet been taken by the UN, US or EU to introduce additional sanctions relief and so all previous sanctions against Iran remain in force.

From a US perspective, this new extension gives rise to the possibility that any agreement with Iran will be subject to a 60 day review by Congress under the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015, rather than the 30 day period which would apply if the agreement is transmitted to Congress for review by July 9. Commentators have expressed concern that there is an increased likelihood of any agreement being rejected, and ultimately collapsing, if it is not presented to Congress by July 9, providing critics of the deal with additional time to build opposition.

OFAC published a statement confirming the extension and has published revised guidance confirming that its previous sanctions relief will remain in force until 10 July.

The EU also made an announcement regarding the extension, confirming that the existing suspension of EU sanctions (agreed in November 2013) will remain in force until 10 July.

For further information, please contact Elizabeth Head, Senior Associate or your usual Herbert Smith Freehills contact.

Elizabeth Head
Elizabeth Head
Senior Associate
+44 20 7466 7555

Iran nuclear program negotiations and sanctions

In April 2015, the US and EU announced the agreed framework for a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (the “JCPOA”) regarding Iran’s nuclear program. At the time of that announcement, the parties said that they intended to draft the final terms of the JCPOA by June 30, 2015. The parties have now announced that negotiations will continue for a further seven days.

We set out further details below but it is important to note that no steps have yet been taken by the UN, US or EU to introduce sanctions relief and so all previous sanctions remain in force.

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Iran sanctions – US and EU announce framework agreement including proposals to suspend sanctions

On April 2, 2015 representatives from the US, EU and Iran announced that, following extensive negotiations, the “P5+1” (China, France, Germany, Russia, the UK and the US) and Iran had agreed parameters (the “Parameters”) for a joint comprehensive plan of action regarding Iran’s nuclear program (the “JCPOA”).  Whilst the final provisions of the JCPOA have yet to be agreed, the Parameters set out the framework around which the JCPOA will be drafted between now and June 30 and include the provision for significant relaxations of UN, US and EU sanctions currently in force against Iran. Continue reading