Justia International Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Arbitration & Mediation
by
The case revolves around a dispute between the Estate of Ke Zhengguang and Stephany Yu, concerning the enforcement of an arbitral award issued in Hong Kong. The award was the result of a business dispute involving real estate in China. The arbitration panel ordered Yu and her two sisters to pay the Estate and Xu Hongbiao a sum of money for the losses they sustained. After Yu paid Xu his share, the Estate sought to collect the remaining half from Yu, a U.S. citizen residing in Maryland.Yu challenged the enforcement of the award in the District Court of Maryland, arguing that the court was an inconvenient forum, that necessary parties were not included in the proceedings, and that enforcing the award would violate Chinese currency control laws, thereby violating U.S. policy favoring international comity. She also argued that the judgment should be in Renminbi (RMB), as provided in the arbitral award, not in U.S. dollars. The district court rejected all of Yu's arguments and confirmed the award under the New York Convention, entering judgment in favor of the Estate against Yu in a total amount of $3.6 million.On appeal, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court's decision. The court found none of Yu's arguments persuasive and held that the district court was correct in confirming and enforcing the arbitral award. The court also held that the district court did not err in entering the judgment in U.S. dollars, as it was within its discretion to do so. View "In re Estate of Ke Zhengguang v. Yu" on Justia Law

by
The case involves the Government of Romania's appeal against three judgments that confirmed an international arbitral award. The dispute originated from Romania's adoption of tax incentives to encourage investment in certain economically "disfavored" regions of the country. The Micula brothers and associated entities built food production facilities in Romania relying on these incentives. However, Romania repealed most of the tax incentives in 2005 in preparation to join the EU, leading the Miculas to file for arbitration in 2005.The district court confirmed the award in 2019 and entered judgment for $356,439,727, net of payments made and with interest. Romania challenged the subject matter jurisdiction, arguing that the arbitration clause in the Sweden-Romania BIT was void as of Romania’s 2007 accession because EU law prohibits intra-EU agreements to arbitrate EU law disputes between a member state and the citizens of another member state. The district court ruled EU law was inapplicable because the parties’ dispute predated Romania’s EU membership and the award did not “relate to the interpretation or application of EU law.”In 2022, Romania sought relief from the 2019 Confirmation, and ensuing sanctions, arguing that two decisions of the EU’s highest court in 2022 held that “the agreement to arbitrate in the [Sweden-Romania] BIT was void the moment that Romania entered the EU.” The district court denied the motion, concluding that the CJEU Decisions did not hold Romania’s accession retroactively voided its pre-EU consent to arbitrate.The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of Romania's Rule 60(b) motion for relief from judgment. The court held that the district court's jurisdictional analysis was not premised on the "interpretation and application of EU law." Rather, the district court independently found the requisite "jurisdictional fact" under the arbitration exception of an agreement to arbitrate with the Miculas. The court also found that the 2022 CJEU decisions did not support the interpretation that Romania’s 2007 accession to the EU retroactively rendered the preexisting agreement to arbitrate with Swedish investors “void ab initio.” View "Micula v. Government of Romania" on Justia Law

by
Following the disclosures of the new information, Grupo Unidos challenged the impartiality of the arbitrators before the International Court of Arbitration (“ICA”) of the International Chamber of Commerce. The ICA agreed that some arbitrators failed to make a few disclosures but, notably, did not find any basis for removal and rejected Grupo Unidos’s challenges on the merits. Thereafter, Grupo Unidos moved -- unsuccessfully -- for the vacatur of the awards in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida. Autoridad del Canal de Panama, in turn, cross-moved for confirmation of the awards, which the district court granted. Grupo Unidos appealed.   The Eleventh Circuit affirmed. The court agreed with the International Court of Arbitration and the district court that Grupo Unidos has presented nothing that comes near the high threshold required for vacatur. Accordingly, the court affirmed the denial of vacatur and the confirmation of the awards. The court wrote that there is no indication in this record that Grupo Unidos did not have a robust opportunity to present evidence and confront the other side’s evidence. View "Grupo Unidos por el Canal, S.A., et al. v. Autoridad del Canal de Panama" on Justia Law

by
Plaintiff-appellee Baker Hughes Services International, LLC, after winning an Ecuadorian arbitration against the Ecuador-based Pesago Consortium, secured an arbitral award enforceable jointly and severally against the Consortium’s two members: Defendant and third-party Campo Puma Oriente S.A. Plaintiff then brought its award to Oklahoma and sued Defendant to confirm the award in the United States. Plaintiff again prevailed, and the district court entered judgment against Defendant for the award’s amount, prejudgment interest, and attorney’s fees. Defendant challenged the enforcement of the arbitration award, arguing: (1) the U.S. district court lacked subject matter jurisdiction to confirm the award; (2) the district court should not have confirmed the award because the parties never agreed to arbitrate their dispute; and (3) the district court improperly awarded attorney’s fees and incorrectly calculated prejudgment interest. After its review, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed affirm everything except the district court’s award of prejudgment interest, which was vacated and remanded for the district court to reconsider. View "Baker Hughes Services International v. Joshi Technologies International" on Justia Law

by
Respondent the State of Libya (“Libya”) appealed from a district court judgment granting Petitioner Olin Holdings Limited’s (“Olin”) petition to confirm an arbitration award issued under a bilateral investment treaty between Libya and the Republic of Cyprus and denying Libya’s cross-motion to dismiss the petition on forum non-conveniens grounds. On appeal, Libya’s primary argument is that the district court erred by declining to independently review the arbitrability of Olin’s claims before confirming the final award.   The Second Circuit affirmed. The court held that Libya was not entitled to de novo review of the arbitral tribunal’s decisions because it “clearly and unmistakably” agreed to submit questions of arbitrability to the arbitrators in the first instance. The court further concluded that the district court properly confirmed the final award and rejected Libya’s cross-motion to dismiss the petition. The court explained that regarding the public and private interest factors, the district court held that Libya fell well short of satisfying its heavy burden because it “failed to identify even one” factor that weighed in favor of dismissal. On appeal, Libya makes “no persuasive argument identifying an error in the factual or legal components of the district court’s discretionary decision.” View "Olin Holdings Ltd. v. State of Libya" on Justia Law

by
Respondent is a former employee who won a judgment in Argentina's National Court of Labor Appeals against Citibank, N.A. Petitioner, the Argentinian branch of Citibank, N.A., filed a demand for arbitration with the American Arbitration Association and brought the proceedings below. The district court compelled arbitration, preliminarily enjoined the employee from enforcing the Argentinian judgment against Petitioner, and held Respondent in contempt of court. It also denied his motion to dismiss.   The Second Circuit reversed and remanded. The court held that the district court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over the Petition. Therefore, the district court was without authority to issue its orders in this case. The court reversed the district court's orders -- including its order to compel arbitration, the preliminary injunction it entered against Respondent, its order finding Respondent in contempt, and its order requiring Respondent to pay the Branch's attorneys' fees and costs. The court concluded that because the Branch has not shown it enjoys independent legal existence and Citibank has not sought to substitute itself or join this action as the real party in interest, there has been no party adverse to Respondent. Without adverse parties, there can be no subject matter jurisdiction under Article III. View "The branch of Citibank, N.A., established in the Republic of Argentina v." on Justia Law

by
The United States (“the Government”) initiated a civil forfeiture suit in federal district court against a $380 million arbitration award fund, the majority of which is held in the United Kingdom. The fund belongs to PetroSaudi Oil Services (Venezuela) Ltd. (“PetroSaudi”), a private oil company incorporated in Barbados. PetroSaudi won the award in an arbitration proceeding against Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. (“PDVSA”), a Venezuelan state energy company. The portion of the fund held in the United Kingdom (“the fund”) is held in an account controlled by the High Court of England and Wales (“the High Court”). The Government seeks forfeiture of the fund on the ground that it derives from proceeds of an illegal scheme to steal one billion dollars from the Malaysian sovereign wealth fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (“1MDB”). PetroSaudi challenged two orders entered by the district court.   The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s interlocutory orders. The panel held that PetroSaudi’s appeal from the district court’s protective order under 18 U.S.C. Section 983 fell within this exception. Accordingly, the court had jurisdiction to consider the appeals of the two orders. The panel concluded that the sovereign immunity of the United Kingdom, as codified in the FSIA, did not protect the arbitration award fund from the two orders issued by the district court. The panel held that because the district court had in rem jurisdiction over the fund, it did not need in personam jurisdiction over PetroSaudi to issue an order preserving the fund. View "USA V. PETROSAUDI OIL SERV. (VENEZUELA) LTD., ET AL" on Justia Law

by
This case arose from a dispute between two Guatemalan companies, Corporación AIC, S.A., and Hidroeléctrica Santa Rita, S.A. Pursuant to a contract signed in March of 2012, Corporación AIC agreed to build a new hydroelectric power plant for Hidroeléctrica in Guatemala. Hidroeléctrica issued a force majeure notice that forced Corporación AIC to stop work on the project. Hidroeléctrica filed an arbitration proceeding in the International Court of Arbitration to recover advance payments it had made to Corporación AIC, and the latter counterclaimed for damages, costs, and other expenses. An arbitral panel ordered Corporación AIC to return some portion in advance payments but allowed it to keep what it had earned on the contract. Corporación AIC filed suit in federal court seeking to vacate the award.The Eleventh Circuit vacated the judgment in favor of Hidroeléctrica and remanded for the district court to consider Corporación AIC’s Section 10(a)(4) contention. The court held that the district court correctly followed Industrial Risk and Inversiones, which constituted binding precedent at the time and declined to address Corporación AIC’s argument that the arbitral award should be vacated because the panel exceeded its powers under 9 U.S.C. Section 10(a)(4). View "Corporacion AIC, SA v. Hidroelectrica Santa Rita S.A." on Justia Law

by
A Bolivian arbitration tribunal awarded $36 million in damages to Compania de Inversiones Mercantiles S.A. (“CIMSA”) against Grupo Cementos de Chihuahua S.A.B. de C.V. (“GCC”). GCC fought the award in the Bolivian courts, losing before a chamber of Bolivia’s highest constitutional court in 2016. In 2019, CIMSA obtained an order from the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado confirming the award. In 2020, GCC convinced a different chamber of Bolivia’s highest constitutional court to invalidate its prior decision, and a Bolivian trial judge subsequently annulled the award. GCC then moved the U.S. district court to vacate the confirmation order. The district court: (1) denied GCC’s motion; and (2) ordered GCC to turn over assets located in Mexico to satisfy the award. GCC brought separate appeals from these two rulings. GCC argued that the district court erred by refusing to vacate the Confirmation Judgment, contending the 2020 Bolivian court orders annulling the Damages Award required vacatur. The Tenth Circuit found when a court has been asked to vacate an order confirming an arbitral award that has later been annulled, it may balance against comity considerations (1) whether the annulment is repugnant to U.S. public policy or (2) whether giving effect to the annulment would undermine U.S. public policy. "Although the district court here may have found the 2020 Bolivian orders were not repugnant, it did not legally err by considering whether giving effect to those orders through vacatur of its Confirmation Judgment would offend U.S. public policy." Because the district court did not abuse its discretion by refusing to vacate its Confirmation Judgment, the Tenth Circuit affirmed. View "Compania De Inversiones v. Grupo Cementos de Chihuahua, et al." on Justia Law

by
Angle served as the exclusive U.S. distribution agent for Jiangsu, a Chinese manufacturer..Jiangsu claims that, as of June 2018, Angle owed it $1.3 million. Under a June 2018 memorandum of understanding, Angle agreed to pay Jiangsu $528,227.59 within six months. The MOU did not contain an arbitration clause. In July, Jiangsu sent Angle a revised agreement, under which the parties agreed to submit any dispute to the China International Economic and Trade Arbitration Commission (CIETAC) with a revised payment schedule. Angle never signed the July MOU. The parties agreed to a payment schedule, without reference to either MOU. Jiangsu repeatedly asked Angle to forward the “signed agreement.” Angle did not make all of the agreed payments. Jiangsu initiated arbitration. Angle objected to CIETAC’s jurisdiction. The Chinese Court found that the July MOU and its arbitration clause were enforceable. The CIETAC arbitration panel independently determined that the July MOU was enforceable under the U.N. Convention on the International Sale of Goods and Chinese law and ordered Angle to pay $624,227.59.Jiangsu sought to enforce its award in the United States under the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards. The Third Circuit vacated the dismissal of Jiangsu’s confirmation petition. While the district court was not bound by the decisions of Chinese tribunals and Angle did not waive its right to contest enforcement, the district court should make an independent determination as to arbitrability. View "Jiangsu Beier Decoration Materials Co., Ltd. v. Angle World LLC" on Justia Law