Sunday, May 9, 2010

Landmark French decisions on anti arbitration injunctions

Kluwer Arbitration Blog reports here that in the recent months the Paris Tribunal de Grande Instance (Court of First Instance) has taken the view that anti arbitration injunctions could not be granted even in cases where manifest lack of jurisdiction of the arbitral tribunal and irreparable injury were pleaded. In S.A. Elf Aquitaine and Total v. Mattei, Lai. Kamara and Reiner, an anti arbitration injunction was prayed for on the ground that appointment of arbitrator on behalf of Elf was done by an administrator whose appointment had been annulled by the appointing court and that the continuation of arbitration would cause irreparable injury. In Republic of Equatorial Guinea v Fitzpatrick Equatorial Guinea, de Ly, Owen and Leboulanger the grounds for seeking anti arbitration injunction were that local judicial remedies had not been exhausted as required by the relevant laws and the contract between the parties and that one of the parties was insolvent and hence could not be represented by persons other than the insolvency representative.

In both the cases it was held that the arbitral tribunal enjoyed absolute priority in determining its own jurisdiction. More importantly, a blanket rule appears to have been laid down that French courts were devoid of any jurisdiction to interfere with the arbitral proceedings or to give injunctions to an arbitral tribunal, even when the Tribunal is seated in France.

For a background on judicial interference in arbitration and a summary on the position on intervention in India, U.K., Singapore, Switzerland, France, Sweden, Germany, Netherlands and Austria, readers may find it beneficial to refer to an article titled Judicial Intervention In International Arbitration In India co-authored by Rukmini Das and Anisha Keyal and published in the most recent issue of NUJS Law Review (Volume 2, Issue 4). The full text of the paper is expected to be uploaded here shortly.

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