Justia Arbitration & Mediation Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in International Law
Grupo Unidos por el Canal, S.A., et al. v. Autoridad del Canal de Panama
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
Baker Hughes Services International v. Joshi Technologies International
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
Olin Holdings Ltd. v. State of Libya
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
The branch of Citibank, N.A., established in the Republic of Argentina v.
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
USA V. PETROSAUDI OIL SERV. (VENEZUELA) LTD., ET AL
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
Corporacion AIC, SA v. Hidroelectrica Santa Rita S.A.
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
Compania De Inversiones v. Grupo Cementos de Chihuahua, et al.
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
Jiangsu Beier Decoration Materials Co., Ltd. v. Angle World LLC
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
Commodities & Minerals Enterprise Ltd. v. CVG Ferrominera Orinoco, C.A.
Appellant CVG Ferrominera Orinoco, C.A. (“Ferrominera”), appealed from the district court’s judgment confirming a foreign arbitral award and granting attorney’s fees and costs in favor of Petitioner Commodities & Minerals Enterprise Ltd. (“CME”). Ferrominera challenges the judgment on three grounds. First, it argues that the district court lacked personal jurisdiction because CME never served a summons on Ferrominera in connection with its motion to confirm the arbitral award. Second, Ferrominera contends that the district court erred in confirming the arbitral award based on purported lack of jurisdiction by the arbitral panel, issues with the scope of the award, and conflicts with United States public policy. Third, it argues that the district court abused its discretion in awarding attorney’s fees and costs in favor of CME. The Second Circuit held that a party is not required to serve a summons in order to confirm a foreign arbitral award under the New York Convention. The court concluded that the district court properly enforced the arbitral award, but that it erred in awarding attorney’s fees and costs. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part and vacated in part. The court wrote that CME complied with the service of notice requirements of the New York Convention and the FAA, and the district court properly exercised personal jurisdiction over Ferrominera. Further, the court explained that Ferrominera has not borne its burden to show that the arbitration agreement is invalid where, as here, it has put forth no arguments whatsoever under the applicable law. View "Commodities & Minerals Enterprise Ltd. v. CVG Ferrominera Orinoco, C.A." on Justia Law
Tecnicas Reunidas De Talara S.A.C. v. SSK Ingenieria Y Construccion S.A.C.
Técnicas Reunidas de Talara S.A.C., a Peruvian corporation, subcontracted with SSK Ingeniería y Construcción S.A.C., another Peruvian corporation, to provide electromechanical work on the refinery project. In response to a contract dispute, the arbitral panel issued a $40 million award to SSK. During the arbitration, two of Técnicas's attorneys withdrew and joined the opposing party’s law firm. More than a month later Técnicas objected in the International Court of Arbitration to alleged conflicts of interest held by the arbitrators, but its objection made no mention of the attorney side switching. The district court agreed with Técnicas that a public policy against attorney side-switching exists in the United States but concluded that the public policy was not contravened in this case because there was no actual prejudice and Técnicas waived its objection. At issue on appeal concerns whether a party to an international arbitration can obtain a vacatur of an adverse arbitral award because two of its attorneys withdrew and joined the opposing party’s law firm during the arbitral proceedings. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the judgment. The court explained that Técnicas waived its right to complain. The court explained thatTécnicas, the losing party in the arbitration, had knowledge of the attorney side-switching but did not object until Técnicas received an adverse award more than a year later, The court wrote that its conclusion is consistent with the well-settled principle “that a party may not sit idle through an arbitration procedure and then collaterally attack that procedure on grounds not raised . . . when the result turns out to be adverse.” View "Tecnicas Reunidas De Talara S.A.C. v. SSK Ingenieria Y Construccion S.A.C." on Justia Law