Legal Authorities - Miscellaneous October 2019

The European Arbitration Review 2020

France has long enjoyed a reputation as a leading light of modern international arbitration.

First, France was an early adopter of a modern arbitration law, enacting decrees in 1980–1981 providing for a liberal arbitration regime (well before the Netherlands, Switzerland and England followed suit in 1986, 1987 and 1996 respectively). Second, French courts and French scholars have long been noted for their contributions to the field (when it comes, for instance, to the severability of the arbitration agreement, the arbitral tribunal’s competence to rule on its own jurisdiction or the recognition and enforcement of arbitral awards annulled at the seat). Third, Paris is the home of one the leading commercial arbitration institutions, the International Court of Arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and hosts hearing facilities of the most frequently used investment arbitration institution, the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID). Fourth, according to a survey of users in the field, Paris is the second most preferred arbitral seat in the world and France has been the most popular country of seat for ICC arbitrations in the past five years. Finally, France is also well represented among parties and arbitrators: for ICC arbitrations in 2018, for example, France was the second-most represented nationality among parties and the fourth-most represented nationality among arbitrators.

Thus, Paris has a serious claim to being the historical centre and home of international arbitration. When it comes to international arbitration, to quote Rick Blaine of Casablanca fame, ‘[w]e’ll always have Paris’.

Much of this enduring success has to do with French arbitration law and the approach of French courts, which are rightly perceived as supportive of international arbitration. In this article, following a brief overview of the French law on arbitration, we highlight three of French arbitration law’s most salient features: the enforcement of arbitration agreements and recognition of the negative effect of competence-competence; the recognition and enforcement of awards annulled at the seat; and the scope of French courts’ power to review awards, including recent developments regarding investor-state arbitration and the treatment of allegations of serious illegality.

Read the full article in pdf below.
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