Posts

Brentwood Industries v. Guangdong Fa Anlong Machinery Equipment Co., Ltd. –A third way to enforce China-seated arbitral awards made by foreign arbitration institution

Brentwood Industries v. Guangdong Fa Anlong Machinery Equipment Co., Ltd.–A third way to enforce China-seated arbitral awards made by foreign arbitration institution

by Jingru Wang

Wuhan University Institute of International Law

Background

Nationality of an arbitral award marks the source of the legal validity of the award. Most countries generally divide the awards into domestic awards and foreign awards, and provide different requirements for their recognition and enforcement. It is a common practice to determine the nationality of the arbitral award by the seat of arbitration, which is the so-called “territorial theory”. However, Chinese law adopts the “institutional theory”, which raises controversy concerning the nationality of the arbitral award made by foreign arbitration institutions located in mainland. After long-term debate in practice, the Brentwood Case[1] finally confirmed that China-seated arbitral awards made by a foreign arbitration institution shall be regarded as Chinese foreign-related awards.

Uber Arbitration Clause Unconscionable

In 2017 drivers working under contract for Uber in Ontario launched a class action.  They alleged that under Ontario law they were employees entitled to various benefits Uber was not providing.  In response, Uber sought to stay the proceedings on the basis of an arbitration clause in the standard-form contract with each driver.  Under its terms a driver is required to resolve any dispute with Uber through mediation and arbitration in the Netherlands.  The mediation and arbitration process requires up-front administrative and filing fees of US$14,500.  In response, the drivers argued that the arbitration clause was unenforceable.

The Supreme Court of Canada has held in Uber Technologies Inc. v. Heller, 2020 SCC 16 that the arbitration clause is unenforceable, paving the way for the class action to proceed in Ontario.  A majority of seven judges held the clause was unconscionable.  One judge held that unconscionability was not the proper framework for analysis but that the clause was contrary to public policy.  One judge, in dissent, upheld the clause.

Australia’s first contested ICSID enforcement

In February, the Federal Court of Australia delivered its judgment on the first contested enforcement of International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) awards in Australia. In Eiser Infrastructure Ltd v Kingdom of Spain [2020] FCA 157, the Court enforced two ICSID awards—award of 4 May 2017 in Case No. ARB/13/36, and award of 15 June 2018 as rectified by the award dated 29 January 2019 in Case No. ARB/13/31—against the Kingdom of Spain. The two cases were brought by different applicants but were heard and decided together.

The judgment concerns the interaction of two instruments at the intersection of public and private international law. Firstly, it concerns the Foreign States Immunities Act 1985 (Cth), which gives effect to a restrictive theory of state immunity. Secondly, the judgment concerns the Convention on the Settlement of Investment Disputes between States and Nationals of Other States, opened for signature 18 March 1965, 575 UNTS 159 (entered into force 14 October 1966) (Investment Convention), which is given the force of law in Australia by s 32 of the International Arbitration Act 1974 (Cth).

Book: Pocar – Viarengo – Villata (Eds.), Recasting Brussels I

The Italian publishing house CEDAM has published a new volume on the review of the Brussels I regulation: “Recasting Brussels I“. The book, edited by Fausto Pocar, Ilaria Viarengo and Francesca Clara Villata (all from the Univ. of Milan) includes twenty-five papers divided into five parts, devoted to the scope of application (I), rules on jurisdiction (II), choice-of-court agreements (III), coordination of proceedings (IV) and recognition and enforcement of judgments (V).

Here’s the table of contents (.pdf file):

PART I – SCOPE OF APPLICATION

  • Rainer Hausmann, The Scope of Application of the Brussels I Regulation;
  • Ilaria Viarengo, The Removal of Maintenance Obligations from the Scope of Brussels I;
  • Claudio Consolo – Marcello Stella, Brussels I Regulation Amendment Proposals and Arbitration;
  • Peter Kindler, Torpedo Actions and the Interface between Brussels I and International Commercial Arbitration;
  • Stefano Azzali – Michela De Santis, Impact of the Commission’s Proposal to Revise Brussels I Regulation on Arbitration Proceedings Administered by the Chamber of Arbitration of Milan.

PART II – RULES ON JURISDICTION