AHS Niger and Menzies Middle East and Africa S.A. v. Republic of Niger, ICSID Case No. ARB/11/11, Award (July 15, 2013) (French)
In December 2003, Niger launched an international tender for ground handling operations at its airports, including Niamey airport. The Menzies Aviation Group (“MAG”) submitted a bid in conjunction with Aviation Handling Services (“AHS”), its partner in Africa. In February 2004, after the Ministry of Transportation of Niger declared their bid successful and in fulfillment of the requirements of tender, AHS and MAG incorporated AHS Niger in Niger. MMEA, a company incorporated in Luxembourg, held the majority (75%) of the shares in AHS Niger.
In December 2004, AHS Niger and Niger entered into an Investment Agreement giving AHS Niger a ten-year license for ground handling operations at the Niamey airport, including the handling of passengers, baggage, freight and mail, track and flight operations, cleaning and servicing of aircraft, line maintenance and other services.
In January 2010, the Investment Agreement was amended by two government Orders (“arrêtés”), which reduced its duration from ten to five years, repealed earlier provisions, and modified the structure of the ground handling operations. The Ministry of Transportation informed AHS Niger of these changes and called on it to take the necessary measures to renew its license, which the Ministry claimed had expired in February 2009. In March 2010, AHS Niger obtained renewal of the license for one year. In December 2010, further Orders (“arrêtés”) were issued purporting to terminate the Investment Agreement, invalidating the license and creating a new Ground Handling Unit at the Niamey airport. Claimants stated that AHS Niger’s bank accounts, material and equipment were illegally seized by the new Ground Handling Unit and were being used in violation of Claimants’ ownership rights.
Claimants brought administrative appeals against the Orders. The Orders were annulled by the Administrative Division of the Supreme Court of Niger (“the Court”) in October 2012, while the ICSID proceeding was pending. The effects of the Court’s judgment, including whether the execution had restored the Investment Agreement or partially returned Claimants’ allegedly expropriated assets, were still unknown at the time the Tribunal rendered the Award.
Claimants argued that Niger’s termination of the Investment Agreement and withdrawal of the license approval constituted a violation of the Investment Agreement, the Investment Code and international law.
Respondent objected preliminarily to the Tribunal’s jurisdiction under the ICSID Convention because (i) Niger had not consented in writing to an ICSID arbitration proceeding; (ii) AHS Niger was a Nigerien company and therefore not an “investor of another Contracting State” under Article 25 of the ICSID Convention; and (iii) MMEA was not a party to the Investment Agreement.
Respondent subsequently ceased participating in the proceeding and was deemed to be in default under ICSID Arbitration Rule 42 as of March 2012. It did not present its case fully on jurisdiction or the merits.
The Tribunal issued a Decision on Jurisdiction on March 13, 2013, upholding jurisdiction over Claimants’ claims under the Investment Agreement and the Investment Code.
Subsequently, the Tribunal rendered an Award on the merits finding Respondent in violation of the Investment Agreement and Investment Code and ordering Respondent to compensate Claimants for their loss of profit and loss of seized property.