Annulment and Enforcement of International Arbitral Awards: A Practical Perspective - Chapter 26
Hans Smit is the Stanley H. Fuld Professor of Law and Director of the Center for International Arbitration and Litigation Law at Columbia University, where he has been a member of the faculty since 1960. He was Director of Projects on International Procedure and European Legal Institutions before becoming Director of the Parker School of Foreign and Comparative Law. Professor Smit has extensive experience as an expert and arbitrator in international litigation and arbitration and is the author of numerous publications on international commercial arbitration and is Editor-in-Chief of the American Review of International Arbitration.
International arbitration is traditionally hailed as affording the most substantial benefit of producing an award that, in the overwhelming majority of cases, is entitled to recognition and enforcement in the more than 120 countries that have ratified the New York Convention of 1958. This regime of almost universal recognition and enforcement compares most favorably with that regulating the recognition and enforcement of judgments rendered by foreign courts. Those judgments are recognized and enforced only when domestic law or a relevant treaty so provides.
The rule generally prevailing in civil law systems is that foreign judgments are not recognized or enforced at all or only on a basis of reciprocity, with frequent uncertainty as to what form of reciprocity is required. In common law countries, foreign judgments are generally recognized and enforced, but courts retain a significant measure of leeway. European countries have adopted a regional recognition and enforcement scheme laid down in the Brussels Convention, as amended by the Lugano Convention. Generally, however, the liberality in the recognition and enforcement of international arbitral award prescribed by the New York Convention stands in marked contrast to the uncertain fate that awaits foreign judgments in domestic courts.
Nevertheless, obtaining recognition and enforcement of international arbitral awards is not without obstacles and even pitfalls. This Article attempts to show that most of them can be traced to deficiencies in the regime provided by the New York Convention and, in important measure, to defectively drafted arbitration agreements.