The Russian energy giant Gazprom supplies gas to much of central and eastern Europe. Disputes, often involving pricing, have been providing plenty of work for lawyers. One such dispute, involving the supply of gas to Lithuania, reached the Court of Justice of the European Union in 2015 and provides the latest instalment in the long-running struggle between the exercise of adjudicatory jurisdiction under EU law and in arbitration. That struggle has mainly focused on the proper scope of the respective spheres occupied by arbitration and court-based dispute resolution. The Gazprom decision presents an opportunity to take stock of the present state of the law in this area.
This short paper will start with an account of the background, pulling together various legal strands. It will then examine the jurisdictional relationship under EU law between arbitration and court-based proceedings, before mentioning in outline two related topics affected by European law.
As in life, so in the law, an understanding of the present is assisted by some knowledge of history. Three strands of the legal developments which have led us to where we are now should be considered: first, the European regime governing jurisdiction of the courts in civil and commercial matters, starting with the Brussels Convention of 1968 and currently represented by the so-called “Brussels I Recast” Regulation; second, the New York Convention; and third, the English law of anti-suit injunctions.