Arbitration Rules’ Binding Force and Challenge of Arbitrators, Some Useful Clarifications: Société Tecnimont Spa v. SA J.&P. Avax - European International Arbitration Review (EIAR) - Volume 5 - Issue 1
Over the past years, the Tecnimont case has turned into a real arbitration ‘saga’ in the sense that the French courts have issued no less than five decisions after the contentious partial award on liability was rendered. The case, as discussed before French courts, raises two main issues that have been at the heart of a fierce debate for years: the extent of the arbitrators’ duty to disclose facts that might affect their independence and impartiality, and the binding force of the rules chosen by the parties to govern the proceedings.
The latest chapter of the Tecnimont series is a decision rendered by the Paris Court of Appeal on 12 April 2016, which affirmed the binding force of the rules of procedure chosen by the parties. While the decision does not touch upon the question of the scope of the arbitrators’ duty of disclosure, an issue on which no absolute and clear standard appears to have emerged, it brings useful clarifications on the issue of challenges to arbitrators when the circumstances justifying the challenge are discovered progressively.
Following a summary of the factual background of the case, the present note will briefly touch upon the previous French court decisions on the case before discussing the latest decision of the Paris Court of Appeal.
II. Factual Background
In a nutshell, Tecnimont SPA (‘Tecnimont’), an Italian company, and SA J.&P. Avax (‘Avax’), a Greek company, entered into a contract for the construction of a propylene plant in Thessaloniki, Greece. Pursuant to an arbitration clause contained in the subcontract, all disputes arising from the agreement were to be resolved through arbitration under the aegis of the International Chamber of Commerce (‘ICC’).