Enforcement in France - Chapter 14 - Enforcement of Arbitral Awards Against Sovereigns
Sarah Francois-Poncet, General Counsel, Chanel S.A.
Brenda D. Horrigan, Partner, Salans LLP
Lara Karam, Attorney, Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom LLP
Originally from Enforcement of Arbitral Awards Against Sovereigns
It is well known that France is an “arbitration-friendly” forum, with the result that French law favors the enforcement of arbitral awards and the French courts generally endeavor to uphold such awards. Thus, there are few administrative hurdles to obtaining recognition and enforcement in France, and the substantive grounds for resisting enforcement of awards are restricted.
In principle, this “arbitration-friendly” quality of France extends to arbitral awards rendered against sovereign States and State entities. Indeed, as a procedural matter, and as further developed in Section II below, the steps that must be taken to obtain recognition of an arbitral award are the same vis-à-vis all losing parties, be they sovereigns or not.
Where the situation becomes more complex is with the actual enforcement of awards against sovereigns, given the issues of immunity from execution that arise as a matter of French conventions, legislation and case law. This is addressed in Section III of this chapter.
In Section IV, we address the particular issues that arise in enforcing arbitral awards against assets of a particular “emanation” (as defined below) of a sovereign State—depending on the identity of the emanation against which the award was rendered and the emanation that owns the assets in question.
II. PROCEDURAL STEPS
A. Preliminary Step: Obtaining Exequatur of an Arbitral Award
Before seeking the enforcement of an arbitral award in France, French law requires that such an award be granted exequatur, i.e., a signed and dated stamp affixed on the arbitral award confirming that such award may be enforced in the same manner as a local court judgment.