Stanimir A. Alexandrov, Partner and Senior International Advisor, Sidley Austin Brown & Wood LLP, Washington, D.C.; Member of the legal team representing Compañía de Aguas del Aconquija and Vivendi Universal before ICSID. He was formerly the Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bulgaria.
The Decision on Annulment in Vivendi v. Argentina, issued on July 3, 2002, will be of particular interest to international law scholars and practitioners. First and foremost, it represents only the fourth occasion in ICSID’s over 35-year history in which the decision of an arbitral tribunal has been annulled under Article 52 of the ICSID Convention, and thus constitutes a significant addition to the case law on annulment. In advancing the jurisprudence of annulment, the Decision also offers important lessons to the parties considering seeking the annulment of an adverse award.
In addition, in the course of its Decision the ad hoc Committee discussed and affirmed key precepts of bilateral investment treaty (“BIT”) arbitration. The Committee confirmed that ICSID tribunals have jurisdiction over, and are obliged to decide the merits of, claims of breach of a BIT even if a forum selection clause in the contract out of which the dispute arises provides for the exclusive jurisdiction of local courts. It also suggested that the distinction between “sovereign” and “contractual” acts of a government might lose its relevance in the context of arbitrating BIT claims.