On April 20, 2016, a Dutch court issued a major judgment annulling awards rendered in a dispute between the Russian Federation and three majority shareholders of the former giant Russian oil producer, OAO Yukos Oil Company (“Yukos”). The annulment by a national court of any investor-State award is always of great moment, but it was particularly so in the case of an award in excess of $50 billion. Discussion of the judgment has understandably occupied much of the international arbitration blogosphere.
After setting out the basic facts of the case, this piece briefly describes the position that the Tribunal had taken and that the Dutch court found sufficiently flawed to justify the award’s annulment. It then examines the court’s own reasoning in some detail. Lastly, it shows that, however momentous the annulment may have been, the Dutch court avoided answering several very difficult and important questions that it might otherwise have had to address and that warrent serious consideration.