Eric Teynier, Partner, Teynier, Pic & Associés, Paris; Eric Teynier has represented governments and private parties in domestic and international arbitration proceedings, both ad hoc and under the aegis of the ICC, AAA, OHBLA / OHADA and AFA. He lectures on arbitration at the University of Paris X.
If a legal or natural person wishes to enforce in France an arbitral award rendered against a State, two different sets of rules apply: French domestic law and international law.
The relevant French domestic provisions are Articles 1 and 2 of the Law of July 9, 1991 on Civil Execution Procedures (“1991 Law”) and Articles 2284 and 2285 of the Civil Code1, which provide that execution measures must be aimed at the assets of the debtor that constitute the common security of its creditors. Article 1, paragraph 3, of the 1991 Law provides that execution measures do not apply to persons or entities which benefit from an immunity from execution. In the international sphere, public international law rules governing inter-State relations grant the benefit of immunity to foreign States.2 Consequently, an award against a State will not be enforced, at least not against assets it has allocated to a sovereign activity.