Archive for the Uncategorized Category

Chairperson, Kluwer Turkey & Middle East 4th annual International Arbitration Summit

Posted in Uncategorized on September 25, 2017 by leginsky

I am proud to be chairing the Kluwer Turkey & Middle East 4th annual International Arbitration Summit in Istanbul.  Please see the programme here Turkey-Arb-Master.

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A change of direction for Saudi Arabia?

Posted in arbitration, Arbitrator, Dispute Resolution, KSA, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on June 30, 2016 by leginsky

Alison Ross • Wednesday, 29 June 2016

CORRECTED. In a development hailed as signalling a change of direction for Saudi Arabia in the wake of new arbitration and enforcement laws, a court in Riyadh has confirmed that a US$18.5 million ICC arbitral award will be enforced against a Saudi-domiciled debtor.

Riyadh

While Saudi Arabia does not make its enforcement decisions public, DLA Piper, as counsel to the enforcing party, announced the development on its website recently. The date of the decision is unknown.

Partners Henry Quinlan and Amer Abdulaziz Al-Amr, who are based in Dubai and Riyadh respectively, say “the decision to enforce this major foreign award, in addition to the relative speed with which the decision was reached [in just three months of the case being referred to the court] is one of the most significant developments in arbitration in the Middle East for many years”.

In the past, obtaining recognition and enforcement of foreign arbitral awards has been “fraught with difficulty” in Saudi Arabia, which is “one of the most problematic New York Convention signatory countries”, they explain.

“As a result, contracting with Saudi parties with no identifiable assets outside the kingdom has always added a layer of risk. However, the kingdom recently revamped its arbitration and enforcement laws to more closely reflect international standards – changes which prompt the hope that Saudi might become a more arbitration-friendly jurisdiction as it seeks to diversify its economy and encourage more foreign investment.”

This decision is the first sign that the “situation is changing for the better,” they say.

An arbitration at a time of transition

Quinlan and Abdulaziz report how, in 2011, an experienced London-seated tribunal issued an award ordering a Saudi data communications service company to pay their client, th United Arab Emirates subsidiary of a Greek telecommunications company, US$18.5 million damages. The UAE claimant was also successful in defending counterclaims totalling US$350 million. The tribunal is understood to have included three UK arbitrators, Stuart Isaacs QC (as chair), Andrew Foyle and Ian Hunter QC.

During the course of a proceeding to enforce the award in Saudi Arabia, the country passed two new laws by royal decree: an arbitration law based on the UNCITRAL Model Law and an enforcement law (in 2012 and 2013, respectively). These replaced legislation from the 1980s which was seen as unsupportive of the arbitral process.

One requirement of the 2012 enforcement law was that parties seeking recognition and enforcement of foreign arbitral awards bring proceedings before a new specialist enforcement court, rather than before the courts of the Board of Grievances – Saudi Arabia’s independent judicial committee answerable to the king.

The UAE company accordingly transferred its enforcement application to the new court, where it was recognised, confirmed and converted into an executable Saudi court order three months later. No appeals are permitted from decisions of the court.

Quinlan and Abdulaziz state that in confirming the enforceability of the award in accordance with the new law, the judge had to satisfy himself that the country in which the award was rendered would reciprocate by enforcing awards issued in Saudi Arabia – established by simple reference to the UK’s accession to the New York Convention.

The judge also had to satisfy himself that the Saudi courts had no jurisdiction to hear the dispute owing to an arbitration clause in the contract; that the arbitration complied with due process; that the award was in final form according to the law of the seat; that it was not inconsistent with a judgment or order in relation to the same dispute issued by a competent local court; and that it did not contradict Saudi public policy or Saudi law (which reflects shariah law principles).

“The award did not include any award of interest, which might otherwise have been problematic,” Quinlan and Abdulaziz note.

Having issued the order, they say the powers of the enforcement court were “significant”. If the Saudi award debtor failed to pay the sum owed or to disclose property sufficient to satisfy the award within five days of notification, it would be deemed to be procrastinating and the enforcement judge could ban the award debtor (or its directors) from travel; suspend their ability to issue powers of attorney in relation to assets; order disclosure of and attach assets and revenues to the amount of the award; order disclosure of company licences and records; and notify credit agencies of the unpaid award so they could be added to a credit blacklist.

It is not clear whether payment was made or if the court took any of these steps.

No longer the black sheep

Raza Mithani, a partner at Berwin Leighton Paisner in Dubai who handles Saudi-related disputes, tells GAR that arbitration (or takheem, as it is known in Arabic) has deep roots in Middle Eastern legal tradition and can be traced back to the earliest sources of shariah law.

He says Saudi Arabia acceded to the New York Convention in 1994; however, the unsupportive previous legal framework for arbitration means it has been “underutilised as a method of resolving disputes in the kingdom”.

This rare reported enforcement decision marks a break with the past, when the Board of Grievances “was reluctant to enforce awards and would review their merits” and is “an encouraging sign that the new laws are being implemented”, Mithani says.

Mithani also highlights other changes to the Saudi arbitration regime thanks to the new legislation. Arbitrations can be conducted in languages other than Arabic if the tribunal so directs; the right of parties to apply the substantive laws and institutional arbitration rules of their choice is recognised; the need for parties to get their arbitration agreement validated by the courts before arbitration starts has been scrapped; and the there is a 12 month time limit for issuing awards, extendable by six months, as opposed to the overambitious 90-day limit under the old law.

Crucially, the new arbitration law prevents the Saudi courts from re-examining the facts of a case, although it can still review awards for compliance with shariah. The changes led Reza Mohtashami of Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer to describe Saudi Arabia at GAR Live Dubai in 2013 as “no longer the black sheep of the region”.

When it comes to enforcement, the new dedicated court offers hope of a more streamlined process and consistency of decisions.

Saudi Arabia approved plans to set up a new commercial arbitration centre in 2014, with board members announced soon after. At around the same time, there were reports of a plan to establish a specialist Saudi-British Arbitration Centre in London, where a panel of arbitrators including former British judges would determine disputes under English law, using shariah-compliant procedural rules. It is understood both centres have yet to open.

In the Riyadh enforcement proceeding

Counsel to the claimant (UAE subsidiary of a Greek telecoms company)

  • DLA Piper

Partners Henry Quinlan in Dubai and Amer Abdulaziz Al-Amr in Riyadh

Counsel to the respondent (Saudi data communications provider)

  • Squire Patton Boggs

Partner Dale Stephenson in Riyadh

In the London-seated ICC arbitration

Tribunal

Counsel to the claimant (UAE subsidiary of a Greek telecoms company)

  • DLA Piper

Partner Ioannis Alexopoulos* and legal director Elinor Thomas in London

* joined the London office of Bryan Cave in January 2015

Counsel to the respondent (Saudi data communications provider)

  • Squire Sanders & Dempsey*

Partners Carol Welu in London and Dale Stephenson in Riyadh

* following merger, became Squire Patton Boggs

Turkey Trip- Day 8

Posted in Uncategorized on July 9, 2010 by leginsky

I started in Kas, the southernmost part of the journey. It is a beautiful Mediterranean sea coast vacation town, with beach clubs, bars and according to the youths in our group, a lame night-life. I left the group today. They are now backtracking to Syria and Jordan. I am proceeding onwards to Istanbul- yea! Next major stop after Kas was Marmaris. An even more beautiful Mediterranean sea coast vacation town, with beach clubs, bars, yachts and hi-end jewellery and gold shops- and I’ll bet a fabulous night-life. The road out of Marmaris is crazy- one of those you climb n-thousand feet in nanoseconds. When I get to a computer I will show you pics. (I am n Selcuk tonight and did not see an I-cafe). Two different sets of mountains; lots of fabulous riding. I am in Selcuk tonight, known for a castle, antiquities (it is near Ephesus) and storks. Pics of all that coming. Also good cop sis here (pronounced chop shish). Meat on skewers. Inshallah I will find a computer tomorrow and upload some pics! Until then, keep smilin’. It will fool people into thinking you’re up to something! .

Turkey Trip Day 6

Posted in Uncategorized on July 7, 2010 by leginsky

Hi! No pics again today. We are staying in the Olympis Park outside of Kemer, just down from Antalya, Turkey. This is a complete thow-back to hippie-dom. Our supper (for 9 men on a tear) was vegetarian. Now I’m not passing judgement on that but a bit ‘o beef might have suited. Nontheless, the Turkish coast is absolutely gorgeous, with craggy mountains coming down to the ocean. Our hippie accomodation is great and there is an on-site rock band (which is very good) to keep us entertained. But I again do not have access to a computer to give you the picutues. I will do so tomorrow. Did I say they have treehouses to stay in?

Turkey Trip Day 5

Posted in Uncategorized on July 5, 2010 by leginsky

Twisting and turning on the Turkish Mediteranean coast!! I do not have access to a computer today, so no pics. Very sorry!! I just put this in on my BlackBerry. Have a day off, and much more tomorrow.

Beat it big boy … already done da ‘ting

Posted in Animals, Dubai, Middle East, reflection, UAE life and culture, Uncategorized with tags , , , on May 17, 2010 by leginsky

Saw this guy this morning, but I think he’s barking up the wrong tree (or whatever the peacock equivalent might be).  He seems to be trying to impress this lady, but can he not see that she already has her chicks, and is probably too busy to succumb to his obvious charms.  (Please click on the picture for a better view – it’s a bit fuzzy) 

Better luck in a month or so!

Back from Damascus

Posted in reflection, Travel, Uncategorized on December 28, 2008 by leginsky

Just back from Damascus.  I learned many things: Air Arabia’s holidays work very well – kudos to them; Damascus and area are rich in history that belongs to the world – everyone should experience it.  My wife Kathryn and I had a driver take us to  the two religious villages of Saidnaya and Mallula.  Many great scenes and thought – churches, monasteries, mountains and great people.  The attached picture shows a Mallula store owner (standing) with driver (seated).  The store owner speaks Aramaic and sells religious nic nacs.

mallula-store-owner-and-driver1

Too much to tell – just go!