(1) The Claimants had advanced a case on the basis that the Award was res judicata. The judge held that he could not determine whether the Award could be enforced on this basis, because this was in issue in the pending proceedings before the GCEU and accordingly there was a real risk of inconsistent decisions if the domestic court were to decide as a matter of EU law that the Award could be enforced.
(2) The judge held that the Commission Decision did not prevent registration of the Award and accordingly he refused Romania's application to set aside registration. However, he held that the domestic court could not enforce the judgment consequent on registration of the Award in circumstances in which the Commission had prohibited Romania from making any payment under the Award to the Claimants. In his view this did not create a conflict with the international obligations of the United Kingdom under the ICSID Convention, because a purely domestic judgment would be subject to the same limitation.
(3) The judge held that the domestic court could not rule on whether article 351 TFEU applies in the present case because it was being considered by the GCEU and so there was a real risk of conflicting decisions if the domestic court were now to rule on the issue.
(4) The judge held that there was no conflict between the European Communities Act 1972 and the 1966 Act and accordingly he rejected a submission on behalf of the Claimants that the court should give priority on this ground to the 1966 Act.
(5) The judge held that he could not rule on the Claimants' arguments that EU law did not preclude enforcement because the issue had been raised before the GCEU and there was a real risk of conflict.
(6) The judge rejected arguments by Romania that the Award had already been paid in full.
(7) The judge held that the domestic court cannot rule on the validity of the BIT between Sweden and Romania, although he accepted the submission of behalf of the Claimants that the validity of that treaty was not relevant to the issues to be decided.
(1) The Court of Appeal did not agree with Blair J that the issue ought not to be decided because of a risk of conflict with the GCEU. However, it considered that to permit enforcement on the basis that the Award was res judicata would frustrate the effective application of EU State aid law.
(2) Arden and Leggatt LJJ held that Blair J had erred in holding that the effect of the 1966 Act, in implementing the ICSID Convention in domestic law, is to give an award upon registration the same status within English law as any other judgment. Hamblen LJ dissented on this issue and considered that Blair J had correctly held that there was no conflict between the international obligations of the United Kingdom under the ICSID Convention (and the 1966 Act which gives effect to those obligations) and under EU law.
(3) Arden and Leggatt LJJ held that a stay was within the powers of the domestic court because it was consistent with the purposes of the ICSID Convention and it was appropriate to exercise the discretion to order a stay on the facts of the case.
(4) Leggatt and Hamblen LJJ held that, if there was a conflict between the international obligations of the United Kingdom under the ICSID Convention as reflected in the 1966 Act and the court's duties under EU law, the judge had correctly concluded that there ought to be a stay because the applicability of article 351 TFEU was an issue before the GCEU and there was a clear risk of conflicting decisions.
Ground 1: The Court of Appeal erred in its approach to assessing whether there was a risk of conflict.
Ground 3: The security ordered and whether it is to be used to pay the Award is to be subject to the jurisdiction of the Commercial Court, which, from the date on which the United Kingdom withdraws from the EU, will not be bound to observe EU law. While the United Kingdom remains a member state of the EU, it is contrary to EU law for the Court of Appeal as an emanation of the State to create a situation whereby the authority of the EU institutions could be wholly circumvented.
Ground 4: By ordering Romania to provide security, the Court of Appeal has erred in going further than the process of enforcement which it itself considered to be premature.
Original Ground 1: Under the ICSID Convention and the 1966 Act there is no power to order a stay of the Award.
Original Ground 2: The stay is incompatible with the ICSID Convention in any event and serves no useful purpose.
Original Ground 3: The European Communities Act 1972 does not require the United Kingdom to breach its pre-accession obligations under the ICSID Convention as implemented by the 1966 Act.
Original Ground 4: Article 351 TFEU applies with the result that the obligations of the United Kingdom under the pre-accession ICSID Convention are not subject to the over-riding effect of EU law.
New Ground: The effect of the GCEU's judgment annulling the Commission Decision is that the duty of sincere co-operation can no longer require courts in this jurisdiction to stay enforcement of the award.
"Pursuant to the principle of sincere cooperation, the Union and the member states shall, in full mutual respect, assist each other in carrying out tasks which flow from the Treaties.
The member states shall take any appropriate measure, general or particular, to ensure fulfilment of the obligations arising out of the Treaties or resulting from the acts of the institutions of the Union.
The member states shall facilitate the achievement of the Union's tasks and refrain from any measure which could jeopardise the attainment of the Union's objectives."
"It is also important to note that the application of the European Union rules on State aid is based on an obligation of sincere cooperation between the national courts, on the one hand, and the Commission and the courts of the European Union, on the other, in the context of which each acts on the basis of the role assigned to it by the Treaty. In the context of that co-operation, national courts must take all the necessary measures, whether general or specific, to ensure fulfilment of the obligations under European Union law and refrain from those which may jeopardise the attainment of the objectives of the Treaty, as follows from article 4(3) TEU. Therefore, national courts must, in particular, refrain from taking decisions which conflict with a decision of the Commission..."
In imposing and upholding the stay in the present case, Blair J and the Court of Appeal both referred to this passage and acted on the premise that the Commission Decision was valid in accordance with the principle stated in Masterfoods v HB Ice Cream (Case C-344/98)  All ER (EC) 130, para 53 that:
"Acts of the Community institutions are in principle presumed to be lawful until such time as they are annulled or withdrawn."
"Actions brought before the Court of Justice of the European Union shall not have suspensory effect. The Court may, however, if it considers that circumstances so require, order that application of the contested act be suspended."
In the present case, no application has been made to suspend the application of the judgment of the GCEU. Similarly, article 279 TFEU provides that the CJEU may, in any cases before it, prescribe any necessary interim measures. No such measures have been sought or ordered. Accordingly, the Claimants submit that the reasoning in and the annulment ordered pursuant to the GCEU's judgment have full legal effect.
(1) the injunction decision of 26 May 2014 prohibiting Romania from implementing the award pending further investigation by the Commission; or
(2) the initiating decision of 1 October 2014 by which the Commission formally opened the State aid investigation.
They contend that neither is the subject of any successful or pending legal challenge and that, accordingly, the consequence of the relief granted by the GCEU is that the Commission's State aid investigation into Romania's implementation of the Award is reopened. The effect of this, they say, is that even if the Commission does not succeed in its appeal to the CJEU, it will be open to the Commission to re-take a State aid decision provided it can do so by addressing and avoiding the legal difficulties identified in the GCEU's judgment. In the meantime, the injunction decision continues to have effect. They maintain that the duty of sincere cooperation requires courts in this jurisdiction to refrain from taking decisions that would conflict with these decisions. In addition, they point to the pending appeal by the Commission to the CJEU and the possibility that the Commission Decision may yet be vindicated as creating a further risk of conflict which engages the duty of sincere co-operation.
"even assuming that the payment of compensation relating to that period could be classified as incompatible aid, given that the Commission did not draw a distinction between the periods of compensation for the damage suffered by the applicants before or after accession, the Commission has, in any event, exceeded its powers in the area of State aid review." (para 91)
"107. … the Commission is not competent and … EU law is not applicable to the EGO scheme, to its revocation or to the compensation for that revocation, because the arbitral award, which found that there was a right to compensation in 2013, did not have the effect of triggering the applicability of EU law and the Commission's competence to the earlier EGO tax incentives and, accordingly, to the compensation at issue which resulted therefrom.
108. Therefore, as the compensation at issue covered, at least in part, a period predating accession (from 22 February 2005 to 1 January 2007) and as the Commission did not draw a distinction, among the amounts to be recovered, between those falling within the period predating accession and those falling within the period subsequent to accession, the decision by which it classified the entirety of the compensation as aid is necessarily unlawful.
109. It follows that the contested decision is unlawful in so far as it classified as an advantage and aid within the meaning of article 107 TFEU the award, by the arbitral tribunal, of compensation intended to compensate for the damage resulting from the withdrawal of the tax incentives, at least in respect of the period predating the entry into force of EU law in Romania."
In summary, the GCEU held that the Commission had exceeded its competence to the extent that it had applied its State aid powers retroactively to events predating Romania's accession and the Commission Decision was unlawful to the extent that it classified as an advantage or aid compensation relating to the period prior to Romania's accession to the EU. As the Commission had not distinguished between the pre- and post-accession periods, the Commission Decision as a whole was annulled.
"However, by virtue of the retroactive effect of judgments by which measures are annulled, the finding of illegality takes effect from the date on which the annulled measure entered into force. It follows that in the present case the institution concerned is also under an obligation to eliminate from the regulations already adopted when the annulling judgment was delivered and governing marketing years after 1983/84 any provisions with the same effect as the provision held to be illegal." (para 30)
On behalf of the Claimants, Ms Demetriou QC submits that the injunction decision and the initiating decision are vitiated by the same legal errors which resulted in the annulment of the Commission Decision and that it is, therefore, not open to the Commission to rely on the preceding decisions as giving rise to a duty of sincere cooperation on the part of national courts.
"(58) The Commission considers that executing the Award would amount to 'new aid' in the sense of article 1(c) of Regulation (CE) No 659/1999 of 22 March 1999, as the decision to execute the Award would take place after the entry into force of the Treaty for Romania.
(59) It does not matter that the revocation of the EGO 24 facilities occurred before the entry into force of the Treaty for Romania or that the amount granted or to be granted would correspond, at least partially, to the operating expenses incurred by the claimants before the entry into force of the Treaty for Romania. For the purposes of State aid law it does not matter at which time these expenses were incurred; rather, the decisive point in time is the moment at which the State decides to relieve the undertaking of the economic burden that those expenses constitute."
Similarly, at para (34) the Commission states that implementation of the Award would grant to the Claimants an amount corresponding to the advantages foreseen under the abolished EGO 24 scheme from the moment it was repealed (22 February 2005) until the scheduled expiry (1 April 2009) and that this constitutes an economic advantage within article 107(1) TFEU. In the same way the preamble to the injunction decision states at para 23 that by implementing the award Romania is reinstating the EGO incentives and will grant to the Claimants the advantages foreseen under the abolished EGO 24 from its repeal until its scheduled expiry. These preliminary decisions are, therefore, subject to the same flaws as the Commission Decision.
"When the outcome of the dispute before the national court depends on the validity of the Commission decision, it follows from the obligation of sincere co-operation that the national court should, in order to avoid reaching a decision that runs counter to that of the Commission, stay its proceedings pending final judgment in the action for annulment by the Community Courts, unless it considers that, in the circumstances of the case, a reference to the Court of Justice for a preliminary ruling on the validity of the Commission decision is warranted." (para 57)
(1) The award shall be binding on the parties and shall not be subject to any appeal or to any other remedy except those provided for in this Convention. Each party shall abide by and comply with the terms of the award except to the extent that enforcement shall have been stayed pursuant to the relevant provisions of this Convention. …"
Article 54 provides in relevant part:
(1) Each Contracting State shall recognize an award rendered pursuant to this Convention as binding and enforce the pecuniary obligations imposed by that award within its territories as if it were a final judgment of a court in that State. …
(2) A party seeking recognition or enforcement in the territories of a Contracting State shall furnish to a competent court or other authority which such State shall have designated for this purpose a copy of the award certified by the Secretary-General. Each Contracting State shall notify the Secretary-General of the designation of the competent court or other authority for this purpose and of any subsequent change in such designation.
(3) Execution of the award shall be governed by the laws concerning the execution of judgments in force in the State in whose territories such execution is sought."
"2. Effect of registration.
(1) Subject to the provisions of this Act, an award registered under section 1 above shall, as respects the pecuniary obligations which it imposes, be of the same force and effect for the purposes of execution as if it had been a judgment of the High Court given when the award was rendered pursuant to the Convention and entered on the date of registration under this Act, and, so far as relates to such pecuniary obligations -
(a) proceedings may be taken on the award,
(b) the sum for which the award is registered shall carry interest,
(c) the High Court shall have the same control over the execution of the award,
as if the award had been such a judgment of the High Court.
(2) Rules of court under section 84 of the Senior Courts Act 1981 may contain provisions requiring the court on proof of the prescribed matters to stay execution of any award registered under this Act so as to take account of cases where enforcement of the award has been stayed (whether provisionally or otherwise) pursuant to the Convention, and may provide for the provisional stay of execution of the award where an application is made pursuant to the Convention which, if granted, might result in a stay of enforcement of the award."
"Where, on granting permission to register an award or an application made by the judgment debtor after an award has been registered, the court considers -
(a) that the enforcement of the award has been stayed (whether provisionally or otherwise) under the Convention; or
(b) that an application has been made under the Convention which, if granted, might result in a stay of the enforcement of the award,
the court may stay the enforcement of the award for such time as it considers appropriate."
"The system of review under the Convention is self-contained and does not permit any external review. This principle also extends to the stage of recognition and enforcement of ICSID awards. A domestic court or authority before which recognition and enforcement is sought is restricted to ascertaining the award's authenticity. It may not re-examine the ICSID tribunal's jurisdiction. It may not re-examine the award on the merits. Nor may it examine the fairness and propriety of the proceedings before the ICSID tribunal. This is in contrast to non-ICSID awards, including Additional Facility awards, which may be reviewed under domestic law and applicable treaties. In particular, the New York Convention gives a detailed list of grounds on which recognition and enforcement may be refused …" (Christoph H Schreuer, The ICSID Convention: A Commentary, 2nd ed (2009), p 1139, para 81)
"The Convention's drafting history shows that domestic authorities charged with recognition and enforcement have no discretion to review the award once its authenticity has been established. Not even the ordre public (public policy) of the forum may furnish a ground for refusal. The finality of awards would also exclude any examination of their compliance with international public policy or international law in general. The observance of international law is the task of the arbitral tribunal in application of article 42 of the Convention subject to a possible control by an ad hoc committee … Nor would there be any room for the application of the Act of State doctrine in connection with the recognition and enforcement of an ICSID award …" (Schreuer, pp 1140-1141, para 85)
"The fact that article 54(1) assimilates ICSID awards to final judgments of domestic courts implies that enforcement may be resisted in countries where national rules provide for an exceptional refusal to enforce a final judgment. Though this possibility was already acknowledged during the drafting of the Convention, it has not yet been relied upon in practice in order to defy recognition and enforcement of ICSID awards. Instead, past attempts to resist enforcement of awards have relied upon immunity from execution."
"The drafting history and the context of article 54(3) make it clear that the laws of the enforcing State that govern execution of an ICSID award are of a procedural nature only. Article 54(3) does not detract from the obligation of every State party to the Convention to enforce awards. In particular, the laws of the enforcing State may not serve as a standard for the review of awards. Article 54(3) does not affect the finality and nonreviewability of awards …" (p 1149, para 112)
for the effect of accession on pre-accession treaties and, accordingly, this ground of appeal collapses into Original Ground 4 to which we now turn.
"The rights and obligations arising from agreements concluded before 1 January 1958 or, for acceding States, before the date of their accession, between one or more member states on the one hand, and one or more third countries on the other, shall not be affected by the provisions of the Treaties.
To the extent that such agreements are not compatible with the Treaties, the member state or States concerned shall take all appropriate steps to eliminate the incompatibilities established. member states shall, where necessary, assist each other to this end and shall, where appropriate, adopt a common attitude.
In applying the agreements referred to in the first paragraph, member states shall take into account the fact that the advantages accorded under the Treaties by each member state form an integral part of the establishment of the Union and are thereby inseparably linked with the creation of common institutions, the conferring of powers upon them and the granting of the same advantages by all the other member states."
"… [I]n proceedings for a preliminary ruling, it is not for this Court but for the national court to determine which obligations are imposed by an earlier international agreement on the member state concerned and to ascertain their ambit so as to be able to determine the extent to which they constitute an obstacle to the application of … the directive." (para 21) [See also Office national de l'emploi v Minne (Case C-13/93)  ECR I-371, para 18.]
Similarly, in Evans Medical (Case C-324/93) the Court of Justice held (paras 29-30) that it was not for that court but for the national court to determine which obligations were imposed by the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, a treaty concluded by the United Kingdom before its accession, and to ascertain their ambit so as to be able to determine the extent to which they thwarted the application of Community law. The authorities cited by Romania on this point cast no doubt on the principle stated in Levy and Evans Medical. In Budĕjovický Budvar národní podnik v Rudolf Ammersin GmbH (Case C-216/01)  ECR I-13657, the obligation owed under the prior bilateral treaty was common ground (para 147). In T Port GmbH & Co v Hauptzollamt Hamburg-Jonas (Joined Cases C-364/95 and C-365/95)  ECR I-1023 the Court of Justice merely held that what is now article 351 TFEU did not apply in a case involving imports from a third country which was not at the relevant time a party to a prior international agreement concluded by member states (paras 61-65).
"It is, however, settled case law that the provisions of an agreement concluded prior to entry into force of the Treaty or prior to a member state's accession cannot be relied on in intraCommunity relations if, as in the present case, the rights of non-member countries are not involved …" (Emphasis added)
We note, however, that since its decision in RTE, the Court of Justice has had occasion to consider the Berne Convention in Luksan v van der Let (Case C-277/10) EU:C:2012:65;  ECDR 5, where it stated (para 58) that the Berne Convention displayed the characteristics of an international agreement for the purposes of article 351 TFEU, although it concluded (para 62) that article 351 TFEU was not engaged in that case because the relevant provision of the Convention allowed but did not require a member state to adopt a measure which appears to be contrary to EU law.
"If it did, other Contracting States might take such action as might be appropriate." (History, vol II-I, Doc 25 (30 April 1964) "Summary Record of Proceedings, Addis Ababa Consultative Meetings of Legal Experts, December 16-20, 1963", p 273)
Similarly, in the Sixth Session held on 20 February 1964 the Chairman acknowledged that a Contracting State's duty to comply with an award was owed to all other Contracting States.
"Apart from legal sanctions based on the revival of the right of diplomatic protection of the investor's State there would be even more serious indirect sanctions because a State which did not comply would fail to meet its obligations not only to the investor but also to the community of Contracting States which would presumably include capital-exporting countries from which the losing State could expect assistance." (History, vol II-I, Doc 29 (1 June 1964) "Summary Record of Proceedings, Geneva Consultative Meetings of Legal Experts, February, 1722, 1964", p 425)
Although these statements were made in the context of compliance with awards, as opposed to recognition and enforcement, they are powerful indications that obligations under the ICSID Convention are owed by all Contracting States to the community of Contracting States.
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