Author

Mr Matthew Koh

Senior Associate - Rajah & Tann Singapore LLP

Enforcement of Awards

I. Introduction

1.

Generally, the enforcement of awards represents the conversion of a favourable award into concrete relief for the claimant, for example, by leading up to execution proceedings.1 The enforcement of investor-State arbitration awards falls into two main categories: enforcement of awards made under the ICSID Convention, and enforcement of non-ICSID awards, which is generally pursuant to the New York Convention or other systems such as for the enforcement of OHADA awards.

II. Recognition and Enforcement of ICSID awards

2.

Recognition and enforcement of ICSID awards is governed by the ICSID Convention. All State parties to the ICSID Convention are obliged to recognise ICSID arbitration awards. An award is to be binding and not subject to any appeal or any other remedy.2 The ICSID Convention accepts no grounds whatsoever for national courts to refuse recognition and enforcement of ICSID tribunal awards, the effect of which is to make the ICSID Convention even more favourable to the recognition and enforcement of awards than the New York Convention.3

3.

Under the framework of the ICSID Convention:

  1. A State is to recognise ICSID awards as binding and enforce the pecuniary obligations imposed by that award within its territories as if it were a final judgment of a court of that State.4
  2. Execution of the award is to be governed by the laws concerning execution of judgments in the State where execution is sought.5
  3. The enforcement of ICSID awards does not derogate from any State's laws relating to State immunity from execution.7

III. Recognition and Enforcement of non-ICSID awards

4.

Recognition and enforcement of non-ICSID awards are generally governed by the laws of the State where setting aside or enforcement proceedings are brought.8 Where the State where enforcement is sought and the seat of the arbitration are both parties to the New York Convention, recognition of the award is subject to the New York Convention. The New York Convention, Article V, sets out exhaustive grounds for a court to refuse to recognise or enforce an award.9 Parties commonly choose to seat their arbitration in a country that is party to the New York Convention in view of eventual enforcement of the award.

5.

Enforcement of OHADA awards, i.e. those made in arbitrations seated in one of the OHADA States,10 can be sought under the OHADA Uniform Act on Arbitration Law11 incorporated as domestic legislation within OHADA States. If the investment arbitration award has been rendered by an arbitral tribunal under the auspices of the Common Court and Justice of Arbitration (CCJA), its enforcement or annulment within the OHADA States is governed by the CCJA Arbitration Rules.12

IV. Stay of enforcement of ICSID awards

6.

Stay of enforcement of an ICSID award is available where a party applies to annul, interpret or revise all or part an award. That party may then request for a stay of enforcement, which will be decided by the ad hoc Committee constituted to hear the request for annulment.13 Where an application for revision, interpretation or annulment contains a request for a stay of enforcement, the Secretary-General shall stay the award provisionally.14

V. Stay of enforcement of non-ICSID awards

7.

Stay of enforcement of non-ICSID awards is generally governed by the law of the State where recognition or enforcement is sought. Where the New York Convention applies, Article VI provides that if an application for the setting aside or suspension of the award has been made, the court may adjourn the decision on the enforcement of the award.15 It is open to a court to stay only part of an award, while ordering the rest to be enforced.

Bibliography

Gaillard, E. and Siino, B., Enforcement under the New York Convention, Global Arbitration Review

Douajni, G., Recent Developments in OHADA Arbitration, Global Arbitration Review.

Kronke, H., Nacimiento, P., Otto, D. and Port, N. (eds.), Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards: A Global Commentary on the New York Convention, Kluwer Law International, 2010.

Reinmar, W. (ed.), The New York Convention: A Commentary, 2nd ed., Hart Publishing, 2019.

Douajni, G., The Recognition and Enforcement of Arbitral Awards in OHADA Member States, 20 J. Int'l Arb. 205, 2003.

UNCITRAL 2012 Digest of Case Law on the Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration, United Nations, 2012, United Nations Publication Sales No. E.12.V.9.

UNCITRAL Secretariat Guide on the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (New York, 1958), United Nations, 2016, United Nations Publication Sales No. E.16.V.7.

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