Poland v LC CORP BV. A second refusal for ISDS Achmea /Komstroy anti-suit, following Spain v Blasket Renewable Investments LLC and adding to the ECT fog.

In Poland v LC Corp BV, the Amsterdam first instance court mid-March refused Poland’s application for an anti-suit injunction, which would have prohibited LC Corp from seeking UNCITRAL arbitration under the now defunct Poland-Netherlands BIT, with London as curial seat.

The case echoes that of Kingdom of Spain v Blasket Renewable Investments LLC, in which the Amsterdam Court had earlier declined to hear an anti-suit injunction petition by Spain to prevent renewable investors from enforcing arbitral awards in the US: see Josep Galvez’s summary here. That case however in the meantime has encountered quite the opposite reaction from a US judge, who held end of March that Spain enjoys sovereign immunity in the case and that as a result of the CJEU’s Komstroy’s authority, neither Spain nor the defendant had power to sign up to arbitration, hence dismissing the petition to confirm an arbitral award rendered pursuant to the Energy Charter Treaty.  In turn, that decision is in contrast with earlier orders in 9REN v the Kingdom of Spain and NextEra v the Kingdom of Spain as Curtis summarise here. The Court of Appeal will now hear those issues.

The case, as Geraldo Vidigal reminded me, is also reminiscent of the interlocutory decision in ECLI:NL:RBAMS:2022:5772, also involving Poland yet in that case with an anonymised Dutch corporate defendant. In that judgment the arbitration procedure was suggested as the currently only available way for the corporation to have its day in ‘court’, seeing as in the view of the judge, the Polish rule of law crisis  questions the impartiality of the Polish courts, and the EU’s alternative Investment Court is not yet operational. Johannes Hendrik Fahner discusses that case here.

In current case, the court first of all holds that Brussels Ia’s arbitration exception is not engaged, for the case’s core, it suggests, is whether the pursuit of an arbitration proceeding despite CJEU Achmea, constitutes abuse of process. The case, it holds (4.3) does not have the questions  put to the arbitral tribunal as its object, hence the arbitration exception is not in play.
4.5 the Court re applicable law holds parties have made choice of law for Dutch law under Article 14 Rome II, obiter suggesting that finding locus damni under Rome II Article 4(1)’s general rule is not self-evident: would the damage of an abusive pursuit of arbitration proceedings, be located in The Netherlands? It is not entirely clear to me why the Court discusses applicable law (other than Dutch courts having to do so proprio motu.
4.12 the court refers to the tribunal’s Kompetenz Kompetenz. The curial seat being located outside the EU, in London, is a crucial element in the court’s reasoning, despite CJEU Achmea: it is not prima facie clear that the tribunal will refuse to hear the case. Given the overall fog re the consequences of the CJEU case-law on extra-EU arbitration, the issues are not clearly without foundation hence cannot constitute abuse.

 

With recent Australian developments (blogpost imminent), even more proverbial ECT s**** is hitting the fan. IMHO this conundrum is not going to be solved by ever more procedural forum shopping with conflicting outcomes.

Geert.

One Reply to “Poland v LC CORP BV. A second refusal for ISDS Achmea /Komstroy anti-suit, following Spain v Blasket Renewable Investments LLC and adding to the ECT fog.”

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