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The award

Requirements

What legal requirements are there for recognition of an award? Must reasons be given for the award? Does the award need to be reviewed by any other body?

Arbitral awards are recognised and enforced in France when applicants can prove their existence and their recognition and enforcement does not violate international public policy (Article 1514 of the Code of Civil Procedure).

Under Article 1515, the applicant must provide the original award and the arbitration agreement or authenticated copies of these documents (with French translations where applicable).

The president of the Tribunal de Grande Instance de Paris has jurisdiction over the recognition and enforcement of international arbitral awards.

Exequatur of awards is granted in ex parte proceedings where representation by a French attorney is mandatory (Article 813 of the Code of Civil Procedure).

Timeframe for delivery

Are there any time limits on delivery of the award?

Parties may agree a timeframe for the tribunal to decide the dispute.

No express rule governs this issue in international arbitration.

Remedies

Does the law impose limits on the available remedies? Are some remedies not enforceable by the court?

All remedies are available provided that they are not contrary to French international public order.

In 2009 the Court of Cassation put an end to the debate surrounding the enforcement of arbitral anti-suit injunctions, which it held to be enforceable in France (Cass 1st Civ, October 14 2009).

The enforcement of awards of punitive damages is debated. In French law, damages can only be compensatory and therefore should not exceed the amount of the loss sustained by the injured party. However, punitive damages are not per se contrary to French international public order, provided that the amount of those damages is not “disproportionate in light of the loss sustained and the contractual breach” (Cass 1st Civ, December 1 2010).

What interim measures are available? Will local courts issue interim measures pending constitution of the tribunal?

Pending constitution of the tribunal, local courts may order instruction measures (ie, measures aimed at obtaining evidence or preventing the disappearance or destruction of evidence), as well as provisional and conservatory measures (Articles 1449 and 1506(1) of the Code of Civil Procedure).

Once the tribunal has been constituted, the tribunal may issue any conservatory or provisional measures that it deems appropriate and may attach penalties to such orders (Article 1468). However, pursuant to the same article, national courts retain exclusive jurisdiction to order conservatory attachments and judicial securities. Similarly, only local courts can order third parties to produce documents in relation to the arbitration proceedings (Article 1467).

Interest

Can interest be awarded?

It is commonly accepted that tribunals can award interest and that they enjoy a broad discretion to do so. In most cases, the applicable law or the terms of the contract provide little guidance on this. 

At what rate?

There is no express rule on this issue. However, French courts consider that, according to Article 1153-1 of the Civil Code, the amount of compensation awarded accrues interest at the statutory rate from the date of the award, even if the award is silent on this point (Cass 1st Civ, June 30 2004).

Finality

Is the award final and binding?

Awards are binding as soon as they are rendered (Article 1484 of the Code of Civil Procedure).

In international arbitration, awards can be challenged only in annulment proceedings (Article 1518) and are per se provisionally enforceable (Article 1526).

Notwithstanding this, if the award is provisionally enforceable and enforcement may lead to excessive consequences, national courts may stay or set conditions for enforcement of the award (Articles 1497 and 1526). 

What if there are any mistakes?

After the award is rendered, the parties can apply to the tribunal to interpret the award, rectify clerical mistakes or make an additional award where it failed to rule on a claim. The tribunal must do so after hearing the parties or giving them the opportunity to be heard. If the tribunal cannot be reconvened and if the parties cannot agree on the constitution of a new tribunal, the national courts will have jurisdiction to decide the aforementioned requests (Articles 1485 and 1506(4) of the Code of Civil Procedure).

Can the parties exclude by agreement any right of appeal or other recourse that the law of your jurisdiction may provide?

The parties are entitled to waive their right to bring an action to set aside the award. However, the enforcement of the award can always be challenged (Article 1522 of the Code of Civil Procedure). 

Appeal

What is the procedure for challenging awards?

Awards rendered in France may be challenged by way of either an action to set aside the award (Article 1518 of the Code of Civil Procedure) or an appeal against the order granting enforcement within one month following service of the order or award (Article 1523). Since the 2011 reform, Article 1522 of the code provides that parties can waive their right to bring an action to set aside the award. Challenges must be brought before the appeal court of the place where the award was made (Article 1519 of the Code of Civil Procedure). 

On what grounds can parties appeal an award?

Article 1520 of the Code of Civil Procedure provides only the following limited grounds for setting aside awards: 

  • The tribunal wrongly upheld or declined jurisdiction.
  • The tribunal was not properly constituted.
  • The tribunal ruled without complying with its mandate.
  • The principles of due process and fair trial were violated.
  • The award is contrary to public policy.

Enforcement

What steps can be taken to enforce the award if there is a failure to comply?

If the losing party does not comply with the award voluntarily, the winning party may commence enforcement proceedings. Under French law, the winning party may seek assistance from bailiffs to locate the losing party’s assets and conduct the necessary operations for the enforcement of the award.

Can awards be enforced in local courts?

The parties must seek exequatur of the award before it can be enforced in local courts.

How enforceable is the award internationally?

This depends on the rules of the foreign state in which enforcement of the award is sought, together with applicable treaties. 

To what extent might a state or state entity successfully raise a defence of state or sovereign immunity at the enforcement stage?

In principle, assets belonging to sovereign states are immune from execution in France unless they are:

  • assets used by the state for purely commercial purposes; or
  • assets over which the state has specifically waived its immunity.

In 2016 Articles L.111-1-1, L.111-1-2 and L.111-1-3 of the Code of Civil Execution Procedures clarified the conditions under which enforcement proceedings can target state assets.

Are there any other bases on which an award may be challenged, and if so, by what?

Parties may apply to the tribunal for revision of the award in circumstances where:

  • the winning party obtained a favourable decision by fraud;
  • a party withheld decisive evidence;
  • the tribunal ruled on the basis of evidence that was judicially found to be fabricated or forged after the award was rendered; or
  • the tribunal ruled on the basis of statements and testimonies that were judicially found to false after the award was rendered.

How enforceable are foreign arbitral awards in your jurisdiction?

In general, French courts are liberal regarding the recognition and enforcement of arbitral awards. 

Will an award that has been set aside by the courts in the seat of arbitration be enforced in your jurisdiction?

French courts can recognise and enforce an arbitral award regardless of the fact that the award was set aside at the seat of arbitration (eg, Cass 1st Civ, June 10 1997, Hilmarton; Cass 1st Civ, June 29 2007, Putrabali).

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