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The award

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?

In order for an international or foreign award to be recognised in France, it is necessary to establish its existence by producing the original award and arbitration agreement. French courts will recognise the award if it is not manifestly contrary to international public policy (Articles 1514 and 1515 of the Code of Civil Procedure). The order granting recognition of the award is subject to appeal on the limited grounds set forth in Article 1520 of the code. 

Decree 2011-48 also provides that an award shall state:

  • the full names and address of the parties;
  • the names of the counsel, if applicable;
  • the names of the arbitrators;
  • the date and place of the award (Article 1481 of the code); and
  • a “succinct” description of the claims and arguments of the parties and the reasons for the arbitrators’ decision (Article 1482 of the code). 

Failure to comply with these requirements does not affect the validity of an international award (Article 1520 of the code). By contrast, a domestic award will be void if it:

  • is not signed by all arbitrators (or does not state that a minority refused to sign);
  • does not include the name of the arbitrators and date of the award; or
  • does not contain the reasons for the award (Articles 1483 and 1492 of the code).

Timeframe for delivery
Are there any time limits on delivery of the award?

In domestic arbitration, the duration of the tribunal’s mandate is limited to six months “as of the date on which the tribunal is seized of the dispute” (Article 1463 of the Code of Civil Procedure). However, any time limit set pursuant to Article 1463 or the applicable arbitration rules can be extended by agreement between the parties, the administering institution or the supporting judge (Article 1463(2) of the code). Decree 2011-48 does not contain time limits on delivery of an international award. 

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

The issue of remedies is governed by the law applicable to the merits of the arbitration. Under French law, there are no express limits on available remedies in international arbitration. The tribunal may order specific performance of a contract or award monetary damages. The upper limit on available remedies is the French understanding of international public policy. For example, French courts may refuse to enforce an award for punitive damages if there is no causal link between the harm incurred and the amount awarded.

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

The power of the French courts to order provisional or conservatory measures depends on whether the tribunal has been constituted (Article 1449 of the Code of Civil Procedure). Pending constitution of the tribunal, the French courts can issue a broad range of interim measures designed to maintain the status quo or put an end to an emergency situation (Article 1449 of the code). For instance, the courts may freeze assets, order the preservation of evidence or appoint an expert. Irrespective of whether the tribunal has been constituted, only the courts can order the attachment of assets and the registration of a mortgage or pledge on the debtor’s assets.

Can interest be awarded?

Nothing in Decree 2011-48 prevents a tribunal from awarding interest on an award. 

At what rate?

An award of interest and its rate will be determined by the tribunal, taking into account the substantive and procedural law of the arbitration, any agreement of the parties and principles of public policy. Under French law, the award of interest is governed by the law applicable to the merits of the dispute and interest can be awarded on the principal and on costs. 

Is the award final and binding?

An arbitration award is final and binding with regard to the adjudicated claims (Article 1485 of the Code of Civil Procedure).

What if there are any mistakes?

Within three months of notification of the award, a party may apply to the tribunal for:

  • interpretation of the award;
  • rectification of clerical errors and omissions; or
  • an additional award where the tribunal failed to rule on a claim. 

The tribunal shall render its decision within three months of the application, with a possible extension of this time limit (Articles 1485 and 1486 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?

In the case of international arbitration, Decree 2011-48 expressly allows the parties to waive the right to seek to have the award set aside or annulled by a French court, irrespective of their nationality or domicile. However, the parties cannot waive their right to challenge or resist the enforcement of an award in France (Article 1522 of the Code of Civil Procedure). 

What is the procedure for challenging awards?

A request to set aside an international award issued in France should be brought before the court of appeal of the place where the award was issued. The recourse can be filed at any time up to one month after notification of the award (Article 1519 of the Code of Civil Procedure). The award shall be notified by service, unless the parties agree otherwise.

International awards that are the subject of setting aside proceedings in France can be enforced in France without having to await the outcome of such proceedings, unless otherwise ordered by a court (Article 1526 of the code). 

On what grounds can parties appeal an award?

The only recourse against an international award issued in France is an action to set aside, not an appeal (Article 1518 of the Code of Civil Procedure). Article 1520 of the code lists five limited grounds for challenging an award:

  • 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 not respected.
  • Recognition or enforcement of the award would be contrary to international public policy. This requires that the violation be “flagrant, effective and concrete”.

The grounds for recourse against an order granting recognition or enforcement of a foreign award are the same as those for setting aside an international award issued in France (Article 1525 of the code).

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

An action to enforce an award is brought before the Tribunal de grande instance of the place where the award was made or the Paris Tribunal de grande instance if the award was issued abroad. The request for recognition (exequatur) is written on the original award (or a copy thereof), and submitted ex parte to the Tribunal de grande instance with a copy of the arbitration agreement (and translations thereof if the documents are not in French). The Tribunal de grande instance will issue the recognition order if the award is authentic and if recognition and enforcement is not contrary to international public policy. 

The recognition order is a short standard text affixed to the award or its translation. In the rare occurrence where an order denies enforcement, it must state the reasons for doing so (Article 1514 of the Code of Civil Procedure). Such an order may be appealed (Article 1523 of the code). 

Can awards be enforced in local courts?

The enforcement order enables the interested party to pursue forced execution of the award in France. 

How enforceable is the award internationally?

As France is a party to the New York Convention, awards issued in France are fairly easy to enforce abroad.

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

French law recognises immunity from execution as a defence to enforcement against a state or a state entity. This defence can be waived by the state or state entity – for instance, by agreeing to execute an award in conformity with the International Chamber of Commerce Rules of Arbitration. Under certain circumstances, absent a waiver from the state, assets having an economic or commercial use and a connection with the dispute may still be attached.

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

Pursuant to Article 1502 of the Code of Civil Procedure, parties may, in limited circumstances, apply for revision of an award by the tribunal (eg, in case of fraud). If the tribunal cannot be reconvened, the application will be heard by the court of appeal which would have jurisdiction to hear other forms of recourse against the award.

How enforceable are foreign arbitral awards in your jurisdiction?

The grounds for recourse against an order granting recognition or enforcement of a foreign award are the same as those for setting aside an international award issued in France (Article 1525 of the Code of Civil Procedure).

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

French courts may enforce awards that have been set aside by the courts of the seat of arbitration. The enforcement order can then be appealed only on the basis of the five limited criteria of Article 1520 of the Code of Civil Procedure.

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