The most relevant updates from Middle East and Africa from the global International Arbitration and ADR practice group at Garrigues.
Angolan telecom dispute heard by first-ever 5-member ICC tribunal
The first ever five-person ICC tribunal has held the hearing on the merits of the US$2.8 billion arbitration dispute between four shareholders in Angola’s largest telecoms company, Unitel, over unpaid dividends and other alleged breaches of their shareholders’ agreement. It is understood that the dispute relates to the ownership structure of Unitel. The claim was filed in 2015 by PT Ventures, a subsidiary of Brazilian telecom operator Oi, which holds a 25% shareholding in the company, on the basis of the shareholders’ agreement signed 15 years before. PT Ventures allegedly blames the other shareholders for Unitel’s failure to pay €665 million in dividends since 2011 and other breaches and alleges that it was prevented from exercising certain shareholder rights.
ICC Tribunal rejects interim measures against Burkina Faso in mining dispute
An ICC tribunal has recently rejected a request for interim measures from the Pan African group of companies in a multibillion-dollar dispute with Burkina Faso over one of the world’s largest manganese mines. In its decision, the tribunal refused to order the state to suspend its decision taken on 14 February to terminate a 2012 agreement with Pan African Minerals, a dispute arising in 2015 when Burkina Faso’s transitional government halted operations at the mine as part of a process to review all mining contracts awarded under the former president Blaise Compaoré regime. While the suspension was lifted nine months later, the claimants claim to have lost nearly US$10 million per month while operations at the mine were halted, the amount in dispute allegedly rising to over US$4 billion.
Cairo appeal court enforces foreign ICC interim measures award
The Court of Appeal in Cairo has recently affirmed the recognition and enforcement of an interim measures order issued by a foreign arbitral tribunal in an ICC dispute between a South Korean industrial group and the developer of Damietta port in northern Egypt. Despite the challenge of the chief justice of one of Egypt’s eight appeal courts to reject to recognize and enforce the tribunal's interim measures, the court turned to the 2006 UNCITRAL Model Arbitration Law, which includes specific provisions on the enforcement of interim measures, to fill in certain Egyptian law gaps and allow enforcement.
Libya hit by US$450 million BIT claim award
French construction company Solerec has recently obtained a favourable award against Libya in an ICC investment treaty claim brought over a contract to build schools in Libya in the 1970s.The arbitral tribunal has ordered the state to pay roughly US$450 million following Libya’s failure to comply with a partial award in line with a settlement agreement reached in 2016, which built on an earlier settlement from 2003 that was never paid. Despite the successful award, claimants may face potential difficulties recovering the sums awarded, owing to the fact that Libya has yet to sign the 1958 New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards.
Nigeria wins second arbitration claim brought by Statoil
A recent arbitral award rejected Norway’s Statoil second arbitration against partners including, Chevron and Petrobras, in a US$1.1 billion dispute over the redetermination of shares in Nigeria’s largest deepwater oilfield. The tribunal rejected Statoil´s request to set aside a 2015 expert determination in favour of Nigerian subsidiaries of Chevron and Petrobras and local partner Famfa Oil. The expert had determined that Statoil’s share in the Agbami oilfield should be reduced from 20.21% to 15.04%. How Statoil’s shares will be reallocated has yet to be decided on by the various internal mechanisms established under the unit agreement.
Saudi Arabia hit by ICSID claim
German construction company Hochtief Infrastructure has filed a claim against Saudi Arabia believed to relate to the expansion of King Khaled International Airport in Riyadh. The claim has been brought under the 1966 Germany-Saudi Arabia bilateral investment treaty and was registered by ICSID on 3 May. The project was due to be completed in May 2019 and was the first step of a €4 billion programme by the Saudi General Authority of Civil Aviation to develop and expand the airport’s facilities to accommodate more than 18 million people annually.
Togo faces port terminal operator ICSID claim
ICSID recently reported the registration of a new claim brought against Togo was by Togo Terminal, a subsidiary of France’s Bolloré Africa Logistics which operates a port in Lomé. The Terminal won a 35-year contract to operate the Lomé port in 2009 when Progosa, a Franco-Spanish group based in Seville that had performed the role for eight years, was fired by the Togolese authorities. The case involves the alleged bribery of foreign public officials and arises out of investigations conducted by local judges looking into whether Bolloré Group used the political activities of subsidiaries to win management contracts for the Lomé port and that of Conakry in Guinea.
United Arab Emirates issues its new arbitration law based on the UNCITRAL Model Law
United Arab Emirates (UAE) issued its long-awaited self-standing arbitration law (federal law No. 6 of 2018) on 13 May 2018, which is based on the UNCITRAL Model Law. The new law repeals and replaces the previous UAE arbitration law, contained within a chapter of the UAE Civil Procedures Law No. 11 of 1992. The new law will enter into effect one month following its publication in the UAE’s Official Gazette and will apply to all ongoing arbitrations at the time it comes into effect, including both domestic and international proceedings. Overall, it comprises 61 articles, which provide, amongst others, for the principles of separability and competence-competence; power for arbitral tribunals and courts to order interim and conservatory measures; confirmation that electronic writings satisfy the requirement that the arbitration clause be in writing; rules ensuring the enforceability of interim and partial awards; and the requirement that requests for annulment must be initiated within 30 days of notification of the award to the parties, with clarification that they do not automatically stay enforcement proceedings.