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Breach of International Public Policy: Issues of Foreign Overriding Mandatory Rules and Embargoes

By Flore Poloni & Thibaud Roujou de Boubée

Partner Flore Poloni and Associate Thibaud Roujou de Boubée examine breach of international public policy, discussing violations of foreign overriding mandatory rules and to what extent compliance with an embargo forms part of French international public policy in the ICC Dispute Resolution Bulletin.

A link to the ICC Dispute Resolution Bulletin can be found here.

On 13 April 2021, the Paris Court of Appeal refined its developing case law on breach of public policy. It recalled that violations of foreign overriding mandatory rules amount to a breach of international public policy when ‘values and principles’ protected by such rules are also protected by French public policy. It also identified to which extent compliance with an embargo forms part of French international public policy.

1. Factual background

Two contracts for the supply of equipment and services relating to the protection of the Republic of Guinea’s presidential residences and intelligence services (the ‘Contracts’) were signed on 11 January 2011 by Belgian company AD Trade and the Ministry of National Defense of Guinea. Following the unilateral termination of the Contracts and non-payment of invoices by Guinea, AD Trade initiated arbitration proceedings on 8 October 2015 under the ICC Arbitration Rules. In an award rendered on 22 November 2017, the arbitral tribunal granted AD Trade’s claim and on 17 May 2018.

In its annulment request before the Paris Court of Appeal, Guinea alleged a breach of local procurement legislation – considered as overriding mandatory rules – and a breach of European Union (‘EU’) embargo on the sale of arms to Guinea. This case gave the Paris Court of Appeal an opportunity to confirm the scope of French international public policy when it comes to foreign overriding mandatory rules and EU embargoes.

Read the full article in the ICC Dispute Resolution Bulletin, here.

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