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Micula and Others v Romania   ∙ [2017] EWHC 31 (Comm) ∙ Annotation by Kai Struckmann, Genevra Forwood, Aqeel Kadri and Adam Wallin

Annotation on the Judgment of the High Court of England and Wales of 20 January 2017 in Micula and Others v Romania [2017] EWHC 31 (Comm)

DOI https://doi.org/10.21552/estal/2017/2/19

Kai Struckmann, Genevra Forwood, Aqeel Kadri, Adam Wallin


While the General Court considers the validity of the European Commission’s decision in the Micula case finding that “the payment of the compensation awarded by” an ICSID arbitral tribunal constitutes incompatible State aid, national courts in the EU (and the US) are also wrestling with different, but related, issues in proceedings to enforce the underlying arbitral award. The key question in these proceedings is whether the Commission Decision stands in the way of enforcement in a (Member) State which is not the addressee of the decision. In the judgment discussed here, the High Court found that the arbitral award constituted res judicata and that it had not been satisfied. However, the High Court also considered that it could not decide a number of issues (including the interpretation of the CJEU’s jurisprudence in Kapferer, the application of Article 351 TFEU and the concept of imputability) without risking a conflict with questions currently pending before the General Court. Consequently the High Court decided to stay the enforcement proceedings, pending the outcome of annulment action before the General Court. The High Court reached few firm conclusions. Underlying this case is the tension between international obligations owed under the multilateral ICSID Convention and the EU Treaties, and which take precedence. One of the most striking features of the High Court judgment is its acceptance of the contentions of Romania and the Commission that essentially any substantive finding of EU law would give rise to a significant risk of conflict with ongoing proceedings in the EU Courts to annul the Final Decision.
Keywords: State Aid and Arbitration; Article 351 TFEU; Res Judicata; Article 4 TEU – Duty of Sincere Cooperation.

The authors practice law with White & Case LLP in Brussels and/or in London. They represented 4 of the 5 Claimants in these proceedings but the views expressed are the authors’ own. DOI: 10.21552/estal/2017/2/19

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