Recent D.C. District Court Decision on Public Policy Exception Declining Recognition of Foreign Arbitration Awards

George Benaur, Benaur Law LLC

New York, October 5, 2018 — a recent decision of the District Court for the District of Columbia (annexed here) is important in understanding the limits of the jurisdiction of U.S. courts in enforcing the foreign arbitration awards involving foreign sovereigns and private enterprise. Here, the Court declined to recognize the arbitration award involving a dispute over hydrocarbon exploration rights between the Government of India and a private company. The Court declined to exercise jurisdiction based mainly on “public policy” grounds, finding that doing so would violate India’s sovereignty to determine exploration rights within its own borders. The Court explained that our country has “a strong policy interest in respecting the rights of other nations to control the extraction and processing of natural resources within their own sovereign territories.”

This decision is important to keep in mind as it may impact similar types of cases that are currently pending in other parts of the world, including in Ukraine and Russia. We are continuing to track developments in foreign jurisdictions with regard to enforcement of arbitration awards and the interplay between different types of international laws that may impact this emerging area of law and welcome any submissions on these matters.


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