Shijiazhuang Intermediate People’s Court declares arbitration agreement providing for ICC Rules arbitration seated in China invalid.

By Ing Loong Yang, Oliver Browne, and Isuru Devendra

In a dispute between Hebei Zhongxing Automobile Manufacturing Co., Ltd. (HZAM), a Chinese company, and Automotive Gate FZCO (FZCO), a UAE company, the Shijiazhuang Intermediate People’s Court declared invalid two related arbitration agreements that provided for arbitration in accordance with the Arbitration Rules of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and to be held “in China”.

The decision confirms that UNCITRAL Rules do not impose a higher procedural fairness burden than the Arbitration Act and that the foreign act of state doctrine applies in arbitrations.

By Oliver E. Browne

The Commercial Court considered various challenges to an arbitral award under the Arbitration Act 1996 (the Act) in Reliance Industries Ltd and another v Union of India [2018] EWHC 822 (Comm). Practitioners will welcome the Court’s important decisions on a technical difference between the UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules 1976 (the Rules) and the Act, and on the applicability of the foreign act of state doctrine in arbitration proceedings in England.

Introduction

The claimants entered into two production sharing contracts with the Indian government for the exclusive right to exploit a number of petroleum resources. These contracts provided for disputes to be referred to arbitration under the Rules, with London as the seat of arbitration.