D.C. Circuit Issues Favorable Decision to Tatneft in Suit to Confirm $112 Million Arbitral Award

May 28, 2019

Cleary Gottlieb successfully represented Tatneft in obtaining an important victory in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit (D.C. Circuit) in the company’s action to confirm an arbitral award rendered in its favor against Ukraine.

On May 28, 2019, the D.C. Circuit affirmed the district court’s decision denying Ukraine’s motion to dismiss Tatneft’s petition to confirm the $112 million arbitral award (now more than $150 million with interest). The district court had found that Ukraine was not entitled to sovereign immunity under two exceptions to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA), the arbitration and implied waiver exceptions. In a per curiam decision, the D.C. Circuit held that Ukraine had impliedly waived its sovereign immunity by signing and agreeing to arbitrate under the New York Convention, which expressly contemplates suits being brought against the sovereign in other signatory states to enforce arbitral awards falling under the convention. The court, therefore, declined to consider Ukraine’s argument that the arbitration exception did not apply and remanded the case for further proceedings in the district court, including consideration of defenses to enforcement of the award raised by Ukraine under the New York Convention.

This victory marks another successful step in Tatneft’s longstanding effort to enforce the award rendered in its favor in 2014. Cleary, which represented Tatneft in the successful underlying arbitration, continues to represent Tatneft in pursuing coordinated enforcement actions in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Russia. The firm also defeated an attempt to annul the award by Ukraine in France, the seat of the arbitration.