The Republic of Congo Wins Important Ruling Under the Supremacy Clause

January 8, 2013

Cleary Gottlieb won a victory for the Republic of Congo in the District Court for the District of Columbia on January 8, 2013 when Chief Judge Royce C. Lamberth dismissed with prejudice plaintiff Commissions Import Export S.A.’s (“Commisimpex”) complaint, which sought to recognize a 2009 English court judgment confirming in the United Kingdom an arbitral award rendered in 2000 by the International Chamber of Commerce in Paris against the Congo for over $200 million. The court agreed that Commisimpex was attempting to evade the 3 year limitations period in the Federal Arbitration Act for confirming an international arbitral award in the United States by the “maneuver” of seeking recognition of the English judgment under the District of Columbia’s Uniform Foreign-Country Money Judgments Recognition Act. Chief Judge Lamberth found this “an attempt to circumvent the procedures Congress established for the confirmation of New York Convention awards in the FAA” and for that reason it was preempted under the Supreme Court’s 2012 decision in Arizona v. US. This is, as the court noted, an issue of first impression in the D.C. Circuit.