Global law firm White & Case LLP has secured a significant victory for Ioan Micula and the companies in which he has invested with the US District Court for the District of Columbia, confirming a 2013 ICSID award rendered in favor of Mr. Micula and his companies, and indicating that it will be entering a judgment for US$331 million plus additional interest accrued since November 2018.
The award, which resulted from a claim under the Sweden-Romania bilateral investment treaty (BIT), arose out of the repeal by Romania of investment incentives that the Micula brothers had relied on when making substantial investments in western Romania in the early 2000s.
In 2013, an ICSID tribunal rendered the award in favor of Mr. Micula, his brother and co-investor, and three companies they had invested in. The arbitral claimants have to date been unable to enforce the award, despite pursuing enforcement actions in the United States, the UK, Belgium and Sweden, because of a 2015 European Commission decision holding that EU State aid rules prohibited payment of the award. In June 2019, the Micula brothers prevailed in the European Union's General Court, which annulled the EC's decision in full, and clarified that the European Court of Justice's Achmea judgment, regarding the incompatibility of arbitration clauses in intra-EU BITs, does not apply in this pre-accession context.
In rendering judgment in favor of Mr. Micula and his companies, US District Judge Amit P. Mehta found that Achmea did not invalidate the arbitration agreement contained in the Sweden-Romania BIT. Judge Mehta held that the present case was materially distinguishable from Achmea, given that all the events giving rise to the dispute occurred before Romania acceded to the EU. Judge Mehta found that Achmea presented no barrier to the DC District Court's subject matter jurisdiction under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act's arbitration exception.
Ioan Micula and his companies were represented in the US District Court for the District of Columbia by partner Francis Vasquez, Jr. (Washington, DC) and associates Jacqueline Chung and Laura Grai (both in New York).
The White & Case team representing Ioan Micula and his companies before the EU courts, in pending enforcement actions in the UK and Belgium includes partners Genevra Forwood, Kai Struckmann and Nathalie Colin (all in Brussels) and David Goldberg (London), counsel Nicholas Forwood QC (Brussels), and associates Aqeel Kadri (London) and Alexandre Hublet (Brussels).
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