The Power of Arbitral Tribunals to Raise Public Policy Rules Ex Officio: The Case of EU Competition Law

Please click here if you want to access this new paper of mine.

Whether arbitral tribunals should be allowed to adjudicate disputes on the basis of legal grounds different from those submitted by the parties is a question that is subject to considerable debate in the international arbitration community. On the one hand, arbitration is a creature of contract and arbitral tribunals should be careful not to exceed the mandate that has been extended to them by the parties. On the other hand, there may be circumstances where the ignorance of certain legal regimes may be fatal to the validity and enforceability of the award, and where the tribunal may thus well be advised to raise the applicability of such regimes even if the parties failed to do so. In order to illustrate the type of circumstances in which arbitral tribunals may be well advised to raise legal grounds on an ex officio basis in order to ensure the validity and enforceability of the award, I refer to contractual disputes where the agreement under scrutiny, which one of the parties is seeking to enforce, may breach EU competition law, which according to the Eco-Swiss judgment of the CJEU belongs to public policy. This paper argues that whether arbitral tribunals should raise EU competition rules on their own motion largely depends on the circumstances of each case and arbitral tribunals should be guided by pragmatism rather than theoretical considerations.

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