State immunity and arbitration in France
Produced in partnership with Xavier Nyssen, partner, and Emile Hu, associate, international arbitration, Dechert LLP

The following Arbitration practice note produced in partnership with Xavier Nyssen, partner, and Emile Hu, associate, international arbitration, Dechert LLP provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • State immunity and arbitration in France
  • The notion of state immunity in France: general principles
  • Waivers of state immunity: the evolving case law of the Cour de Cassation and its impact on arbitration
  • Immunity from jurisdiction
  • Immunity from execution
  • The evolution of French case law with respect to state immunity from execution
  • The regime of state immunity from execution

State immunity and arbitration in France

This Practice Note considers the role of state immunity in relation to arbitration proceedings in France. For a general introduction to state immunity and arbitration, see Practice Note: State immunity and arbitration—general considerations. In addition, for Practice Notes on state immunity in a number of jurisdictions around the world (including England and Wales)), see our State immunity subtopic: State immunity—overview.

State immunity is based on the principle of equality between states and mutual recognition of their sovereignty. Originally based in international custom and courtesy, state immunity now reflects more than simple courtesy and constitutes a principle of international law. In France, sovereign states benefit from immunity of jurisdiction and from immunity against enforcement of judicial decisions and arbitral awards (immunity from execution). State immunity, however, is not absolute, and can thus be waived under specific circumstances.

The 'Sapin 2' law dated 9 December 2016 sets out the conditions for state immunity from execution, and makes significant changes to the conduct of enforcement proceedings resulting from an award or a judicial decision against a foreign state. Prior to 2016, France had not enacted legislation to govern issues related to state immunity. Consequently, case law was the main source of such rules and it remains the main source of the rules concerning state immunity of jurisdiction, which is not dealt with by the 'Sapin

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