- France—a honeymoon to remember—award set aside over corruption allegations (Gabon and City of Libreville v Webcor and GML)
- What are the practical implications of this case?
- What was the background?
- A market construction project suspended by the Gabonese authorities
- Proofs of corruption discovered after the award has been rendered
- What did the court decide?
- Case details
Arbitration analysis: The Paris Court of Appeals set aside an arbitral award that had granted the Maltese construction company Webcor ITP (Webcor) and its Gabonese subsidiary Grand Marché de Libreville (GML), more than $US 100m in damages on the ground of the violation of international public policy as it held, based on the evidence discovered only after the award has been rendered, that the underlying contracts were obtained through corruption. The court found that while negotiating the contracts, a former mayor of Libreville was offered a luxurious honeymoon by the construction companies, which together with the accompanying circumstances led it to consider that there were ‘serious, precise and consistent indications’ of corruption. With this decision, the court confirmed that an award giving effect to corrupt practices cannot be granted recognition and/or enforcement in France as it violates international public order. The court also reminded that a mere violation of a mandatory provision of foreign law cannot per se justify annulment of an award in France. Written by Marie Danis, partner, and Karol Bucki, associate, at August Debouzy.
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