Recognition and enforcement of arbitral awards in France

Recognition and enforcement of arbitral awards in France


1. Definition

2. Available prior seizure procedures

3. Competent court and procedure

4. The documents to be provided to the court

5. The light control of the Court

6. The notion of international public order

7.  The appeal from order and the stay of enforcement


1. Definition

Exequatur is the procedure by which the French state judicial authority gives force to an act. In the case of an arbitral award, the judge thus authorizes the use of duress against the sentenced party.

The creditor may thus have recourse to all enforcement measures with a view to recovering the sums due to him.

In France, the recognition and enforcement of an arbitration award in international arbitration is governed by articles 1514 to 1517 of the Code of Civil Procedure.

Exequatur may also be sought for other reasons, e.g. to benefit from the res judicata effect.


2. Available prior seizure procedures

Some seizure procedures are available before the exequatur.

LMH Law Firm effectively assists you in these procedures, by surrounding yourself with diligent sworn judicial officers and experts and by ensuring the defense of your interests before the enforcement judge in the event of a challenge by the opposing party.


3. Competent court and procedure

It is the Judicial Court of PARIS (ex Tribunal de Grande Instance) which has jurisdiction.

The procedure is non-adversarial, i.e. the opposing party is not involved.

The most diligent party requests the affixing of the enforceable formula on the award, most often, in order to practice seizures with a view to the recovery of a debt.


4. The documents to be provided to the court

  • the arbitration award (original or copy guaranteeing its authenticity)
  • the arbitration agreement (in practice a copy of the arbitration clause)
  • the certified translation of the documents if they are not written in French
  • and other documents depending on the case.


5. The light control of the Court

As with the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments, the control of the state judge has become more flexible over time and international commitments. 

France, a signatory to the New York Convention of June 10, 1958 for the recognition and enforcement of foreign arbitral awards, ratified this convention on June 26, 1959.

Its purpose is in particular to facilitate the recognition and enforcement of foreign arbitral awards in the Contracting States.

Thus, the judge performs a light review. He must ensure that the existence of the arbitral award is established and that it is not manifestly contrary to international public order.


6. The notion of international public order

International public order ("OPI") is different from French internal public order and also different from the notion of police laws. The function of the OPI exception is to prevent a foreign legal act which effects might be in contradiction with French fundamental values, ​​from being recognized and applied in France. In its annual report for 2013, the French Cour de Cassation exposed some illustrations. In the economic field, it is for example the principle of proportionality of the financial penalty.


7.  The appeal from order and the stay of enforcement

Whatever the outcome of the procedure (total, partial exequatur or refusal), the decision of the Court may be appealed. The appeal against this order will be limited to the opening cases listed by article 1520 of the Code of Civil Procedure, i.e.:

1 ° The arbitral tribunal wrongly declared itself competent or incompetent; or

2 ° The arbitral tribunal was irregularly constituted; or

3 ° The arbitral tribunal ruled without complying with its mission; or

4 ° The principle of contradiction has not been respected; or

5 ° Recognition or enforcement of the award is contrary to international public policy.

In addition, the First President of the Paris Court of Appeal may be seized with a request for a stay of execution.


Leïla Martin Hamidi, Attorney at Law

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