Sanctions in the wake of the Panama Papers: Diplomacy with teeth?

As the repercussions of the Panama Papers – the unprecedented leak of files from the database of the world’s fourth biggest offshore law firm, Mossack Fonseca – continue to unfold, the week closed with the announcement by Angel Gurria, Secretary General of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) that Panama agreed to adopt global tax reporting standards.  This came about after the EU made it public that it was considering imposing sanctions on Panama over the Panama papers.

Has the imposition of sanctions become a sort of diplomacy with teeth?   The following is a snapshot on sanctions in the wake of the Panama Papers.

The Panama Papers raise interesting issues of public international law and its interaction with national legal systems across jurisdictions. At a jurisdictional level (understood in its public international law concept) we see: (i) acts taking place in one jurisdiction (Panama), breaching international law (sanctions under the European Union and UN) having implications in other jurisdictions (UK, and the entire world); (ii) such countries, asserting their jurisdictions in their own right, when investigations/inquests are opened, parallel to the one taking place in Panama; and (iii) on the other side of the coin, we see, various international fora (UN, EU) enlarging, adopting, sanctions with applicability in the entire world; such public measures affecting private matters (contracts, trade).

This last point brings us to a second type of interaction which operates at the substantive level: public international law resolutions affecting obligations and rights in the private sphere otherwise governed solely by private law (e.g. commercial law); such measures therefore becoming relevant for those practising private, commercial law.

More interestingly, at the level of remedies, the remedy on the part of companies and individuals listed, to be de-listed, is before an international court (European Court of Justice) which can also be parallel to going to local courts, seeking to challenge such international public law measures. Continue reading

Foreign state immunity and the enforcement of international arbitration awards: Gold Reserve v Venezuela

Monica Feria-Tinta examines State immunity issues in the recent High Court decision Gold Reserve Inc v Venezuela [2016] EWHC 153 (Comm) concerning the enforcement of an ICSID award of US$713 million (plus interests and costs) against a Sovereign State, by reference to the wider context of State immunity principles under international law, as reflected in the State Immunity Act 1978.

The case brought to centre-stage important procedural questions tied to issues of State immunity concerning the recognition and enforcement of awards against foreign States under English law.

Continue reading: see Monica’s full case note.