Aix en Provence Court of Appeal, 31 May 2018, IREM France v. Total Raffinage France and Tecnicas Reunidas, no. 17/23118, no. 17/23115 and no. 17/23114

Total Raffinage contracted with Tecnicas Reunidas regarding the engineering, construction and commissioning of a refinery. The construction contract provided for an ICC arbitration seated in Paris. Tecnicas Reunidas entered into a sub-contract with IREM, containing an ICC arbitration clause but with a seat in Madrid. In turn, IREM subcontracted some work to Montis.

Montis commenced proceedings against IREM in order to obtain payment before Commercial Court of Salon de Provence. IREM requested the joinder of Total Raffinage and Tecnicas. The court refused its jurisdiction over Total Raffinage and Tecnicas in favour of the arbitral tribunal constituted under the arbitration clauses inserted in the first two contracts in the chain. IREM appealed.

The Court confirms the lower court’s judgment by holding that the arbitration clauses in the first two contracts are not manifestly null or inapplicable. It follows that, in principle, the dispute between IREM on one hand, and Total Raffinage and Tecnicas, on the other, was wrongly brought before the Commercial Court, since it falls within the exclusive jurisdiction of the arbitral tribunal.

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