This Country Answer reflects the state of the law as of 31 December 2012. Please refer to the explanations in the chapter entitled Preliminary Note.

A. The Contracting State and the New York Convention

1. Name of Contracting State (also specify jurisdiction(s), if relevant)

France.

2. Date of entry into force of the New York Convention

24 September 1959.

(Source: Decree No. 59-1039 of 1 Sept. 1959 published on 6 Sept. 1959.)

3. Has any reservation been made under Art. I(3) of the New York Convention regarding:

(a) reciprocity?

France made a reciprocity reservation under the New York Convention. However, French legal provisions on recognition and enforcement of foreign awards apply to awards rendered abroad, whether or not they are rendered in a Contracting State.

(Source: Decree No. 59-1039 of 1 Sept. 1959 published on 6 Sept. 1959.)

(b) commercial relationships?

France made a reservation for commercial relationships at the time of signing the New York Convention but subsequently withdrew this reservation on 27 Nov. 1989.

(Source: Decree No. 90-170 of 17 Nov. 1989.)

4. In addition to arbitral awards made in the territory of another State, the New York Convention (Art. I(1)) also applies to arbitral awards not considered as domestic awards in the State where recognition and enforcement are sought. Are there any awards rendered in your country that are not considered as domestic awards such that the New York Convention and the answers to this Questionnaire are applicable to them?

Awards rendered in France that involve the interests of international trade ('international awards rendered in France') are not considered as domestic awards under French law. Unless otherwise indicated, the answers to this Questionnaire apply to both awards rendered outside France and international awards rendered in France. In the answers to this Questionnaire, the expression 'international awards' refers to both awards rendered outside France (foreign awards) and international awards rendered in France.

B. National sources of law

5. What specific sources of law are applicable to recognition and enforcement of foreign awards (e.g. statutes, regulations, codes, directives, other legal instruments)?

(i) Arts. 1476 to 1479 and Arts. 1492 to 1507 of the French Code of Civil Procedure (Code de procédure civile, hereinafter 'CPC') enacted by Decree No. 81-500 of 12 May 1981;

(ii) Arts. 1514 to 1527 CPC enacted by Decree No. 2011-48 of 13 Jan. 2011 modifying the provisions mentioned in (i) above, and generally applicable as from 1 May 2011;

(iii) Statute No. 91-650 of 9 July 1991 on Civil Procedure for Execution; and

(iv) judge-made law.

French legal provisions on recognition and enforcement of foreign awards are more favourable than those of the New York Convention.

C. Limitation periods (time limits)

6.

(a) Is there a limitation period (time limit) applicable to the commencement of legal proceedings for recognition and enforcement of foreign awards?

French arbitration law does not expressly provide for a limitation period applying to the commencement of legal proceedings for recognition and enforcement of awards. However, the French Civil Code provides for a 5-year limitation period which generally applies to personal actions (other than actions for the recognition and enforcement of real property rights). Such limitation period should be considered as applicable to the filing of legal proceedings for recognition and enforcement in France of domestic awards. Arguably, such limitation period may be found to apply to the recognition and enforcement of international awards (i.e. international awards and awards rendered in France in matters of international arbitration) in France. However, there is no specific case law on this issue.

(Source: Civil Code, Art. 2224, as modified by law 2008-561 of 17 June 2008.)

(b) If yes, what is the applicable limitation period (time limit) and when does it start running?

To the extent that the general limitation period mentioned above would be found to apply to international awards and according to the transitional provisions of law 2008-561 (mentioned in Q.6(a) above), for awards rendered:

(i) before 17 June 1983, a 30-year statute of limitation should apply, with the starting point being the date of notification of the award to the parties,

(ii) between 17 June 1983 and 17 June 2008, a 5-year statute of limitation should apply, with the starting point being on 17 June 2008, and

(iii) after 17 June 2008, the 5-year statute of limitation starting point should be the date of notification of the award to the parties.

Again, there is no specific French case law on this issue.

(Source: Civil Code, Art. 2224, as modified by law 2008-561 of 17 June 2008.)

D. National courts and court proceedings

7. What authority or court has jurisdiction over recognition and enforcement of foreign awards?

The authority with jurisdiction over recognition and enforcement of international awards is the Tribunal de grande instance* at:

(i) the place where the award was made, for international awards rendered in France, or

(ii) Paris, for foreign awards.

(Source: CPC, Art. 1516, applicable as from 1 May 2011.)

* A decision by a court of appeal dismissing legal proceedings to set aside an international award rendered in France amounts to recognition and enforcement of that award. Consequently, the relevant authority will, in such a case, be the first president or the judge in charge of the procedure of the court of appeal (conseiller de la mise en état) with jurisdiction at the place where the award was rendered if (i) the award is an international award rendered in France and (ii) the Tribunal de grande instance did not issue a decision granting enforcement of the award at the time the legal proceedings to set aside the award were filed.

(Source: CPC, Arts. 1521 and 1527, para. 2, applicable as from 1 May 2011.)

8. What requirements, if any, must be met for the authority or court to accept jurisdiction over recognition and enforcement of foreign awards (e.g. domicile or assets of respondent in the jurisdiction, etc.)?

A legitimate interest is required. This requirement is construed very broadly.

9. Is the first decision granting or denying recognition and enforcement obtained through ex parte or inter partes proceedings?

The first decision granting recognition and enforcement is obtained through ex parte proceedings.

(Source: CPC, Art. 1516, para. 2, applicable as from 1 May 2011.)

10.

(a) Is the first decision granting or denying recognition and enforcement subject to any form of appeal or recourse?

Yes.

For foreign awards, the first decision granting or denying recognition and enforcement may be appealed.

(Source: CPC, Art. 1525, applicable as from 1 May 2011.)

For international awards rendered in France, the decision denying recognition and enforcement may be appealed, whereas the decision granting recognition and enforcement may not be appealed. However, in the latter case, the parties may request the setting aside of the award before the competent court of appeal. Moreover, in arbitrations where the arbitral tribunal was constituted after 1 May 2011, the parties may waive their right to request the setting aside of the award. In such a case, the decision granting recognition and enforcement may be appealed.

(Source: CPC, Arts. 1522, 1523 and 1524, applicable as from 1 May 2011.)

(b) How many levels of appeal or recourse are available against this decision?

Two, as a general rule. At the first level, the appeal, if available, may be filed before the court of appeal that has jurisdiction over the court which rendered the decision at issue. At the second level, a legal proceeding to annul a decision of the court of appeal may be filed before the French Supreme Court (Cour de cassation). The Cour de cassation's review is limited to legal grounds as opposed to factual grounds. If the Cour de cassation annuls a decision of the court of appeal, it may refer the matter back to another court of appeal.

(Sources: CPC, Arts. 1520 et seq.; principles of French procedure contained therein.)

11. What is the earliest stage in legal proceedings for enforcement of foreign arbitral awards at which a party can obtain execution against assets (i.e. party actually obtains possession of assets as opposed to simply freezing assets)?

For awards rendered before 1 May 2011: as a general rule, execution against assets in France (i) may be obtained after expiry of either the time limit* for filing an appeal against the first ex parte decision granting enforcement of a foreign award (exequatur), or the time limit* for filing legal proceedings to set aside an international award rendered in France, and (ii) is suspended as from the filing of any such recourse.

* This time limit expires one month after official notification to the other party of the decision granting enforcement (exequatur) and is extended to 3 months if the other party resides outside France.

(Sources: CPC, Art. 1506 as set out in Decree No. 81-500 of 12 May 1981; other general provisions therein.)

For awards rendered before 1 May 2011, it is possible to obtain provisional execution against assets (exécution provisoire) in France if either (i) the award contains an order for provisional execution or (ii) a French judge grants an order for provisional execution. In such circumstances, execution against assets may be obtained immediately upon official notification to the other party of the decision granting enforcement (exequatur) or the judge's order for provisional execution.

In any event, the judge may suspend the provisional execution of an award in France if such execution could have 'clearly excessive consequences'.

(Sources: CPC, Arts. 1500 and 1479 as set out in Decree No. 81-500 of 12 May 1981; CPC Art. 524.)

For awards rendered after 1 May 2011: execution against assets in France may be obtained immediately once the decision granting enforcement (exequatur) has been notified by bailiff to the other party. Such execution is affected neither by an appeal against the enforcement order nor by an action to set aside the award. However, the first president of the court of appeal acting in expedited proceedings (référé) or the judge in charge of the procedure before the court of appeal (conseiller de la mise en état) may stay the execution or set conditions for execution of the award if such execution would seriously harm the rights of one of the parties.

(Source: CPC, Arts. 1525 and 1526, applicable as from 1 May 2011.)

E. Evidence required

12.

(a) What evidence must be supplied for recognition and enforcement of foreign awards (e.g. arbitral award, contract containing arbitration clause, affidavits, witness statements, etc.)?

The following evidence must be supplied: (i) the arbitral award and (ii) the arbitration agreement.

(Source: CPC, Art. 1515, para. 1, applicable as from 1 May 2011.)

(b) Is it necessary to provide the entire document or only certain parts (e.g. entire contract or only arbitration clause)?

It is necessary to supply (i) the award in its entirety and (ii) the relevant pages of the document containing the arbitration clause.

(c) Are originals or duly certified copies required?

Either the original of the award and arbitration agreement, or copies thereof that satisfy the conditions required to ascertain their authenticity, may be supplied.

(Source: CPC, Art. 1515, para. 1, applicable as from 1 May 2011.)

(d) How many originals or duly certified copies are required?

The following are required: (i) one original or certified copy of the award and (ii) one original or certified copy of the arbitration clause.

(Source: CPC, Art. 1515, para. 1, applicable as from 1 May 2011.)

(e) Does the authority or court keep the originals that are filed?

In Paris, the Tribunal de grande instance keeps the original award, unless a written and reasoned request for return of the original is submitted to the judge.

13.

(a) Is it necessary to provide a translation of the documents supplied?

Yes.

(Source: CPC, Art. 1515, para. 2, applicable as from 1 May 2011.)

(b) If yes, into what language?

French.

(Source: CPC, Art. 1515, para. 2, applicable as from 1 May 2011.)

(c) Is it necessary for the translations to be certified and, if yes, by whom (official or sworn translator, diplomatic or consular agent (of which country?) or some other person)?

No, the translation does not need to be certified. However, the applicant may be requested (by the judge) to provide a translation by a translator whose name appears on a list of court experts or a translator accredited by the administrative or judicial authorities of another Member State of the European Union, a Contracting Party to the European Economic Area Agreement or the Swiss Confederation.

(Source: CPC, Art. 1515, para. 2, applicable as from 1 May 2011.)

(d) Is it necessary to provide a full translation of the documents or only a translation of certain parts (e.g. entire award or only part setting forth the decisions; entire contract or only arbitration clause)?

It is necessary to provide a full translation of the award and the arbitration clause. There is no need to provide a translation of the entire contract containing the arbitration clause.

F. Stay of enforcement

14.

(a) Can the authority or court stay legal proceedings for recognition and enforcement pending the outcome of an application to set aside or suspend the foreign award before the competent authority referred to in Art. V(1)(e) of the New York Convention?

An application made at the place of arbitration to set aside or suspend the effectiveness of an award rendered outside France does not provide grounds to stay or refuse recognition and enforcement of that award in France.

(Source: Paris 1re Ch. C., 10 June 2004, Bargues Agro Industries v. Young Pecan Company, Rev. arb. 2006.154.)

(b) On what other grounds, if any, can the authority or court stay legal proceedings for recognition and enforcement (e.g. forum non conveniens)?

There are no other grounds under French international arbitration law to stay legal proceedings for recognition and enforcement. Pursuant to French insolvency law: (i) legal proceedings for recognition and enforcement against an insolvent debtor located in France may be stayed for the duration of the insolvency proceedings, and (ii) recovery of the amount awarded may be compromised under a restructuring plan applicable in France.

(c) Is the granting of a stay of legal proceedings for recognition and enforcement conditional on the provision of security?

N/A.

G. Confidentiality

15.

(a) Do the documents filed in legal proceedings for recognition and enforcement form part of the public record? If yes, can any steps be taken to preserve the confidentiality of such documents?

The arbitral award and the arbitration clause filed with the authority having jurisdiction over recognition and enforcement of the award do not form part of the public record. In legal proceedings to set aside an international award rendered in France or an appeal against the first ex parte decision granting recognition or enforcement of an award, the parties' written pleadings form part of the public record. The French courts do not have a duty to preserve the confidentiality of these pleadings once they have been filed. It should be noted that no pleadings are filed in the first ex parte proceedings for recognition or enforcement.

(b) If there are hearings on recognition and enforcement, are such hearings confidential? If not, can steps be taken to maintain the confidentiality of the legal proceedings?

There are no hearings in the first ex parte proceedings for recognition or enforcement of an award. Hearings held in the following inter partes proceedings are generally public: (i) appeals against decisions granting enforcement of a foreign award (exequatur), and (ii) proceedings to set aside an international award rendered in France. However, if all parties agree, the judge may decide that such hearings shall be confidential.

(Source: CPC, Arts. 22, 433 and 435.)

(c) Are judgments on recognition and enforcement published? If yes, can steps be taken to remove the names of the parties or avoid publication of confidential information (such as business or State secrets)?

Recognition and enforcement decisions are generally made by stamping the exequatur on the award, on the copy of the award or on the translation of the award if it was not drafted in the French language. There is therefore no judgment as such and the exequatur is not published.

(Source: CPC, Art. 1517, applicable as from 1 May 2011.)

Judgments in the following proceedings are part of the public record: (i) appeals against decisions granting enforcement of a foreign award (exequatur) and (ii) proceedings to set aside an international award rendered in France. Steps may be taken to remove the names of individuals, but only in circumstances that rarely apply in international arbitral proceedings.

H. Other issues

16. When, if ever, can a party obtain recognition and enforcement of interim or partial foreign awards?

It is always possible to obtain recognition and enforcement in France of interim or partial awards.

17. When, if ever, can a party obtain recognition and enforcement of non-monetary relief in foreign arbitral awards (e.g. order requiring a party to deliver up share certificates or other property)?

As a general rule, it is possible to obtain recognition and enforcement in France of foreign awards granting non-monetary relief.

18. When, if ever, can a party obtain recognition and enforcement of only part of the relief granted in foreign awards?

In principle, the judge may only grant or deny recognition and enforcement of an award as a whole. It is doubtful that a party could obtain recognition and enforcement of only part of the relief granted in a foreign award. However, by way of an appeal against a decision on enforcement, it is possible to obtain partial enforcement of an international award if part of the award is found to (i) exceed the jurisdiction of the arbitral tribunal or (ii) violate French international public policy, provided that this part of the award is separable from the rest of the award. Moreover, since international awards rendered in France may be partially set aside by the French courts, it is possible to obtain partial enforcement of such awards.

19. When, if ever, can a party obtain recognition and enforcement of foreign awards which have been set aside by the competent authority referred to in Art. V(1)(e) of the New York Convention?

An award rendered outside France that is set aside at the place of arbitration may still be recognized and enforced in France.

(Sources: see e.g. Cass. 1re civ., 9 Oct. 1984, Pabalk Tikaret Sirketi v. Norsolor, Rev. arb. 1985.431; Hilmarton v. OTV, Cass. 1re civ., 23 Mar. 1994, Rev. arb. 1994.327; Cass. 1re civ., 29 June 2007, PT Putrabali Adyamulia v. Rena Holding et al., Rev. arb. 2007.646.)

20. Are there any other procedural or practical requirements relating to recognition and enforcement of foreign awards which are worth mentioning (e.g. unusually high court costs, filing fees, stamp duties, obligation to post security as a condition for seeking recognition and enforcement, obligation to identify the assets that will be the object of enforcement, etc.)?

There are no registration duties or taxes to be paid in relation to recognition and/or enforcement of foreign awards in France. However, if an award results in a transfer of rights in France that is subject to specific transfer taxes, such taxes may become due to the French tax authorities.

Country Rapporteur:

Denis Bensaude