Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Case of the Day: Thai-Lao Lignite (Thail.) Co v. Gov't of the Lao People's Democratic Republic, 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 13065 (2d Cir. July 20, 2017)


The parties, one of which is the Laotian government, held in an arbitration in Malaysia in 2007. The claimant (which was a Thai corporation) prevailed, winning $57 million award. After the period for challenging the award in Malaysia expired, the claimant began enforcement in the United States, United Kingdom and France. Then 2012, respondent Laos managed to set aside the award in Malaysia after winning an extension of time. With the vacatur, Laos challenged the federal district court decision allowing the enforcement of the award. The district court granted the challenge and vacated its enforcement order. The district court also denied the claimant's petition to enforce the UK judgment that was based on the annulled arbitration award. The original claimant of the arbitration appealed.

The Second Circuit affirmed. The court found that Rule 60(b)(5) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure applied in setting aside an enforcement order based on an annulled arbitration award. The court also found that under the New York Civil Procedure and Law Rules 5304(b)(5), which provides the grounds for non-recognition of foreign judgments, allows the court to consider the grounds for non-recognition of foreign judgments sua sponte.


Woot! My main practice is the enforcement and execution of foreign judgments and arbitral awards, and this is about as exciting as a case could be. The Laotian government pulled out the bottom-of-the-9th legal victory and turned the tables on a case that has been ongoing for decades all over the world. (The original events that gave rise to the dispute occurred into the early 1990s.)

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