France Unveils New International Arbitration Statute: In January, France adopted a statute governing arbitration that took effect May 1, 2011. The statute is intended to maintain France’s role as a leading venue for international arbitration disputes.
Under the statute, the president of the Paris Court of First Instance is given the title of “support judge” and has the authority to support international arbitration proceedings in the event of procedural disputes. The support judge has jurisdiction when arbitration is in France or the parties have selected French procedural law. Remarkably, the support judge also has jurisdiction if one of the parties to the dispute is exposed to a risk of denial of justice, even if there is no link to France.
With respect to discovery, the new law allows parties to the arbitration to ask the support judge to order a third party to produce documents provided they first obtain permission from the tribunal. In addition, an arbitral tribunal can order the parties to produce documents subject to a penalty if they fail to comply. Another notable feature of the statute is that international arbitration clauses no longer need to be in writing, even if concluded before May 1.
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