Developments in PIL Journals Scholarship

Journal du Droit International: Issue 2 of 2021

The second issue of the Journal du droit international for 2021 has just been released. It contains two articles and several case notes relating to private international law issues. It also includes an hommage to its former director, Emmanuel Gaillard.

In the first article, Mathieu Guerriaud and Clotilde Jourdain-Fortier (University of Burgundy Franche-Comté, CREDIMI) discuss, from a political perspective, the legal regime of the international contracts for the procurement of Covid-19 vaccines concluded by the European Union (“L’accès au vaccin contre la Covid-19 : le contrat international peut-il suffire ?“). 

The English abstract reads:

The European Union has opted for centralized negotiation to ensure the supply of Covid-19 vaccines to its Member States. To this end, several international contracts have been concluded by the European Commission with pharmaceutical companies. In principle, those contracts are covered by confidentiality, but three of them were published following a dispute over the interpretation of the obligations of one of those companies. Analysis of those contracts indicates that they are advance purchase agreement, which may fall under the Vienna Convention on the International Sale of Goods, and raise issues of interpretation as to the nature of the obligation to manufacture and deliver the vaccine doses. Is it an obligation of result, as the Commission seems to assert, or an obligation of means on the part of laboratories ? The “best reasonable efforts” clauses are particularly difficult to interpret here, especially as part of contracts characterized by an obligation of cooperation between the parties and in a European context of pharmaceutical deindustrialization. In the face of supply difficulties in the execution of those contracts, contractualization shows its limits and some believe that a more radical solution could be envisaged, that of infringing the industrial property rights of the laboratory. To this end, several weapons available to the public authorities are examined here. Some of them, like the ex officio license or the compulsory license, are moderately prejudicial to the rights of the patentee, while others are much bolder and more damaging for the manufacturer, like the expropriation of the patent, the requisition or even the nationalization. In all cases, the question of sovereignty and the pharmaceutical industrial apparatus arises, and it is on this point that decision-makers will have to work for the next decades to come, because medicines, and vaccines in particular, have become diplomatic weapons.

In the second article, Mauricio Almeida Prado (Arbitrator, PhD, University of Paris X) addresses the important issue of incorrect awards in international commercial arbitration (“Réflexions sur les sentences incorrectes au fond dans l’arbitrage commercial international“). 

The English abstract reads:

Awards that incorrectly decide the merits of a dispute are regrettable events in the practice of international commercial arbitration.

As a voluntary mechanism, trust in its ability to promote legal certainty and provide technically correct decisions is at the heart of its choice as a method of dispute resolution. Consequently, the recurrence of incorrect awards as to the merits has negative effects on the arbitral system because it threatens its credibility.

The article is based on three main ideas. First : it is important to define what is meant by an incorrect sentence as to its merits and, above all, not to confound it with divergent sentences, but technically correct. Second, it addresses the most common reasons that lead to errors in arbitral awards. Third : few proposals are presented to improve the organization of evidence production and the quality of the decision-making process by the arbitral tribunals.

A full table of contents can be downloaded here.

Marion is law professor at Artois University (France)

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