This article intends to investigate a major set-back to arbitration under Iranian law, i.e. the requirement of receiving an authorization from the Iran Council of Ministers and/or Parliament to refer disputes relating to public and state-owned assets to arbitration. This requirement is enshrined in Article 139 of Iranian Constitution (‘Article 139’).
The article examines this provision through the prism of arbitrability focusing on treaty-based investment arbitration. To this end, the existing practice and court precedence pertaining to Article 139 are studied and critically analysed. In particular, the implications of this requirement on the jurisdiction of arbitral tribunals and enforcement of awards are considered in depth in the light of the wording of bilateral investment treaties (BITs) concluded between the Islamic Republic of Iran and other countries.
Overall, we conclude, that Article 139 is not as serious a problem in BIT arbitration as it may be in commercial arbitration, especially as far as enforcement of awards is concerned. This has to do, partly, with the wording of Iran’s BITs, the risk of state responsibility for nonenforcement of awards in investment arbitration, and, of course, the possibility to enforce arbitral investment awards outside of Iran.Journal of International Arbitration