Commentators and practitioners regard Article 17A of the Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration as the international standard for interim measures in international arbitration. Practitioners apply Article 17A often, even when the jurisdiction whose law is relevant to the case has not adopted it as domestic legislation, and even in emergency arbitrations and in investment treaty arbitrations.
To apply Article 17A correctly, however, practitioners must look at Article 2A(1) of the Model Law, which orders practitioners applying any Article of the Model Law, including Article 17A, to follow several mandatory principles of construction. Specifically, Article 2A orders practitioners to have ‘regard’ to the ‘international origin’ of the Model Law, ‘the need to promote uniformity in its application,’ and ‘the observance of good faith.’
Those principles of construction of Article 2A(1) have four specific and mandatory consequences on the application of the standard set forth in Article 17A, namely, that practitioners (1) must consider Article 17A’s travaux préparatoires, and must apply Article 17A in a way that does not contradict those travaux préparatoires; (2) must consider, but are not bound to follow, the publicly-available decisions by courts and arbitrators around the world that have applied Article 17A and the scholarly writings that have analysed it; (3) cannot construe Article 17A only under the canons of construction that they would apply to a domestic statute in the jurisdiction relevant to the case; and (4) must factor in equitable considerations.
This article helps practitioners with the first two of those four consequences. Specifically, to help practitioners apply the standard for interim measures set forth in Article 17A uniformly and correctly, i.e. in a way that complies with Article 2A’s mandatory principles of construction, this article analyses the travaux préparatoires of Article 17A, the scholarly writings that have analysed that article, and the publicly available decisions by courts and arbitrators around the world that have applied it, including decisions issued by arbitrators acting for the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA), and excerpts of non-publicly available decisions issued by arbitrators acting for the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce (SCC).
For the reader’s convenience, this Article analyses the travaux préparatoires and applicable authorities separately for each of the following elements of Article 17A’s standard: burden of proof; urgency; likely harm not adequately reparable by an award of damages; balance of convenience; reasonable possibility of success on the merits; jurisdiction; and other elements and considerations.
That analysis results in several principles of construction relevant to each element of Article 17A’s standard. The article ends with a chart – effectively a cheat sheet for practitioners – that lists those principles of construction for each element of the standard, and explains the rationale of those principles. It is the author’s hope that this chart will help practitioners apply each element of Article 17A’s standard correctly and uniformly.Journal of International Arbitration