The Egyptian Arbitration Law No. 27/1994 (the ‘Egyptian Arbitration Law’) was enacted without delineating the subject of arbitrability of administrative contracts. This was one of the hottest pre-existing debates preceding the promulgation of the Egyptian Arbitration Law, yet the latter has succinctly mentioned that arbitration is valid between public and private entities. The Legislature did not find such wording sufficient to settle this debate and decided in 1997 to introduce a specific amendment elaborating this issue.
The 1997 amendment might have settled the arbitrability of administrative contracts debate, however, it initiated another debate when it required that arbitration agreements under administrative contracts be approved by the competent minister. Until now, there are some unsettled issues concerning this ministerial approval requirement. For instance, which party is liable to procure such ministerial approval: the administrative authority or its private counterparty? Could this ministerial approval be implied? For example, what if the competent minister has attended the contract signing ceremony, would that be enough? Another recurring question is whether such a ministerial approval pertains to public policy or not. This article tries to answer these questions in light of the recent decisions rendered by the Egyptian courts and arbitral tribunals.Journal of International Arbitration