Hogan Lovells obtains arbitration award against the Dominican Republic, involving jurisdictional issues of first impression

Miami, 17 July 2020 – Global law firm Hogan Lovells has obtained a Partial Award on Jurisdiction from a UNCITRAL Arbitral Tribunal in a case that involved issues of first impression under the CARICOM-DR Free Trade Agreement (Treaty).

Our client Michael Anthony Lee-Chin brought a claim under the CARICOM-DR Treaty against the Dominican Republic, involving an investment he made in a Dominican company. The Dominican Republic challenged the action on the basis of jurisdiction. 

After multiple rounds of substantive briefs, a document production phase, and a two-day jurisdictional hearing at the World Bank in Washington, DC, the Arbitral Tribunal issued its Partial Award on Jurisdiction in favor of Lee-Chin on issues of first impression under the Treaty. The Tribunal rejected all of the Dominican Republic’s jurisdictional objections related to the alleged lack of consent under Article XIII of the Treaty, and the lack of subject-matter jurisdiction based on Mr. Lee-Chin’s indirect investment in the Dominican Republic.   

Agreeing with the arguments made by Hogan Lovells, the Tribunal concluded that the Dominican Republic “has, clearly and unambiguously, granted consent to international arbitration,” and that the “Treaty applies to Claimant’s investments in the Dominican Republic.” 

The arbitration now will go forward to the merits phase to address Lee-Chin’s claim that the Dominican Republic violated the standards of protection granted to foreign investors under the Treaty. Lee-Chin’s investment consisted of 90% of the shares in a Dominican company, Lajún Corporation S.A., which held a concession contract to manage a landfill in Santo Domingo where Mr. Lee-Chin was developing a Waste-to-Energy plant. The local authorities of Santo Domingo expropriated the investment without compensation by taking military control of the landfill and bringing local actions to nullify the concession. Lee-Chin’s investment and damages caused by the State’s actions have been valued at more than $US 580 million. 

The Hogan Lovells team was led by partners Richard C. Lorenzo and Maria Eugenia Ramirez, with the support of partner Mark Cheskin, former firm associate Javier Peral, foreign law clerk Juliana de Valdenebro, and paralegal Marta Urra, all in the firm’s Miami office.

A link to the award is here.


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