Mobil Cerro Negro, Ltd., et al. v. Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela
United States Court of Appeals
FOR THE SECOND CIRCUIT
Docket No. 15707
Decided: July 11, 2017
Appeal from an order of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (Engelmayer, J.), denying a motion to vacate the judgment entered against the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela on an award made by an arbitral panel of the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes ("ICSID") in accordance with the Convention on the Settlement of Investment Disputes between States and Nationals of Other States (the "ICSID Convention"). The District Court relied on 22 U.S.C. § 1650a ("Section 1650a"), the statute enabling U.S. participation in the ICSID Convention, and certain exceptions set forth in the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act ("FSIA"), in exercising jurisdiction over the creditors' action against Venezuela. The District Court concluded that the procedure by which the creditors obtained the judgment--filing an ex parte petition for "recognition" in accordance with New York state law, N.Y. CPLR Art. 54--was appropriate in light of a perceived procedural "gap" in Section 1650a. Compliance with the FSIA's service of process and venue provisions was unnecessary, the District Court ruled, determining that to inject state processes into Section 1650a was more consistent with the ICSID Convention's goal of affording streamlined enforcement proceedings than would be applying the FSIA's provisions.
We conclude that the District Court erred. We reject the proposition that Section 1650a provides an independent grant of subject matter jurisdiction and hold that the FSIA provides the sole basis for federal court jurisdiction over foreign sovereigns in actions to enforce ICSID awards. Because the FSIA, not Section 1650a, governs these proceedings, the procedural requirements set forth in the FSIA's comprehensive scheme must be satisfied before a federal court may enter judgment against a foreign sovereign. These requirements were not met here. We therefore REVERSE the order denying respondent's motion, VACATE the judgment, and REMAND the cause with instructions to dismiss the ex parte petition.
REVERSED, VACATED, AND REMANDED.