Arbitration and administrative law in France by Friedrich Niggemann
Many national and international contracts between French administrative and commercial entities contain arbitration agreements. Since several years there was a conflict of jurisdiction between the administrative or civil courts in case of litigation about recognition, enforcement, and annulment of awards in this field of administrative contracts. Through a number of decisions of the highest French civil and administrative courts, as well as the Conflict’s Tribunal, it is now established that the administrative courts have jurisdiction. However, via a very wide interpretation of the notion of « ordre public », and in stark contrast to the civil courts, the administrative courts scrutinise the awards as well on the merits. This applies to recognition and enforcement (« exequatur ») as well as to annulment procedures. Whereas the issue of jurisdiction between these two branches is thus settled, the difference of the degree of review by the two branches of the French court system is regrettable and raises problems for the partners of the French administration.