The Russian Roulette? Risks in Energy Investment Disputes in the Russian Federation

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The Russian Federation (Russia) has not managed to improve its investment environment effectively. The impetus of easing access to strategic industries for foreign investors and improving its domestic legal regime have not reached its full potential either. The on-going geo-political and geo-economic conflicts in and around Russia as well as the uncertain investor protection regime coupled with a general lack of rule of law in Russia contribute to this trend. As a consequence there is a growing discontent about the investor-state dispute
settlement involving bilateral investment treaties to which Russia is a party. Firstly, this article considers the recent developments in investor-state disputes with specific reference to the use or the lack of most favoured nation (MFN) status and other remedial avenues.
Secondly, it critiques the provisional application of ‘un-ratified’ treaties by particular reference to the Energy Charter Treaty (ECT), 1994. Finally, it provides a critique of the enforcement of arbitration awards in Russia in light of the on-going legal reform initiatives in Russia.
It is concluded that MFN treatment is widely accepted yet its application depends on specific provision/s of the BIT thus varies widely. The paper employs case studies pertaining to disputes involving the ECT to demonstrate that there are various pitfalls inherent in the ECT.
These include issues of jurisdiction, time and enforcement of awards. While there is evidence that the Russian Courts’ application of international conventions on the enforcement of foreign commercial arbitration awards does appear to be improving, the Russian Government has not always heeded to such determinations nor provided an effective and/or a meaningful remedy. Moreover, the recent legislative changes may signify slow deterioration of the Russian judicial system with regards to investment disputes.
Original languageEnglish
JournalOil, Gas and Energy Law
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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