Bloomberg is reporting that the Argentine Supreme Court has lifted the embargo of Chevron’s assets (technically, I suppose, the assets of its subsidiaries and affiliates in Argentina, although I haven’t yet figured out exactly what the opinion says) in Argentina that the Lago Agrio plaintiffs had obtained in aid of the $19 billion Ecuadoran judgment against Argentina. Bloomberg’s article focuses on the implications of the ruling for Chevron’s joint venture with YPF, a recently nationalized energy company in Argentina.
I suppose, in light of Argentina’s recent rule of law woes, that there is more than one way to spin this decision. Perhaps the LAPs will say that the Argentine justice system is hopelessly political and responded to political pressures from a government desperate to attract foreign investment. (A bit ironic, no?) And I suppose that Chevron could say that if even Argentina is not going to cooperate with the LAPs recognition and enforcement efforts, then the LAPs have little chance of success.
More to come! In particular, I am going to try to figure out how the latest decision squares, or doesn’t square, with the views that the LAPs’ lawyers expressed in their press conference earlier this month.
Update: The Lago Agrio plaintiffs have described the Argentine court’s decision as a “temporary setback.” The claim the decision is contrary to Article 5 of the Inter-American Convention on Execution of Preventive Measures, which provides that a “person affected” by an embargo under the Convention has the right to be heard by the judge of the court in the country where the main case is pending—here, Ecuador—and that therefore there was no denial of due process. The Argentine court disagreed with this reading of Article 5, holding that since the Ecuadoran court had already decided to extend the embargo to the subsidiaries, thus making a return trip to the Ecuadoran courts futile.