BREAKING: Argentine Supreme Court Lifts Embargo of Chevron Assets In Lago Agrio Case

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.

About Ted Folkman

Ted Folkman is a shareholder with Murphy & King, a Boston law firm, where he has a complex business litigation practice. He is the author of International Judicial Assistance (MCLE 2d ed. 2016), a nuts-and-bolts guide to international judicial assistance issues, and of the chapter on service of process in the ABA's forthcoming treatise on International Aspects of US Litigation, and he is the publisher of Letters Blogatory, the Web's first blog devoted to international judicial assistance, which the ABA recognized as one of the best 100 legal blogs in 2012, 2014, and 2015.

2 thoughts on “BREAKING: Argentine Supreme Court Lifts Embargo of Chevron Assets In Lago Agrio Case

  1. Actually, political context surrounding this sentence not only involves the YPF agreements with Chevron but a much more complex scenario, since the president of the National Supreme Court of Justice, Ricardo Lorenzetti, has his own personal—and very political—agenda.

    Here in Argentina the decision was seen as an exchange of political favours. At least among those who know the case and understand its implications.

    Furthermore, no one was able to explain the disregard of the 3º article of CIDIP II.

    On top of that, the sentence was pronounced with an unusual speed for our judicial system.

    1. Florencia, thank you for the comment! For those of us who are less informed about the politics of Justice Lorenzetti, could you provide a little more background?

      Also, I would be grateful for an explanation of your point about CIDIP II. I assume you have in mind Article 3 of the Inter-American Convention on Execution of Preventive Measures, which provides:

      The grounds for a preventive measure shall be decided in accordance with the laws and by the judges of the place of the proceedings. However, its execution and the counter preventive measure or guaranty shall be determined by the judges of the place where execution is sought, in accordance with its law.
      The guaranty that the requesting party is to provide and any guaranty that the party affected may offer to provide in the place where the measure is to be executed shall be governed by the law of the place where the measure is executed.

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