International treaties

Spain v Infrastructure Services [2021] FCAFC 3

Investors secured an arbitration award for €1.1m under the ICSID Convention9 against Spain for default on a solar power project.  They sought execution in Australia under ICSID, a point being whether ‘execution’ extends to ‘enforcement’.  ICSID is made in English, French & Spanish – all equally authentic.

Treaty terms are presumed to ‘have the same meaning in each authentic text’10.  Difficulties are resolved by adopting the meaning which ‘best reconciles the texts’ by reference to objects and purpose.  Perram J held that ‘execution’ and ‘enforcement’ took their meanings from the French and Spanish texts – the English text did not prevail.

This principle is from Episode 70 of interpretation NOW!


9 Convention on the Settlement of Investment Disputes [etc].

10 Vienna Convention, cf Pharma-a-Care [2020] HCA 2 (at [36]), Episode 58.