Fountain Court Chambers

London & Singapore

Ben Valentin QC secures dismissal of challenge to share sale order in aid of enforcement of a New York Convention award in the Turkcell litigation

On 14 June 2017, the Court of Appeal of the Eastern Caribbean handed down the latest in a series of significant judgments supporting Sonera’s ongoing efforts to enforce a US$932 million ICC arbitration award, made in its favour in Geneva in 2011.  Sonera, the BVI judgment creditor, is a Dutch subsidiary of leading Scandinavian telecommunications operator, Telia Company (formerly TeliaSonera).  In its latest judgment, the Court dismissed an appeal by Cukurova, the award and judgment debtor, against the BVI court’s order requiring that its shareholding in Turkcell, held though a BVI holding company structure, should be sold in order to meet the judgment debt.

The Court of Appeal confirmed that where the enforcement court has already definitively considered and rejected New York Convention challenges to an arbitral award (see the decision of the Privy Council [2014] UKPC 15; [2015] 2 All ER 1061), continued enforcement of that award is unaffected by a subsequent arbitral award between the same parties.  As the Court held, it would be contrary to the public policy in judicial certainty for the enforcement court’s final judgment to be undermined by a subsequent arbitral award.  On the facts, as the Court also noted, the subsequent award had made no difference, in any event, to any of the conclusions reached by the first tribunal in the first award.

This decision marks the latest stage in a substantial dispute, which began in 2005, between two of the principal shareholders in Turkcell, Turkey’s largest telecommunications operator.

Ben Valentin QC, representing Sonera with Lynette Ramoutar of Sabals, was instructed by John Hardiman and Thomas Walsh of Sullivan & Cromwell LLP in New York.

A link to the BVI Court of Appeal’s judgment can be found here