On 6 February 2018, the Iraqi Cabinet endorsed the "New York Convention". At the time, no law was published that confirmed this endorsement. It was only understood that application of the New York Convention would not apply retrospectively. Nonetheless, the Cabinet's endorsement of the New York Convention was seen as significant step in Iraq's attempts to affirm to the international business community that foreign investors would be legally protected by the country's judicial apparatus.
Full accession of the New York Convention remained elusive, however, as it required ratification of Iraq's Parliament. Approximately two and a half years after the Cabinet's endorsement, on 4 March 2021, the Iraqi Parliament website announced that Iraqi law has been enacted giving effect to the New York Convention. The new law is yet to be fully published in the Iraqi Gazette, however, we anticipate that it will arrive soon. In any event, Article 12 of the New York Convention states that the Convention enters into force in a State acceding to it on the 90th day after that State deposits its instrument of accession.
The draft law published on the Iraqi website states that Iraq accedes to the New York Convention, with the following reservations:
- The Convention's provisions are inapplicable in Iraq in respect of awards rendered prior to Iraq's accession to the Convention (i.e. the New York Convention cannot be applied in Iraq retrospectively);
- The Convention is inapplicable in respect of recognition and enforceability of awards rendered in other Member States to the New York Convention if those Member States do not recognise and enforce awards rendered in Iraq (i.e. there must be reciprocity between Iraq and other nations); and
- The Convention is inapplicable in the Republic of Iraq except in respect of disputes arising from contractual and non-contractual relations that are considered 'commercial' under Iraqi law (i.e. in Iraq the Convention only applies to 'commercial' disputes).
We await publication of the law in the Iraq Gazette for confirmation on its exact provisions and effect.