Judge Gives Final Word on Lifting of ExxonMobil/PDVSA Injunction Case

PdVSA reported that on March 20, Justice Walker of the High Court of Justice in London made public his full decision lifting the ex parte freezing injunction ExxonMobil had obtained against PDVSA in January. On March 18, the Judge had announced in open court his decision that the injunction should be lifted, indicating that he would explain in full his reasons in a written decision to be published on March 20.

The text of the 45-page decision makes clear that virtually all arguments advanced by ExxonMobil were rejected by the Court. In particular, the Court held that there was no urgency to justify ExxonMobil's application for an injunction, that PDVSA had not in any way acted improperly with respect to its assets and that neither the case nor PDVSA had any significant connection with the United Kingdom. The Judge also expressed skepticism as to the underlying claims in the arbitration against PDVSA, stating that he "cannot say that Mobil's case will probably succeed" and doubting Mobil's characterization of the case as simply one involving expropriation without compensation.

In the order lifting the injunction, the Court set a schedule for determining the amount of damages that ExxonMobil should pay to PDVSA as a result of the freezing injunction and ordered ExxonMobil to pay PDVSA's costs as determined in a detailed assessment to follow. It also directed ExxonMobil to notify all third parties previously contacted concerning the freezing injunction that it was no longer in effect.

The filing of the full decision giving the Court's reasons for the judgment brings to a close the injunction proceedings in London, except for the determination of the amount of PDVSA's costs and damages to be paid by ExxonMobil.