P&ID cannot enforce the arbitration award in the United States because Nigeria has “sovereign immunity” in the U.S. courts.

Although Nigeria is resisting enforcement of the award in the U.S. by claiming it is protected by sovereign immunity, in fact there is no basis for that assertion; clearly the Nigerian government is just trying to frustrate P&ID’s effort to get paid what it is owed. Although states can be immune from legal proceedings in the courts of other countries, that is only true in certain situations. In this case, Nigeria cannot claim immunity because it agreed to resolve its dispute with P&ID through arbitration in London, and now, because the Nigerian government refuses to pay the award, P&ID may enforce the arbitration award in courts around the world. P&ID can do this under an international treaty called the 1958 Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Arbitral Awards, more commonly known as the “New York Convention.” Over 150 countries are a party to this treaty, including United Kingdom, the United States and Nigeria itself. Under U.S. law, Nigeria is not entitled to sovereign immunity in these circumstances. In legal terms, two exceptions to immunity apply here: the arbitration-award exception and the implied-waiver exception. They can be found in the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, codified at 28 United States Code, Sections 1605(a)(1) and 1605(a)(6).