AGA Partners successfully represented the Ukrainian agri-trading company in a dispute with a Belarusian trading company before the International Commercial Arbitration Court at the Ukrainian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (“ICAC”).
The dispute concerned the buyer’s failure to pay for a delivered parcel of the goods as well as his failure to take full quantity of the goods under the sale contract. The Client sought recovery of balance price for the goods, market price damages and penalty for delay in payment.
The buyer claimed that payment for the goods from his side was prevented due to a force majeure, allegedly triggered by the Presidential Decree of the Republic of Belarus No. 70 of 25 February 2020 (“Decree”), setting a mandatory one-year grace period for debts’ repayment. However, AGA Partners convinced the Arbitral Court that the said Decree was not a force majeure, since (1) the buyers’ company was not subject to the Decree, 2) there was no connection between the Decree and the buyer’s duties under the sale contract, (3) the parties expressly excluded breaches of payment duties from a scope of a force majeure clause.
The proceedings were further complicated by the buyer’s abuse of temporary restrictions, imposed due to COVID-19 pandemic, in order to postpone hearing of the matter.
Partner Iryna Moroz commented the case as follows:
“This matter raised quite an uncommon situation of governmental intervention into commercial relations, which led to a temporary suspension of a debt collection process. Furthermore, once more the ICAC has proven its efficiency by countering a party’s delaying tactics to save time and costs for the proceedings”.