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Formation of a Governmental Committee to Review Mining Royalties is Not Grounds for Arbitration

The Jerusalem District Court recently issued its ruling in the matter of Dead Sea Works Ltd. vs. the State of Israel. The proceeding included a discussion of Dead Sea Works’ petition to activate the arbitration clause stipulated in its concession agreement with the State of Israel. The petition was filed after the State refused to appoint an arbitrator pursuant to the arbitration clause.

Dead Sea Works sought to refer to arbitration the very formation of the Sheshinski Committee, pleading that it constitutes a violation the State’s covenant not to raise the rate of royalties payable by the Dead Sea Works for its mining license. Indeed, the Sheshinski Committee was formed for the purpose of reviewing the State’s policy on royalties due in consideration for the use of Israel’s natural resources.

The District Court rejected Dead Sea Works’ petition. It ruled that the mere formation of the Sheshinski Committee does not give rise to a dispute according to the arbitration mechanism prescribed in the concession agreement.

The Court issued its ruling based on the specific language of the arbitration clause in the concession agreement; it is conceivable that Dead Sea Works might have been allowed to pursue its position through arbitration proceedings had the arbitration clauses been worded differently.


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