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Iran-United States Claims Tribunal

Iran-United States Claims Tribunal

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The Iran-United States Claims Tribunal (IUSCT) is an international arbitral tribunal
Arbitral tribunal
An arbitral tribunal is a panel of one or more adjudicators which is convened and sits to resolve a dispute by way of arbitration. The tribunal may consist of a sole arbitrator, or there may be two or more arbitrators, which might include either a chairman or an umpire...

 established out of an agreement between Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

 and the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, under an understanding known as the Algiers Accords
Algiers Accords
The Algiers Accords of January 19, 1981, were brokered by the Algerian government between the United States and Iran to resolve the Iran hostage crisis. The crisis arose from the takeover of the American embassy in Tehran on November 4, 1979, and the taking hostage of the American staff there...

 of January 19, 1981. The Algiers Accords were the outcome of negotiations between Iran and the United States, mediated by Algeria, to resolve a hostage crisis
Iran hostage crisis
The Iran hostage crisis was a diplomatic crisis between Iran and the United States where 52 Americans were held hostage for 444 days from November 4, 1979 to January 20, 1981, after a group of Islamist students and militants took over the American Embassy in Tehran in support of the Iranian...

. In exchange for the release of the hostages by Iran, the United States agreed to unfreeze Iranian assets. The tribunal was established to resolve claims by United States nationals for compensation for assets nationalized by the Iranian government, and claims by the governments against each other; any national court proceedings were nullified by the declarations. This was necessary in part because a large part of the frozen Iranian funds had already been transferred by United States courts to United States nationals as compensation; the declarations resulted in the reversal of all these United States court decisions.

The seat of the Tribunal is The Hague
The Hague
The Hague is the capital city of the province of South Holland in the Netherlands. With a population of 500,000 inhabitants , it is the third largest city of the Netherlands, after Amsterdam and Rotterdam...

. It held its first meeting in the Peace Palace
Peace Palace
The Peace Palace is a building situated in The Hague, Netherlands. It is often called the seat of international law because it houses the International Court of Justice , the Permanent Court of Arbitration, the Hague Academy of International Law, and the extensive Peace Palace Library.In addition...

 on July 1, 1981; in April 1982, it moved to its own premises in The Hague.

The Tribunal is composed of nine arbitrators: three appointed by Iran, three appointed by the United States, and a further three (neither Iranian nor United States nationals) appointed by the previous six arbitrators. The Tribunal hears individual cases in the formation of three-member chambers (consisting of one Iranian, one American, and one from the three appointed by the other six); it meets as a full tribunal to consider disputes between the two governments, and cases referred from the chambers.

The Tribunal closed to new claims by private individuals on January 19, 1982. In total, it received approximately 4,700 private US claims. The Tribunal has ordered payments by Iran to US nationals totaling over USD 2.5 billion. Almost all private claims have now been resolved; but several intergovernmental claims are still before the Tribunal.

Iranian officials have called for the release of frozen assets; according to private businessman and economic analyst Saeed Laylaz, the frozen assets held in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 amount "to something like $8 billion to $12 billion".

Legality


In 1986 an English court
English law
English law is the legal system of England and Wales, and is the basis of common law legal systems used in most Commonwealth countries and the United States except Louisiana...

 held the tribunal to be void
Void (law)
In law, void means of no legal effect. An action, document or transaction which is void is of no legal effect whatsoever: an absolute nullity - the law treats it as if it had never existed or happened....

 under its own lex loci arbitri
Lex loci arbitri
The lex loci arbitri is the Latin term for "law of the place where arbitration is to take place" in the conflict of Laws. Conflict is the branch of public law regulating all lawsuits involving a "foreign" law element where a difference in result will occur depending on which laws are...

(which the court held to be Dutch law); see Dallal v Bank Mellat [1986] 1 QB 441.

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