Copenhagen arbitration between airport authority and Nuance settled in favour of landlord

DENMARK. An arbitration tribunal established earlier in the year to resolve a dispute between Copenhagen Airports and its duty free concessionaire The Nuance Group (Denmark) has been resolved in favour of the airport group.

In a statement, Copenhagen Airports Group said: “As stated in our interim report for the first quarter 2003 of 8 May 2003 (8/2003), The Nuance Group (Denmark) A/S has initiated arbitration proceedings, claiming a reduction of the agreed concession charge.

“Today, 22 December 2003, the arbitral tribunal has ruled completely in favour of Copenhagen Airports A/S for the claiming made by The Nuance Group (Denmark) A/S.”

Copenhagen Airports vice-president Flemming Petersen told The Moodie Report: “It is an important contract for the airport so we’re happy to see this ruling.”

Describing the judgement as a “perfectly clear ruling”, Petersen said he hoped it would now be business as usual for the remainder of the retailer’s contract which began last May and runs until 2007.

A spokesperson for The Nuance Group told The Moodie Report that the company declined to comment on the ruling.

The core of the issue lay with Nuance’s dissatisfaction with traffic levels in the wake of the 11 September 2001-related downturn in traffic. The contract was originally negotiated in the summer of 2001 before the US attacks happened. Explaining Copenhagen Airports’ position, Petersen said: “From the very beginning we felt that the contract was based per passenger going into the airport [as opposed to a minimum annual guarantee] so in a sense Nuance was already compensated for any downturn in traffic.”

He added that as Nuance had won the contract in an open tender and was a “professional retailer”, the airport authority felt that the terms had to be respected.

Earlier this year the tribunal asked both parties to make one final attempt at mutual resolution but that was a “very short meeting”, according to Petersen, that failed to reach an amicable settlement. That led, in turn, to the final and binding decision made by the tribunal.

Note: This was a mutually agreed arbitration under the terms of the contract. It was not litigation, an important distinction both parties are anxious to emphasise.

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