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GAR 100 - 10th Edition

ArbLit – Radicati di Brozolo Sabatini Benedettelli

01 March 2017

The Milan boutique scored a big defence win for Telecom Italia in 2016

People in Who’s Who Legal 3
Pending cases as counsel 10
Value of pending counsel work US$300 million
Treaty cases 6
Current arbitrator appointments 19 (of which 3 are as sole or chair)
Lawyers sitting as arbitrator 3

ArbLit was launched by Luca Radicati di Brozolo and Michele Sabatini, who broke away from Bonelli Erede Pappalardo, Italy’s largest law firm, in 2013. The Milan-based outfit made its debut in the GAR 100 in 2015 and was recognised at the GAR Awards in the same year.

A well-known name in Italy, Radicati di Brozolo is also highly regarded for his expertise in EU and antitrust law, and was head of the competition department at Italy’s Chiomenti Studio Legale in the 1990s, when he also headed the firm’s Brussels office. He joined Bonelli in 2001, later heading its London disputes desk. Also a door tenant at Fountain Court Chambers in London, he has sat as arbitrator at the ICC and LCIA, as well as the Milan Chamber of Arbitration and the Geneva Chamber of Commerce and Industry. In addition, he is chair of private international law at the Catholic University of Milan and a former vice chair of the International Bar Association’s arbitration committee.

Sabatini, who was a senior associate at Bonelli but joined ArbLit as partner, also sits as arbitrator in ICC cases and the Milan chamber. He is a member of the Milan and New York bars, and has particular expertise in FIDIC disputes. The other name partner is Massimo Benedettelli, who joined in 2014 from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer in Milan and is also an arbitrator and professor of international law.

In an interview with GAR, Radicati di Brozolo says the firm favours a “lean and mean” model but is ready to team up with individuals or firms in other countries for specific cases.

Who uses it?

Telecom Italia, Tenova and Finmeccanica are among the firm’s major Italian clients, while it has also lately been advising German steelmaker Thyssenkrupp. Another client is Italian engineering group Consta in claims against Ethiopian and Djiboutian state entities under the rules of the European Development Fund.

In the investment treaty sphere, it is representing the International PhotoVoltaic Investors Club in six claims against the Czech Republic relating to the country’s reforms to its solar power sector. ArbLit was brought in by the claimants to replace another firm.

Track record

A team led by Benedettelli scored a victory for Telecom Italia’s Brazilian unit TIM in 2016, helping it defeat a US$150 million ICC claim that concerned allegations of fraud. The dispute related to a merger deal with a prominent Rio de Janeiro businessman.

In 2013 and 2015, the firm won favourable jurisdictional rulings in two trailblazing ICSID cases against Argentina, brought on behalf of Italian bondholders affected by the state’s debt default. Although the two cases were later discontinued, the decisions will stand as valuable precedents for future treaty claims over sovereign debt.

Radicati di Brozolo is no stranger to breaking new ground at ICSID. At his former firm, he was counsel to Italian oil company Saipem in a landmark ICSID case against Bangladesh, where a state court’s interference in an ICC arbitration was held to amount to an expropriation.

Recent events

Together with Quinn Emanuel, ArbLit helped US insurer AmTrust settle a €3 billion dispute with a former business partner in July 2016, after persuading a Milan court to disqualify an arbitrator accused of taking a bribe. US litigation against the arbitrator continues.

In another case, the firm helped Iranian company Hezar Aluminum Industries enforce an award in the courts of Turin.

Meanwhile, Radicati di Brozolo helped Italy’s Consta win a €20 million award in claim against Djibouti and Ethiopia over a deal to renovate a railway between the two states’ capitals. The award is now being challenged in the Ethiopian courts.   

Benedettelli was also appointed by Nike to serve as arbitrator in a dispute with Italian football club Juventus relating to an exclusive sponsorship deal allegedly breached in the fallout of a match-fixing scandal. The panel rejected most of Nike’s €80 million damages claim in July 2016.

Client comment

Giorgio Melega, general counsel at engineering group Tenova, praises the “hands-on approach” of the ArbLit partners. Alfredo Gracian, general counsel of solar power company Origis Energy, singles out Radicati di Brozolo and of counsel Marco Torsello for their “superior skills.”

Luigi Patanè, a former CEO of Consta, describes the team as “a very good mix between experience and dynamism”. The firm’s small size guarantees “easy and direct contact” with the partners managing the case, he adds.

Frank Schulte, a member of the solar investors’ club suing the Czech Republic, describes Radicati di Brozolo and Sabatini as “excellent lawyers” whose in-depth involvement in the case “really makes them superior”.  He adds that while the firm is small, it performs “like a big law firm”.