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GAR 100 - 10th Edition

Tomov & Tomov

02 March 2017

The Bulgarian firm regularly defends its home state in investment disputes, pairing up with the likes of White & Case

People in Who’s Who Legal 1
Pending cases as counsel 8
Value of pending counsel work US$2 billion+
Treaty cases 8
Current arbitrator appointments 12 (of which 1 is as sole or chair)
Lawyers sitting as arbitrator 1

The boutique firm was founded in 1993 by Lazar Tomov in Sofia and specialises in arbitration, litigation and complex financial transactions. Tomov himself balances his work as counsel with a thriving practice as an arbitrator, having been appointed to more than 100 panels. His counsel work has included ICSID, ICC and UNCITRAL proceedings, as well as disputes under the auspices of the Arbitration Court of the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The firm’s other partner is Sylvia Steeva.

Tomov & Tomov is best known for representing Bulgaria in some of its earliest investment treaty cases, in collaboration with international counsel White & Case. This pairing started in 2003 with the successful defence of the state against a US$280 million claim by Cyprus’s Plama Consortium under the Energy Charter Treaty (ECT). It was the first ICSID case under the ECT to reach a ruling on the merits, with a 2008 award concluding that the investor had made fraudulent misrepresentations.

The same co-counsel team has achieved a string of further successes. In a pair of commercial arbitrations involving Bulgaria, they helped the state to win a substantial ICC award against a private equity fund in 2012; and defeat an ICC claim by a Swedish engineering company at the jurisdictional phase in 2014 (the award was later upheld in the French courts).

Tomov & Tomov has collaborated to great effect with other GAR 100 firms too. Together with Sidley Austin, it defended Bulgaria against a €60 million treaty claim at the Permanent Court of Arbitration. The tribunal dismissed the claim on jurisdicitonal grounds and awarded the state costs. Tomov & Tomov then co-counselled with German firm Hanefeld to have the award enforced in Germany, and with De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek to defend a set-aside action in the Dutch courts that was ultimately abandoned by the investor.

More recently it has teamed up with Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer to defend Bulgaria in two pending ICSID matters – an ECT claim by Czech energy group CEZ; and a claim by Oman’s largest sovereign wealth fund concerning an investment in a collapsed bank. It’s also helping White & Case again on two other ECT cases against Bulgaria at ICSID, brought by Czech investor Energo-Pro and Austria’s EVN.

Client comment

One user of the firm’s services praises its strategic judgement in the selection of arguments, and its thoroughness. “They approach every legal issue with legal knowledge, diligence and dedication,” the user says. The fees are reasonable, and Lazar Tomov in particular is an “outstanding litigator with good judgement and powerful argumentation,” the client adds.