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GAR 100 - 10th Edition

Mayer Brown

06 March 2017

Acting for the Panama Canal Authority in multiple ICC claims

People in Who’s Who Legal 2
Pending cases as counsel 54
Value of pending counsel work US$9 billion
Treaty cases 6
Current arbitrator appointments 23 (of which 23 are as sole or chair)
Lawyers sitting as arbitrator 13

Like many international firms in this directory, Mayer Brown built its reputation on litigation and later branched into international arbitration as part of that practice area.

The product of three firms dating back to the 19th century – Mayer Brown & Platt in the US, JSM in Asia and Rowe & Maw in Europe – it began by taking a role in US insurance arbitrations. But by the mid 1990s, it was advising on much larger matters, such as representing Turkmenistan on a series of oil and gas arbitrations worth billions of dollars.

Today, the practice consists of over 100 lawyers, led by partner Raid Abu-Manneh in London (a fluent Arabic speaker) and Menachem Hasofer in Hong Kong. In 2015, it welcomed B Ted Howes in New York as chair of the group in the US.

Another name to know is French-Lebanese partner Dany Khayat, who heads the international arbitration practice in Paris.

Senior consultant Robin Peard in Hong Kong is former deputy chairman of the HKIAC and was involved in the drafting of Hong Kong’s 2012 international arbitration law as well as in the revision of various sets of HKIAC arbitration rules.

Members of the firm sit as arbitrators at CIETAC, the HKIAC, the ICC, the Dubai International Arbitration Centre, the Cairo centre, DIS and the Madrid Court of Arbitration.

Network

The firm’s main offices for international arbitration are London, Paris, Chicago, New York, Houston, Frankfurt, Singapore, São Paolo and Hong Kong. It has ten offices in the Americas – including two in Brazil in association with local firm Tauil & Chequer – eight in Asia, and five in Europe. The European offices are known for their expertise in Middle East and Africa matters.

It also has an alliance with Chinese firm Jingtian & Gongcheng, which is helping it to enforce a US$40 million award achieved by the Mayer Brown team in a SIAC arbitration.

Who uses it?

At ICSID, the firm is acting for a subsidiary of New York private equity firm Clarion Partners in a US$200 million NAFTA claim against Canada; and Kuwait’s Foauad Alghanim & Sons in a US$150 million telecoms-related claim against Jordan. Government clients include Egypt (in a claim by French waste management company Veolia) and Gambia.

Aside from insurance expertise, Mayer Brown has industry-specific experience in the construction, energy and financial services sectors. The teams in London and Hong Kong are recognised for their construction disputes work. Clients include Canada’s SMI Construction in an ICC claim against Algeria’s national airline.

Its Asian clients include MTR Corporation, for disputes arising from a rail project linking Hong Kong with Guangzhou and Shenzhen on the mainland; Hong Kong & China Gas Company; and the Hong Kong government works bureau and tunnel company.

On the corporate side, it has also done work for UK defence contractor BAE Systems, US pharma group Merck and corn syrup producer Cargill.

Track record

In 2015, the firm helped US businessman Hassan Awdi win €8 million plus interest in an ICSID claim against Romania concerning his investment in a press distribution business and boutique hotel. The acrimonious case had taken place against the backdrop of multiple criminal investigations of Awdi, his family and companies.

The firm was brought in to defend a Brazilian satellite communications company in an ICDR proceeding seated in New York, winning substantive victories on the scope and applicability of Venezuelan telecoms law under the contract.

It has settled an ICSID claim for UK mining company Joy (against Egypt, ending an annulment application brought by the company). An ICSID case fought for Gambia saw the state ordered to pay US$23 million to Australian-owned Carnegie Minerals in 2015; annulment proceedings are pending.

The firm represented the HKIAC on a pro bono basis in the first litigation brought against the centre. The lawsuit, brought by a disgruntled user after the centre dismissed his challenge to two arbitrators, was rejected by the Hong Kong court of first instance with costs.

Recent events

With co-counsel Vinson & Elkins, it continues to defend the Panama Canal Authority in a series of ICC claims brought by a Spanish-Italian consortium relating to billions of dollars in cost overruns incurred during the expansion of the canal. Two new arbitrations were filed against the authority in late 2016.

The firm has been advising a biopharmaceutical company in an ICC case concerning the patent for a blockbuster drug. Meanwhile it is helping Netherlands-based digital security company Gemalto to enforce a US$45 million AAA award in Dallas against a US consortium of retailers.

Mayer Brown helped Hong Kong & China Gas Company to obtain an HKIAC award worth more than US$4 million against businessman Sun Tian Gang. But the Hong Kong courts later set aside the award for breach of natural justice on the grounds that Sun had been imprisoned in northeast China for the duration of the arbitration and hadn’t been able to defend himself.

India put Mayer Brown on a shortlist of 12 firms in the running to advise the state on investment arbitration matters.

The firm promoted Bill Amos and Venna Cheng in Hong Kong and Sarah Reynolds and Soledad O’Donnell in Chicago to partner. José Caicedo was promoted to counsel in the Paris office. Dany Khayat was made a council member of the LCIA.

Client comment

Ravi Isaac, former general counsel at Aegion Corporation in Singapore, hired the firm’s Hong Kong branch for a “fairly crucial matter”. The team made the other side’s lawyers look “bland, uninterested and unfamiliar with their client.” He also notes the firm’s willingness to scale back its fees and involvement in the case when other experts and QCs were involved, allowing the client to keep its costs down in a “complex and labour-intensive” arbitration.