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GAR 100 - 10th Edition

Motieka & Audzevicius

06 March 2017

The Lithuanian firm helped Gazprom defeat a US$2 billion claim

People in Who’s Who Legal 1
Pending cases as counsel 3
Value of pending counsel work US$213 million
Treaty cases 2

Founding partner Kazimieras Motieka has been practising law since 1959 – making Motieka & Audzevičius one of the longest operating law firms in Lithuania.

Following the arrival in 2003 of Ramunas Audzevičius – now co-head of dispute resolution – the firm began to focus on disputes arising out of foreign investment in new economies in the Baltic States and CIS. The team is now recognised as the leading arbitration practice in Lithuania.

The other co-head of dispute resolution is Jovitas Elzbergas, who specialises in real estate and construction disputes.

Network

Based in the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius, the firm is part of the Hedman Group, a Baltic-leaning network including firms in Finland, Estonia and Latvia.

Who uses it?

Besides Gazprom, it has advised drinks manufacturer Bosca, Serbian gas distributor Srbijagas and Russia’s Sberbank. Generally, the firm’s bread and butter is counsel work for investors in the CIS region. It says it has acted for Italian, Danish and Lithuanian investors in bilateral investment treaty claims against Lithuania.

Other times it has paired up with Lalive to represent a global engineering contractor and power equipment supplier in ICC disputes relating to a Baltic oil refinery.

Track record

The firm’s most spectacular results have been for Gazprom in a long-running dispute with Lithuania’s energy ministry over a privatised natural gas provider. As co-counsel with Dentons, it persuaded an SCC tribunal to throw out a US$2 billion claim that alleged the Russian state entity had unfairly raised gas prices (Shearman & Sterling were on the other side). Lithuania is now challenging that award in the Swedish courts.  

In an earlier phase of the dispute, Motieka & Audzevicius persuaded the Lithuanian Supreme Court to recognise an earlier SCC award that had restrained the energy ministry from litigating some of its claims against Gazprom. That part of the case went all the way up to the European Court of Justice, leading to a landmark ruling that anti-suit injunctions issued by arbitral tribunals aren’t incompatible with EU law. The ECJ ruling was recognised at the GAR Awards as the most important decision of 2015.

Another case saw it represent Lithuania’s ICOR group in an SCC dispute that ended up before the Lithuanian Court of Appeal and the Belarusian Supreme Court. While the amounts at stake were small, the firm impressively obtained a declaration from the Supreme Court accepting the concept of the assignment of an arbitration clause.

Recent events

The firm says it is acting for investors in disputes with Belarus and Lithuania. It has been retained by Serbian energy company Srbijagas for multiple disputes with one of Lithuania’s largest companies, including proceedings to enforce four ICC and VIAC awards.

Another Lithuanian client is using it for a €2 million ICC claim against a Swedish energy company.

Beata Kozubovska was named Lithuania’s regional representative to the LCIA’s Young International Arbitration Group.