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GAR 100 - 10th Edition

Templars

09 March 2017

A favourite of major oil and gas clients in Nigeria

Pending cases as counsel 8
Value of pending counsel work US$9 billion+
Treaty cases 0

This Nigerian firm was founded in the 1960s by a future Supreme Court Justice of Nigeria and rebranded in the 1990s.

Its disputes work has grown out of its leading energy and projects practice. The firm is a first port of call for international oil and gas clients, which has given it a weighty portfolio of commercial arbitration work. When our researchers asked GAR 100 firms to name their preferred African co-counsel, Templars repeatedly came up. The firm has been in some of the biggest cases relating to Nigeria.

Partner Adewale Atake in Lagos heads the arbitration practice. He is a member of the London Court of International Arbitration. Other names to know are Godwin Omoaka, Inam Wilson and Igonikon Whyte.

Besides Lagos, the firm has offices in Port Harcourt, Abuja and Uyo.

Who uses it?

ExxonMobil and Shell have used the firm in a monumental matter (see below). Other international clients of note include Enel, Halliburton, Hyundai Heavy Industries, Kellogg Brown & Root (KBR), South Atlantic Petroleum, Technip and Total. Nigerian clients include Emerald Energy Resources and United Africa Company (UAC).

It has also acted for the government of Nigeria’s Delta state in a US$4 billion telecoms dispute; and for Heineken’s local subsidiary, Nigerian Breweries.

The firm is regularly used on arbitration and post-award enforcement matters in the Nigerian courts.

Track record

Together with Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Templars helped ExxonMobil and Shell win a US$2 billion award against Nigeria’s national oil company NNPC in 2011, in a tax dispute concerning the Erha production field. (The award was set aside at first instance by the Nigerian courts but an appeal is pending, as are enforcement proceedings in the US courts.)

It helped Nigerian Breweries defeat a claim arising from “take or pay” provisions in a gas purchase agreement with Gaslink.

Another client, French company Philippe Lassarat, prevailed in a dispute with an international oil company about the painting of offshore wellhead platforms.

It defended Total Engineering Services Team against a claim by Chevron, reducing the client’s liability by more than half; and helped Enel to settle a dispute with Nigeria LNG.

Hyundai Heavy Industries was pleased when the firm blocked enforcement of a US$10.5 million award in Nigeria.

Recent events

The firm successfully represented Emerald Energy in an LCIA case brought by an international financial advisor over payment of fees under a consultancy agreement.

It defended oil services company Depthwize in a US$18 million ad hoc arbitration against an engineering company over the provision of rig facilities and drilling operations in the Niger Delta.

The firm is also assisting an oil consortium in another dispute with the NNPC over crude entitlement.

Client comment

One client praises Templars’ ability to organise experts, cooperate with other law firms, and make flexible billing arrangements. It says that partners Adewale Atake, Godwin Omoaka and Igonikon Whyte impressed with their “insights on potential arbitrators” and strategies for presenting evidence.

Ken Okorie, general counsel to Emerald Energy Resources, says: “Templars represented our company very ably at the tribunal. Their team was diligent, and highly professional.”

Uaboi Agbebaku, in-house counsel to Nigerian Breweries, says that the team’s ability to “distil the issues from the very beginning” convinced him that they were “on top of the game”. He says that the firm kept its client constantly updated on developments and that the lead partner led the defence “creditably”.