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GAR 100 - 10th Edition

Leaua & Asociatii

10 March 2017

The Bucharest outfit regularly co-counsels with Lalive at ICSID

People in Who’s Who Legal 1
Pending cases as counsel 13
Value of pending counsel work US$2.7 billion
Treaty cases 3
Current arbitrator appointments 19 (of which 4 are as sole or chair)
Lawyers sitting as arbitrator 4

This highly regarded Romanian firm was set up in 2005 as an arbitration boutique – then called Leaua & Cadar – fronted by commercial arbitration lawyer Crenguta Leaua. She is a former vice president of ICC Romania and has been a vice president of the ICC Court since 2015.

Less than a year after it was launched, the firm defended the Romanian government in an ICSID case alongside Swiss firm Lalive, a collaboration that has continued. The firm says it is acting for Romania in three investment treaty arbitrations, which it calls a record for any Romanian firm.

Apart from investor-state matters, Leaua & Asociatii’s arbitration practice these days spans environmental and energy-based disputes, construction, infrastructure and public law, as well as intellectual property and tax areas.

Six of its lawyers are listed as arbitrators in various arbitral centres in Romania and abroad, while the firm’s senior partner, Stefan Deaconu, was appointed president of the arbitration court at Romania’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry in 2015.

Who uses it?

The Romanian government is a regular client at ICSID, while the Romanian ministry of public finances, a state-owned hydropower company and a state-owned road company have used it in some ICC matters.

Private clients in ICC cases include telecoms operator UTI Systems, and US engineering and construction company Louis Berger.

Track record

In 2013, Leaua & Asociatii and Lalive succeeded in knocking out a US$139 million ICSID claim brought by a Dutch investor in the Rompetrol oil refinery business. The tribunal declined to award any damages even though it found procedural irregularities in the state’s conduct of a criminal investigation.

Two years later, the same co-counsel team defeated the bulk of a €440 million claim brought against Romania by US citizen Hassan Awdi and his companies concerning an investment in a press distribution business and boutique hotel. The tribunal awarded the claimants only €8 million plus costs

The firm has also successfully defended a Bulgarian client against a claim by a French-owned company heard in Vienna; and won an ICC case for Israel’s Poldmir Construction against a Romanian state rail company.

Recent events

Since the last edition of the GAR 100, the firm has successfully defended the largest hydropower generation company in Romania against a US$11.5 million ICC claim by a Swiss company concerning the upgrade of a hydro plant.

It is also pairing with Lalive on two more ICSID cases for Romania: a claim by Canadian gold mining company Gabriel Resources; and the second case to be filed against the state by the Micula brothers – which concerns Romania’s alleged failure to police the black market for alcohol. 

Client comment

Remus Borza, from Romanian insolvency firm Euro Insol, tells that Leaua & Asociatii produced “quality” work and “definitely led the hearing” in a case where the firm represented an insolvent client of his. “Whereas the other party’s attorneys and experts were inconsistent in their declarations and inappropriately ill-tempered, the team from Leaua acted totally professionally and was well prepared for all the key points of the case,” he says.

Borislav Feschiev, former board member at Bulgarian financial services company Eurohold, says that the firm’s awareness of legal precedent impressed him and that the team was always in control.