London’s latest public international law boutique
|People in Who’s Who Legal||1|
|Pending cases as counsel||5|
|Value of pending counsel work||US$1.4 billion+|
NEW IN 2017. Stephen Fietta set up this firm in late 2015 after almost five years with Volterra Fietta, the boutique he co-founded with Robert Volterra. The pair had worked together for more than a decade at Latham & Watkins and Herbert Smith before setting up their own shop in 2011 devoted exclusively to public international law and international arbitration.
Fietta’s new outfit has a similar focus, encompassing investment treaty arbitration, environmental and boundary disputes at the state-to-state level, and human rights. He has advised on cases at the International Court of Justice and the European Court of Human Rights and has co-authored a practitioner’s guide to maritime boundary delimitation.
Among Fietta’s new team are former members of Volterra Fietta who had already left before his departure. These include counsel Jiries Saadeh, a former legal officer at the United Nations; senior associate Laura Rees-Evans (who has also practised at Debevoise & Plimpton); and consultant James Upcher, a lecturer on international law at Newcastle University. Senior associate Ashique Rahman has also followed Fietta from his old firm.
Who uses it?
In early 2017, Stephen Fietta was added to the UK Attorney General’s prestigious Public International Law “A Panel” – the list of preferred counsel to the UK government.
Less than a year after it opened, Fietta was also one of 12 law firms shortlisted by India to provide external counsel in investor-state disputes.
Other state clients that have turned to the firm’s members in the past include Nigeria, Malaysia, Barbados, Colombia, Saudi Arabia, Ukraine and Croatia. Fietta lawyers have also acted for private clients including Owens-Illinois; Koch Industries; Vigotop (a company co-owned by US businessman Ronald Lauder); and British-Iraqi national Ali Allawi and his LNG company Progas.
While it’s early days for the firm in terms of results, members of the team were involved in some significant wins while at Volterra Fietta – including securing a US$455 million ICSID award against Venezuela on behalf of US bottlemaker Owens-Illinois; and helping Malaysia prevail in a politically sensitive arbitration with Singapore concerning a billion-dollar levy on railway lands.
While at Latham, Fietta helped Croatia defeat an €80 million investment treaty claim by an Austrian casino operator. He has also helped Colombia settle a dispute with Ecuador at the International Court of Justice over aerial herbicide spraying.
The new firm already has a handful of active treaty claims on its books. One brought over from Volterra Fietta is an ICSID claim against Cyprus filed by 676 Greek depositors and bondholders affected by the 2013 Cypriot financial bailout.
Fietta is also acting (alongside Linklaters) for a central European private equity fund in a US$600 million claim against Poland at the SCC over the expropriation of shares in a bank; and for banking investors in an ICSID claim against Ukraine.
Members of the firm helped to set up a new group for young public international law practitioners, which held its first event in the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office’s premises in 2016.