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GAR 100 - 11th Edition

Akinci Law Office

04 April 2018

Helped a Turkish client win against Kazakhstan at ICSID

People in Who’s Who Legal 2
Pending cases as counsel 23
Value of pending counsel work
US$2.5 billion
Treaty cases 5
Current arbitrator appointments 11 (of which 2 are as sole or chair)
Lawyers sitting as arbitrator  1

Orhan Akinci established Akinci Law Office in Izmir in western Turkey in 1984. His son, Ziya Akinci, took over management of the firm in the 1990s and opened its doors to international work, moving the firm to Istanbul in 2003. Ziya Akinci is a member of the ICC Court, the LCIA and IBA. In 2015, he was appointed president of the newly created Istanbul Arbitration Centre (ISTAC).

Other names to know at the firm are Cemile Gökyayla, who has published widely on private international law; and Karen Akinci, who is an accredited mediator.

Who uses it?

Akıncı and his team reckon to have been involved in some capacity in nearly all major ICC cases involving Turkish parties. A number of Turkish companies have turned to the firm for commercial work or treaty claims against Central Asian and Middle Eastern states. Clients span the construction, energy, telecoms, hospitality and pharmaceuticals sectors.

Turkish conglomerate Çukurova used it in a battle with Scandinavian phone operator TeliaSonera over control of a mobile operator, Turkcell. The firm has also advised the governments of Turkey and Romania, as well as the European Union.

Track record

In 2011, the firm helped Turkish construction group Tubin win an ICC award worth US$60 million against German corporation Bilfinger Berger relating to a highway project in Qatar. The award was declared enforceable by the Qatari courts.

In the investment treaty arena, the firm helped another local construction client, Sistem Mühendislik, win a US$9 million ICSID award against Kyrgyzstan in 2009 that is still the subject of enforcement proceedings in Canada.

The firm secured an important jurisdictional win in another case in 2015, persuading an ICSID tribunal that the Turkey-Turkmenistan bilateral investment treaty does not require investors to pursue local litigation before turning to arbitration. The ruling departed from an earlier tribunal’s reading of the same treaty provision.

Recent events

Together with GAR 100 firm Derains & Gharavi in Paris, Akinci helped Turkish energy company Aktau Petrol win nearly US$25 million in an ICSID claim against Kazakhstan in November 2017. The tribunal upheld claims concerning the seizure of the claimant’s investments at a port on the Caspian Sea through the “executive action” of court bailiffs that went uncorrected by the courts.

The same pairing of law firms is also acting for Turkish construction client Attila Dogan in an ICSID claim against Oman lodged in 2016; and defending Romania against a US$200 million ICSID claim brought an investment vehicle linked to deceased insurance magnate Dan Adamescu.

In the past year, Akinci initiated a US$300 million UNCITRAL claim and picked up a new instruction to represent a leading Turkish mining company in a pair of ICC cases. It also filed a US$50 million DIAC case.

Before the Turkish courts, it successfully annulled a US$30 million award against its client; and helped thwart the enforcement of a US$200 million ICC award (a case now before Turkey’s Court of Cassation). It is meanwhile helping a petroleum company to enforce a US$2 billion arbitral award in Turkey.

Ziya Akinci sat as arbitrator on 12 tribunals in the past year, as well as on dispute adjudication boards for three construction projects.

Client comment

Alev, a Turkish distributor of rubber products, turned to Akinci for an ICC claim against a Brazilian manufacturer after becoming disillusioned with two previous law firms. Company owner Coskun Alev tells GAR he would “warmly recommend” the firm. He was particularly impressed by the dedication of Ziya Akinci and Cemile Gökyayla, who obtained a favourable award that allowed the company to revive its operations.

Member companies of Turkey’s Çukurova Group also recommend the firm. Türsen Demir, general manager of the group’s chemicals division, Çukurova Kimya, praises Akinci’s witness preparation and cross-examination skills, and says that the company received “value for money”.

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