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GAR 100 - 11th Edition

ArbLit – Radicati di Brozolo Sabatini Benedettelli

04 April 2018

Won a challenge against an Italian arbitrator accused of corruption

People in Who’s Who Legal 3
People in Future Leaders 2
Pending cases as counsel 11
Value of pending counsel work
US$500 million
Treaty cases 6
Current arbitrator appointments 19 (of which 9 are as sole or chair)
Lawyers sitting as arbitrator 2

ArbLit was launched by Luca Radicati di Brozolo and Michele Sabatini after they broke away from leading Italian firm Bonelli Erede Pappalardo in 2013. The Milan-based outfit made its debut in the GAR 100 in 2015 and was recognised at the GAR Awards in the same year.

A well-known name in Italy, Radicati di Brozolo is also highly regarded for his expertise in EU and antitrust law, and was head of the competition department at Italy’s Chiomenti Studio Legale in the 1990s, when he also headed the firm’s Brussels office. He joined Bonelli in 2001, later heading its London disputes desk. Also a door tenant at Fountain Court Chambers in London, he has sat as arbitrator at the ICC and LCIA, as well as the Milan Chamber of Arbitration and the Geneva Chamber of Commerce and Industry. In addition, he is chair of private international law at the Catholic University of Milan and a former vice chair of the International Bar Association’s arbitration committee.

Sabatini, who was a senior associate at Bonelli and joined ArbLit as partner, also sits as arbitrator in ICC cases and the Milan chamber. He is a member of the Milan and New York bars, and has particular expertise in FIDIC disputes. The other name partner is Massimo Benedettelli, who joined in 2014 from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer in Milan and is also an arbitrator and professor of international law.

A fourth partner, Marco Torsello, was promoted in 2017. He had been of counsel at the firm since 2014 and heads the Italian litigation team.

Who uses it?

Telecom Italia, Enel, Tenova and Finmeccanica are among the firm’s major Italian clients, while international names that have used it include BNP Paribas, Deutsche Bank and steelmaker Thyssenkrupp.

In the investment treaty sphere, it is representing a group of European energy investors in six UNCITRAL claims against the Czech Republic relating to reforms to the country’s solar power sector. ArbLit was brought in by the claimants to replace another firm.

Track record

Together with Quinn Emanuel, ArbLit helped US insurer AmTrust settle a €3 billion dispute with its former Italian business partner in 2016, after winning the disqualification of an arbitrator accused of taking a bribe. Italy’s Supreme Court upheld the challenge in September 2017. The firm continues to represent AmTrust in Italian litigation against the recused arbitrator, who denies the bribery allegations.

A team led by Benedettelli scored a victory for Telecom Italia’s Brazilian unit TIM in 2016, helping it defeat a US$150 million ICC claim that concerned allegations of fraud. The dispute related to a merger deal with a prominent Rio de Janeiro businessman.

In the same year, Radicati di Brozolo helped Italian engineering client Consta win a €20 million award against the governments of Djibouti and Ethiopia. The dispute, heard under European Development Fund rules, concerned a deal to renovate a railway between the two states’ capitals. The award is being challenged in the Ethiopian courts.

In 2013 and 2015, the firm won favourable jurisdictional rulings in two trailblazing ICSID cases against Argentina, brought on behalf of Italian bondholders affected by the state’s debt default. Although the two cases were later discontinued, the decisions will stand as valuable precedents for future treaty claims over sovereign debt.

Recent events

The firm’s six solar claims against the Czech Republic had hearings in The Hague, with final awards expected in early 2018.

ArbLit was also retained by Italian engineering company Tecnimont for the latest stage of a long-running ICC arbitration against J&P Avax over the construction of a plastics plant in Greece. Avax seeks the revision of a partial award on liability on grounds of fraud.

Client comment

Fabio Incutti, chief legal officer of Italian tyre company Prometeon, says that Benedettelli and associate Fabio Santacroce distinguished themselves in an M&A dispute, proving themselves “able to quickly master all the documents” in the case.

Luigi Patanè, a former CEO of Consta, describes the team as “a very good mix between experience and dynamism”. The firm’s small size guarantees “easy and direct contact” with the partners managing the case, he adds.

Frank Schulte, a member of the group of solar investors suing the Czech Republic, describes Radicati di Brozolo and Sabatini as “excellent lawyers” whose in-depth involvement in the case “really makes them superior”. He adds that while the firm is small, it performs “like a big law firm”.

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