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GAR 100 - 11th Edition

Țuca Zbârcea & Asociații

04 April 2018

After defending Romania in multiple ICSID cases, the Bucharest firm is now acting for an investor against the government

Pending cases as counsel 5
Value of pending counsel work US$4.9 billion
Treaty cases 1
Current arbitrator appointments
6 (of which 1 is 
as sole or chair)
Lawyers sitting as arbitrator 1

Țuca Zbârcea & Asociatii was formed in 2005 when a group of 20 lawyers – including disputes partners Florentin Țuca and Cornel Popa – broke away from a leading Romanian firm, Musat & Asociatii. While at Musat, Țuca and Popa teamed up with White & Case to defend Romania in its first ever ICSID case – a US$447 million claim by US investor Noble Ventures over a privatised steel mill, which ended in a victory for the state.

The spin-off firm has gone on to successfully defend Romania in three other ICSID cases, variously teaming up with White & Case and Freshfields on those matters. In all, it reckons to have contributed to the dismissal of claims against the state totalling US$745 million. More recently, the firm has changed sides, accepting an instruction from a mining investor in an ICSID claim against the government.

The international arbitration practice is co-led by Popa and partner Levana Zigmund. Popa is a member of the board of the Romanian Chamber of Commerce’s arbitration court and also features on its arbitrator roster. Țuca, a managing partner at the firm, is also a member of the IBA arbitration committee.

The team also includes Anca Puscasu, who was promoted to partner in 2016.

The firm picked up an award at the GAR Awards in Paris in 2014 for “best boutique or regional practice”.

Who uses it?

Besides Romania, the firm’s clients have included Canada’s Gabriel Resources; Luxembourg steelmaker ArcelorMittal; Romanian consultancy Paz Management Group; and Sweden’s Ericsson.

Track record

The firm’s track record on behalf of Romania is nothing short of excellent. In 2009, it helped the state defeat a US$110 million claim by Eastern Duty Free (EDF) and win US$6 million towards its costs. White & Case was co-counsel on the case, which involved allegations of bribery against Romanian officials. The same two firms defended the state against a US$150 million claim by S&T Oil at ICSID, which was discontinued.

In 2013, together with Freshfields, it persuaded an ICSID panel to refuse jurisdiction over a €28 million treaty claim lodged against Romania by two Turkish businessmen.

On the commercial side of the practice, it has represented Siemens in multiple ICC arbitration relating to a major Romanian project in transport infrastructure.

Recent events

The firm has reunited with White & Case at ICSID – this time to bring a claim against Romania. The co-counsel team is representing Canada’s Gabriel Resources in a US$4.3 billion ICSID claim over the expropriation of one of the largest gold and silver mines in Europe.

Client comment

A US lawyer who has worked with the firm on five arbitrations over the years says that “Levana Zigmund is among the finest lawyers I have ever worked with anywhere in the world. She has a scholar’s understanding of the law, has a strong sense of strategy, is precise and is an energetic advocate.”

Madalina Buzan, general counsel at Siemens Romania, says: “They are all very professional lawyers as well as very business oriented and they managed to provide a quality service to us.”

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