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|
|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.
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.
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.
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.”
Țuca Zbârcea & Asociații is a full-service independent law firm, being currently perceived as one of the largest and best-established in the Romanian legal market. To date, it employs more than 185 cross-disciplinary teams of lawyers, insolvency practitioners, tax consultants, IP counsellors, economists and staff members. It also operates a secondary law office in Cluj-Napoca (Romania), a representative office in Madrid (Spain) and has a “best-friend” agreement with a leading law firm in the Republic of Moldova. In addition, thanks to the firm’s dedicated Foreign Desks, the team is able to provide the full range of services to Israeli and Chinese investors seeking to gain a foothold or expand their existing operations in Romania. Țuca Zbârcea & Asociații advises local and international companies, prominent financial institutions, public authorities and governmental institutions on virtually all types of legal, tax and similar matters affecting their operations locally.
The firm’s International Arbitration (IA) practice is part of a wider Dispute Resolution team which currently comprises 45 lawyers. The IA group consists of lawyers with almost 25 years of practical expertise who share a common professional background and history, as they worked together in a different law firm for many years. The firm’s lawyers have dealt with complex disputes arising out of privatisation procedures and agreements, contracting works and construction agreements, airport commercial services, public and private property, chartering services, as well as corporate issues. The team has an in-depth working knowledge of various arbitration procedural rules such as ICC, ICSID, GAFTA, the Romanian International Chamber of Commerce and UNCITRAL. In particular, the firm’s lawyers in the IA team are recognised for their impressive capabilities and track record of success in handling disputes flowing from breaches of bilateral investment protection treaties. The firm’s main work contacts in this area are: Dr. Florentin Ţuca (Managing Partner), Cornel Popa (Partner), Levana Zigmund (Partner) and Anca Pușcașu (Partner).
Ţuca Zbârcea & Asociaţii
4-8 Nicolae Titulescu Ave., America House, West Wing, 8th Floor
Sector 1, 011141
Phone: +40 21 204 88 90
Fax: +40 21 204 88 99