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GAR 100 - 11th Edition

Bryan Cave

04 April 2018

Helped the Dominican Republic see off a treaty claim

People in Who’s Who Legal 1
People in Future Leaders 3
Pending cases as counsel 25
Value of pending counsel work
US$3 billion
Treaty cases 1
Current arbitrator appointments 2 (of which 1 are as sole or chair)
Lawyers sitting as arbitrator 2

Founded over 140 years ago in Missouri, Bryan Cave first established an international arbitration practice when it opened the London office in the 1980s – its first base outside the US. The practice focused initially on commercial arbitration, but this changed after the firm was engaged by Kuwait and Saudi Arabia to bring claims before the UN Compensation Commission for damage caused by the First Gulf War in the early 1990s.

The practice group, led by London-based Mathew Rea and Pedro Martinez-Fraga in Miami, covers diverse work from London shipping arbitrations to Latin American investment disputes. Martinez-Fraga was one of President Obama’s appointees to the ICSID panel of conciliators in 2016.

Commercial arbitration remains a strong area, particularly in London. Counsel Emma Lindsay in the New York office advises on territorial and maritime claims in the South China Sea and also leads Bryan Cave’s pro bono work in cases before international human rights bodies.

Network

The firm has 26 offices, with seven based outside the US. London remains the hub of the firm’s commercial arbitration work and the base of operations for its CIS practice. The firm opened the Miami office in 2014, headed by former DLA Piper partners Martinez-Fraga and Ryan Reetz. There are other arbitration practitioners based in Washington DC, New York, Denver, Hamburg and Hong Kong.

Who uses it?

The firm is widely used by corporations and high-net-worth individuals linked to the CIS region, including Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska. Global technology company Emerson is among its clients.

On the government side, the Dominican Republic and Equatorial Guinea are on record as having used the firm.

Track record

Bryan Cave helped Deripaska to settle an LCIA dispute over supply contracts worth US$48 billion for his aluminium company Rusal in 2014 – one of the largest Russia-related disputes ever to be heard in London.

Recent events

For the Dominican Republic, the firm secured the withdrawal of a bilateral investment treaty claim lodged by a Panamanian real estate investor, Silverton Finance. An UNCITRAL tribunal also awarded the state costs against the claimant, who argued it was financially unviable to pursue the arbitration in two languages.

A US$400 million claim that the firm brought on behalf of Barbadian trust manager Blue Bank against Venezuela was less successful, with an ICSID tribunal ruling that the treaty in question did not protect a trustee that lacked ownership rights in the disputed assets. A different firm is now acting for Blue Bank in its efforts to annul the award.

The firm successfully challenged a London Maritime Arbitrators Association award of US$1.7 million against Sino Channel Asia in 2016 on the ground that its client had not been properly notified. An appeal is pending.

In another matter, the firm convinced an English court to set aside an HKIAC award in a rare use of provisions in the English Arbitration Act that allow non-participating parties to apply for set-aside.

Florida-based loan services company Bayview instructed the firm for a US lawsuit against an allegedly “sham” dispute resolution centre called the “International Court of Commerce”. The lawsuit came after the institution purported to register a claim brought against the company a former mortgage broker, Randal Thomas Rosado.

Italian practitioner Domenico Di Pietro joined the firm as counsel in London. He previously worked at Freshfields in Milan, as well as Mayer Brown in London and as in-house counsel at Marubeni Corporation in Tokyo.

Client comment

Angela Ford at MR Resources praised the firm’s “quick turnaround times, combined with excellent levels of service and correct advice”.

Michael Keating from Emerson gave the Bryan Cave team “his highest recommendations”, describing its lawyers as “superb in both their duties as legal counsel and their practical recommendations”.

Alexander Nikiforov of Gazprom used Bryan Cave for a US litigation against a private contractor in Venezuela and says Martinez-Fraga and his team have “absolutely proven their exceptional reputation in the legal market.”

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