A US firm that handles political risk alongside the usual commercial and investor-state offering
|Pending cases as counsel||21|
|Value of pending counsel work||US$8 billion|
|Current arbitrator appointments||2 (of which 1 are as sole or chair)|
|Lawyers sitting as arbitrator||2|
Like many US firms, Paul Hastings’ international arbitration-related work has several pillars: commercial arbitration, investor-state disputes and enforcement of awards. Unlike most, it also advises on political risk insurance and trade credit insurance. The firm has played a role in several treaty claims against Latin American states on behalf of the claimants’ insurers.
The West Coast firm’s arbitration practice took off in 2003 with the hire of Christopher Dugan from Jones Day. Dugan was a pioneer in NAFTA work, representing Canadian claimants Methanex and the Loewen Group in two groundbreaking cases against the US government. He headed the practice at Paul Hastings until his untimely death in 2012.
The practice expanded with the 2006 takeover of Dickinson Landmeier, a well-regarded DC boutique with a name in public international law. Today, those attorneys form the core of the practice.
Names to know in the Washington, DC office include Joseph Profaizer and Igor Timofeyev. A more recent arrival in New York is Camilo Cardozo, former co-chair of the US international arbitration group at DLA Piper, who joined in 2016.
The practice is centred in Washington, DC, but has partners in New York and Houston, as well as Milan, London and Paris. In addition, there are boots on the ground in Los Angeles, Chicago and Shanghai.
Who uses it?
Financial services clients of note include GE Capital, AIG, Société Générale and ACE Insurance. The US government’s political risk insurance arm, OPIC, and the World Bank’s Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency have turned to the firm for advice in recent years.
The firm also acts for Telecom Italia, the US’s Pacific Steel Projects and Global Gaming Asset Management, and Mexican steelmakers ADM and Grupo Simec.
Asia is an increasing source of work, with clients including Japan’s Marubeni Corporation, Mitsui Ocean Development & Engineering Co and Kobe Steel, Indonesia’s Cirebon Electric and South Korean chemicals group Lotte. Indian billionaire brothers Malvinder and Shivinder Mohan Singh used the firm for a post-M&A dispute with a Japanese partner heard in Singapore.
The firm has been advising the Philippines in a US$2.6 billion dispute over a contract to build a light rail network in Manila, and Rwanda in an ICC claim.
Paul Hastings helped Rwanda defeat an ICC claim brought by Scotland’s Dane Associates concerning a methane gas extraction and power generation project on Lake Kivu. A large portion of Dane’s €100 million claim was knocked out at the liability phase in 2014, with the tribunal dismissing the rest of the claims two years later.
Acting alongside Hughes Hubbard & Reed, the firm helped casino operator Global Gaming Asset Management prevail in a claim against the owner of a premier gaming resort in Manila. In 2016, the tribunal held the owner liable under a management agreement. A final damages hearing is set for early 2018.
Camilo Cardozo helped mining client CCX, part of Brazilian tycoon Eike Batista’s EBX Group, settle a US$125 million arbitration with Turkey’s Yildirim Holdings over the sale of coal assets in Colombia.
Going further back, Paul Hastings helped French bank Société Générale and two US subsidiaries pursue three interlocking arbitrations against the Dominican Republic over the privatisation of an electricity distributor. The dispute included one of the earliest DR-CAFTA cases, heard under UNCITRAL rules in The Hague, as well as an LCIA case under a bilateral investment treaty. After one of the claims cleared the jurisdictional stage, the state paid US$26 million to settle the case in 2009.
From 2003 to 2010, the firm coordinated multi-jurisdictional efforts to enforce a US$261 million award in favour of energy joint venture Karaha Bodas against Pertamina, Indonesia’s state-owned oil and gas company. The firm recovered some US$320 million for its client – the entire award plus accrued interest.
The firm has settled a number of cases for its political risk and trade credit insurance clients in recent years, resolving claims relating to Belizean sovereign bond defaults, political violence in Libyan oil fields, expropriations in Venezuela and financial defaults in Mexico, the Dominican Republic, and Saint Kitts and Nevis.
The firm has been acting for a Latin American state entity in a multibillion-dollar dispute over an oil refinery. It is also defending Chinese entities against a US$3 billion intellectual property claim by a technology company.
Partner Michelle Duncan in London left the firm for disputes boutique Joseph Hage Aaronson.
Yasushi Okubo of Kobe Steel says Profaizer and his team were “excellent” in their preparation and in hearings. The final award they secured gave Kobe 100% of what it wanted.
An energy client used the firm as sole counsel in a dispute with a seller in Italy involving allegations of fraud, which eventually settled. The firm’s advice was “efficient and pragmatic”, while partner Francesca Petronio was “very serious, professional and competent”.