• Search

GAR 100 - 11th Edition

Obeid Law Firm

05 April 2018

The Lebanese firm is home to the president of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators

People in Who’s Who Legal 2

Nayla Comair-Obeid founded the firm in Beirut in 1987. Both firm and founder have since played a significant role in the development of arbitration in Lebanon and the Middle East – preparing the first draft of the current Lebanese arbitration law and the Arabic versions of the IBA guidelines and ICC rules, for example.

A professor at the Lebanese Judicial Institute and Lebanese University and visiting professor at the University of Paris (Panthéon-Assas), Comair-Obeid has trained lawyers and judges across the Middle East about arbitration. Indeed, she claims responsibility for “an arbitration awareness campaign” across the country and the rise in undergraduate conferences devoted to the field.

She has also played an active role in the international arbitration community, serving on the board of Cairo’s arbitration centre and as vice chair of the IBA arbitration committee, and becoming president of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators in 2017.

Nowadays, Nayla is not the only Obeid on the scene. Her son Ziad joined the firm in 2011 after training as a civil engineer and practising at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer in Paris and Dubai. He specialises in construction disputes and sits as an arbitrator.

Daughter Zeina Obeid is also now an associate at the firm, having completed her PhD at University Paris II Panthéon-Assas on the set aside of awards in Arab countries.

Who uses it?

The firm doesn’t like to name clients but the list is thought to include a number of Middle Eastern states and government entities as well as large companies from the region, in addition to some well-known international oil companies.

Track record

In recent times, it’s represented a Qatari-Saudi engineering contractor in a U$53 million dispute with a German multinational over a power utility, which was heard under ICC rules in Geneva and handled an ICC case against a German-Italian conglomerate over a steel bar mill in Qatar.

It’s also acted for a multinational on a dispute over a plant in Syria and advised on worldwide injunctions in support of a multibillion-dollar LCIA case.

In the courts, it’s acted for Kuwaiti Airlines in annulment proceedings.

The firm has a track record of co-counselling with international firms – including Freshfields – and acting in Lebanese court proceedings relating to international arbitration. For example, it acted for Turkey in an action relating to the US$10 billion Libananco case at ICSID (in which Freshfields was counsel for the state). Comair-Obeid also appears as an expert on Middle Eastern law in international arbitrations – for instance, on Qatari law in an ad hoc dispute between an international security consultancy firm and its local partner.

It also acted for a Saudi investor against one of the largest Saudi construction companies in a complex high-value construction dispute involving a series of landmark projects in Lebanon.

Comair-Obeid is also well known for her arbitrator work. She issued a US$23 million award in a construction dispute between a Bahraini contractor and a UAE family that was enforced in London in 2012. She is a member of the ICSID panel of arbitrators.

Recent events

Comair-Obeid became the first woman from the Middle East to take the presidency of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators. Director general of the CIArb Anthony Abrahams described her as a “tsunami” in that role, raising membership of the institute to 16,000 and overseeing three important conferences on common law and civil approaches to international arbitration, held in Dubai, Johannesburg and Paris.

At the last conference in Paris, Emmanuel Macron was even slated to attend and speak about his support for the French arbitration scene, but world politics and a presidential visit to Algeria prevented him.

Related articles

Insight

Reviews

Regional analysis from arbitrators around the globe, focussing on key developments in specific industry areas and jurisdictions.

Ear 2019 roi 1 230x67

The European Arbitration Review 2019

Highlights

Energy Arbitrations

Richard Power and Paul Baker

Clyde & Co LLP

Joint Venture Disputes

Daniel Greineder and Konstantin Christie

Peter & Partners