The Lithuanian firm has delivered a win for Gazprom and is acting for Serbia
|People in Who’s Who Legal||1|
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|Value of pending counsel work||US$60 million|
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Founding partner Kazimieras Motieka has been practising law since 1959 – making Motieka & Audzevicˇius one of the longest operating law firms in Lithuania.
Following the arrival in 2003 of Ramunas Audzevicˇius – now co-head of dispute resolution – the firm began to focus on disputes arising out of foreign investment in new economies in the Baltic and CIS regions. The team is now recognised as the leading arbitration practice in Lithuania.
The other disputes co-head is Jovitas Elzbergas, who specialises in real estate and construction matters.
Based in the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius, the firm is part of the Hedman Group, a Baltic-leaning network including firms in Finland, Estonia and Latvia.
Who uses it?
Besides Gazprom, it has advised Italian drinks manufacturer Bosca, Serbian gas distributor Srbijagas and Russia’s Sberbank. It has acted for Italian, Danish and Lithuanian investors in bilateral investment treaty claims.
It has paired up with Lalive to represent a global engineering contractor and power equipment supplier in ICC disputes relating to a Baltic oil refinery.
The firm is increasingly active in sports arbitration cases, representing clients in Belarus, Russia and Switzerland.
The firm’s most spectacular results have been for Gazprom in a long-running dispute with Lithuania’s energy ministry over a privatised natural gas provider. As co-counsel with Dentons, it persuaded an SCC tribunal to throw out a US$2 billion claim that alleged the Russian state entity had unfairly raised gas prices (Shearman & Sterling were on the other side). Lithuania is challenging the award in the Swedish courts.
In an earlier phase of the dispute, Motieka & Audzevicˇius persuaded the Lithuanian Supreme Court to recognise a prior SCC award that had restrained the energy ministry from litigating some of its claims. That part of the case went all the way up to the European Court of Justice, leading to a landmark ruling that anti-suit injunctions issued by arbitral tribunals are compatible with EU law. The ECJ ruling was recognised at the GAR Awards as the most important decision of 2015.
Another case saw it represent Lithuania’s ICOR group in an SCC dispute that ended up before the Belarusian Supreme Court. While the amounts at stake were small, the firm impressively obtained a declaration from the Supreme Court accepting the concept of the assignment of an arbitration clause.
The firm is acting for Serbian energy company Srbijagas for multiple disputes with one of Lithuania’s largest companies, including proceedings to enforce four ICC and VIAC awards totalling €10 million. The client recently instructed it for a new claim, worth €50 million.
The Serbian government has also retained it to pursue enforcement of VIAC and Serbian arbitral awards against two major Lithuanian companies.
It is advising a Lithuanian client in a €7 million construction arbitration at the ICC. It has also representing Estonian and Russian parties in investment disputes with Lithuania, one of which has also given rise to a claim to the European Commission.
Barton Legum of Dentons Europe, who worked with with Motieka & Audzevicˇius on the Gazprom dispute, praises Audzevicˇius as “a brilliant strategist, very responsive, thoughtful and perfectly fluent in English and in Russian.”