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GAR 100 - 11th Edition

Linklaters

05 April 2018

Defeated a US$22 billion claim over a Russian oil deal

People in Who’s Who Legal 3
People in Future Leaders 6
Pending cases as counsel 73
Value of pending counsel work US$45.1 billion
Treaty cases 6
Current arbitrator appointments 21 (of which 6 are as sole or chair)
Lawyers sitting as arbitrator 11

Linklaters catapulted into the GAR 30 in 2015, having never featured in previous editions of the GAR 100, and now it’s a fixture.

The firm traces its roots to the 1830s and, like other Magic Circle firms, began to expand internationally in the mid-1990s. Several of the firm’s offices began to take on arbitration matters as an offshoot of their corporate work (a real estate dispute for the Hong Kong government around 2004 was thought to be the biggest local arbitration of its day), and the London office in particular gathered steam thanks to partners Greg Reid and Christopher Style QC (who left for One Essex Court in 2012).

For a long time, though, the firm resisted calls to establish a dedicated international arbitration practice, choosing rather to keep the group within the litigation practice. As a result, Linklaters was slow to be seen as a serious player in international arbitration circles, despite being involved in some big-ticket cases over the years and fielding many partners with arbitration experience in offices all over the world.

But a lot has changed in the past few years, beginning with the hire of a seriously impressive team in Paris from well-regarded Parisian boutique Darrois Villey Maillot Brochier in 2013. Matthieu de Boisséson and Pierre Duprey had built a reputation working on large construction cases, such as TML v Eurotunnel, and advised Danone in its famous SCC dispute with China’s Wahaha. The team brought with them some significant active cases. (De Boisséson retired from Linklaters in 2016 to become an independent arbitrator.)

At the same time, the Paris office recruited partner Roland Ziadé from Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton. He featured in GAR’s “45 under 45” survey of leading young practitioners in 2011 and has a large Middle Eastern component to his practice, having spent part of his time in Abu Dhabi.

The group’s momentum increased further with the hire of the well-known Matthew Weiniger QC from Herbert Smith Freehills, who now co-heads the practice with Pierre Duprey.

Network

The group’s centres of gravity are Paris and London, with other important offices in Amsterdam, Brussels, Frankfurt, Lisbon, Hong Kong and New York. There are also boots on the ground in Luxembourg, Madrid, Milan, Moscow, Munich, Stockholm, Warsaw, Washington, DC, and Singapore. The wider firm has 29 offices across Europe, the United States and Asia.

Who uses it?

A number of large multinationals have turned to the group over the years, including Anglo American, Areva, BAE, Bayer, BG Group, BP, Carlyle Group, Caterpillar, Deutsche Bank, Diageo, Disney, DP World, Electrabel, E.ON, Enel, Engie, Eni, Euromissile, France Télécom, Glencore, Lafarge Holcim, Renault, Royal Bank of Scotland, RWE and Total.

Linklaters is less frequently seen acting for states but one prominent government client is Germany in a pair of ad hoc arbitrations over a truck toll system worth a combined US$10 billion – thought to be the largest cases ever heard in the country.

Linklaters lawyers have acted for and against the Polish government in different investment treaty matters. Russia has used it for enforcement proceedings in the Luxembourg courts (the long-running Noga case). African state clients include Senegal, Gabon and the Republic of the Congo. It is also known to act for several NATO agencies.

Track record

The arbitration group’s most spectacular recent victory came in June 2017 when it helped Elf Neftegaz, a defunct subsidiary of French oil company Total, defeat a US$22.4 billion UNCITRAL claim brought by two Russian provinces. The eight-year arbitration was seated in Stockholm and gave rise to criminal proceedings against two of the original arbitrators. Mannheimer Swartling, Vinge and Darrois Villey co-counselled on the case.

As co-counsel with Quinn Emanuel, Ziadé led a team that helped port operator DP World defeat an LCIA claim brought by Djibouti. In 2017, a tribunal dismissed Djibouti’s allegations that DP World had paid bribes to procure a concession to operate Africa’s largest container terminal.

Anglo-Swiss commodities giant Glencore used the firm for a monumental LCIA case brought by Russia’s Sual Partners concerning supply contracts with Rusal worth US$48 billion, which settled on confidential terms in 2014. Another high-profile settlement was for Luxembourg satellite operator SES Astra in an ICC dispute with France’s Eutelsat over rights to an orbital position in outer space.

In 2010, Linklaters helped Polish telecoms operator Telekomunikacja Polska (now Orange Polska) resolve a €2.5 billion shareholder dispute with the Vivendi group, which played out in UNCITRAL proceedings in The Hague; the settlement resulted in the largest M&A transaction in Poland in that year.

Together with his former firm Herbert Smith Freehills, Weiniger helped Standard Chartered Bank win a US$148 million ICSID award against Tanzanian state power company Tanesco in 2016 after persuading the tribunal it had been misled by Tanesco earlier in the case.

Linklaters successfully advised Kuwait’s Independent Petroleum Group on the enforcement of a US$70 million ICC award against Eritrea.

Recent events

As co-counsel with London boutique Fietta, Linklaters helped secure a €176 million SCC award for a Central European private equity firm in a treaty claim against Poland. The case concerned the forced sale of the client’s stake in a bank.

Pierre Duprey defended Airbus in an ICC claim brought by Taiwan over its role in a 1990s arms deal, which ended with the client being ordered to pay €104 million.

The firm won an LCIA claim for a European bank against a Middle Eastern industrial company. In Lisbon it helped a water distributor defeat a €50 million claim by a local municipality.

It helped Canadian telecoms company Sierra Wireless win an ICC case against Nokia concerning patent issues still to be decided by courts in the EU.

In the English courts, the firm defeated a challenge against an LCIA award it won for Ukrainian real estate developer Arricano in 2016, granting the client a majority stake in a Kiev mall.

It defeated a Hong Kong court challenge to a US$100 million ICC award arising out of trading in Thailand and Cambodia.

Linklaters is helping a global resources company pursue a SIAC arbitration over an exclusive entitlement to natural resources in Indonesia, having won relief in an emergency arbitration to preserve the client’s assets.

It is pursuing a DIS case for an Asian infrastructure group over an M&A transaction.

Vladimir Melnikov joined from Herbert Smith Freehills to head the Moscow practice.

In Paris, the firm promoted Jean-Charles Jais to partner and Christian Albanesi to counsel, while counsel Patricia Peterson left to practise independently as an arbitrator. New York partner Paul Hessler retired from the practice.

Client comment

A client that uses the Lisbon office for patent disputes says the lawyers there “have the ability to think outside the box and they have actually created new laws within Portugal from some of the cases they have won. They are hardworking and creative – they notice stuff. They continue to find new routes to difficult questions”.

Another Portuguese client says the team led by Pedro Siza Vieira is “exquisite” and has a firm grasp of the business interests at stake.

Brazilian conglomerate Andrade Gutierrez used Linklaters in a shipping mediation that helped avoid a €65 million ICC case. In-house counsel Isadora Barreto said the firm’s global reach was a major asset. She calls Christian Albanesi “an exceptionally brilliant lawyer” because of his high quality work, eloquence and “devotion to us as clients”.

A Turkish energy company says the firm achieved “a very good result with a very high proportion of recovery” in a dispute over a joint venture agreement. London partner Greg Reid “was, as always, very polished and an outstanding technical lawyer”.

Alexandre Job, in-house counsel at Total, says Andrew Plump is “a powerful advocate, a strong oral litigator, and he never hesitates to be hands on”. Pierre Duprey. meanwhile, is “very clever at combining legal tactics with the clients’ interests, and always keeps a cool head”.

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