Brought ICC cases against Libya worth US$1.4 billion
|People in Who’s Who Legal||2|
|Pending cases as counsel||110|
|Value of pending counsel work||US$26.7 billion|
|Current arbitrator appointments||
18 (of which 7 are
as sole or chair)
|Lawyers sitting as arbitrator||7|
K&L Gates is the product of a complicated series of mergers: East Coast firm Kirkpatrick & Lockhart absorbed UK practice Nicholson Graham & Jones in 2005, then fused with Seattle-based firm Preston Gates & Ellis two years later, before going on to merge with three other firms in Texas, North Carolina and Chicago. In 2013, the firm merged again, with Australia’s Middletons – making it the largest US firm in the Asia-Pacific region.
The arbitration practice of the legacy firms focused on construction and insurance matters but the merged practice widened its scope with some high-profile lateral hires, including former Eversheds partner Louis Degos; and Raja Bose in Singapore, who came on board after 10 years at Watson Farley & Williams to head the Asia practice.
K&L Gates’ practice expanded further with the acquisition of Hogan & Hartson’s Warsaw office ahead of that firm’s merger with Lovells (including a strong team of arbitration specialists led by Maciej Jamka), and the addition of a team from Clifford Chance in Tokyo. The Middletons merger also provided dispute resolution lawyers in Melbourne, Sydney and Perth.
The practice now comprises more than 100 lawyers.
The arbitration practice has people in 22 offices – including London, Paris, Warsaw, Milan, Frankfurt, Dubai, Doha, Hong Kong, Melbourne, Perth and Taipei. There are boots on the ground in seven US cities including New York, Miami and Houston. The wider firm has 46 offices across five continents.
Who uses it?
Poland, Germany and the Netherlands have been government clients on investment treaty matters, while Spain and France have turned to it for arbitration-related court work concerning liability for a massive oil spill. The firm has also advised ICSID claimants including German airport operator Fraport against the Philippines.
In the commercial sphere, multinationals that have used the firm include Alcoa; Deere & Company; DuPont; Duke Energy; Fujifilm America; Goldman Sachs; Honeywell International; TeliaSonera; Siemens; Vodafone; Orange; and World Wrestling Entertainment.
Other clients include Murphy Oil in an insurance coverage dispute arising out of damage by Hurricane Katrina; Warner Bros; and the West Indies Cricket Board in a fast-track LCIA arbitration with Digicel relating to a Twenty20 cricket tournament.
There have been some good results for the firm’s client Poland at ICSID. In 2015, it won the dismissal of a US$185 million claim by US investors who accused Polish authorities of driving their vegetable oil business into bankruptcy – also obtaining nearly US$3 million towards the state’s costs. The year before, it saw off a US$35 million claim over the failed development of a blood plasma laboratory.
On the investor side, it helped US border security company Rapiscan settle a US$359 million ICC claim against Albania in 2015, over a concession to tackle the problem of smuggling and people trafficking. The settlement was embodied in Albanian legislation.
In 2009, K&L Gates helped Belgium’s Transcor Astra Group win US$640 million against the US arm of Brazil’s Petrobras in a dispute over put options – and went on to get the award enforced in a US court. Astra eventually agreed a US$820 million settlement with Petrobras in 2012.
In the same year, Jennifer Coughlin in the Anchorage office helped the US state of Alaska secure a US$245 million award against BP in compensation for delayed oil production as a result of two oil spills in the North Slope region.
In another case, it helped a US agricultural equipment manufacturer win US$320 million in an ICC case against an Asian distributor.
Four new arbitration partners arrived in early 2018. Luca Sommariva joined from Italian firm Gattai Minoli Agostinelli & Partners, with plans to divide his time between London and Milan. Jeremy Farr, Charles Lockwood and Clare Kempkens all joined the London office from Ince & Co.
The previous year Clarissa Coleman joined the firm as partner in London from Addleshaw Goddard, bringing a US$100 million construction dispute with her.
Another London-based partner, John Gilbert, left to join US firm Bracewell’s new international disputes practice. Rabih Tabbara, a partner in Dubai, left for DWF.
Partners Abe Moore and Desiree Moore relocated to Chicago from Doha. In the Dubai office, Monique O’Donoghue was promoted to of counsel and Jennifer Paterson to counsel.
Louis Degos represented subsidiaries of Emirati investment group Al Ghurair in a pair of ICC arbitrations against Libya’s National Oil Corporation with a combined value of US$1.4 billion. The monetary claims in both cases were dismissed, with NOC prevailing on a US$116 million counterclaim in one case. They related to Libya’s largest oil refinery in the city of Ra’s Lanuf.
Degos was also involved in a potentially ground-breaking decision by a Paris court which held that a non-party to an arbitration could partially challenge the enforcement of a foreign award to preserve its rights of due process and access to justice.
The firm is acting for a subsidiary of China’s national oil company in a US$50 million New York-seated ICDR arbitration in relation to a joint operating agreement for an Indonesian oil block.
A well-known Central European oil refiner has been using the firm’s Warsaw office for an US$80 million dispute and says the team “provides a first-class service within budget and in a timely manner.” Partner Maciej Jamka has great knowledge and experience, as well as an ability to stay one step ahead of opposing counsel. Associate Maciej Antoniak is also praised as “proactive”.
A subsidiary of Polish state-controlled oil and gas company PGNiG used the firm for a dispute with a insurer at the Polish Chamber of Commerce and commends the “precise and goal-oriented” pleadings of partner Wojciech Sadowski.
The director of a Middle Eastern infrastructure company is using the firm for a dispute with a client in the region that is “vital for the company”. He is particularly satisfied with K&L Gates’ ethics following a bad experience with another firm, and says partner Abe Moore is very respectful with clients.