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GAR 100 - 11th Edition

Leaua & Asociatii

05 April 2018

Teaming again with Lalive to defend the Romanian government in weighty investor-state claimsBottom of Form

People in Who’s Who Legal 1
People in Future Leaders 1
Pending cases as counsel 17
Value of pending counsel work US$8.2 billion
Treaty cases 3
Current arbitrator appointments 6 (of which 4 are as sole or chair)
Lawyers sitting as arbitrator 2

This highly regarded Romanian firm was set up in 2005 as an arbitration boutique – then called Leaua & Cadar – headed by Crenguta Leaua. She is a former vice president of ICC Romania and has been a vice president of the ICC Court since 2015.

Less than a year after it was launched, the firm defended the Romanian government in an ICSID case alongside Swiss firm Lalive, a collaboration that has continued. The firm is acting for Romania in three pending investment treaty arbitrations, others having successfully concluded.

Apart from investment treaty matters, Leaua & Asociatii’s arbitration practice these days spans environmental and energy-based disputes, construction, infrastructure and public law, as well as intellectual property and tax areas.

Several of its lawyers are listed as arbitrators in various arbitral centres in Romania and abroad, while the firm’s senior partner, Stefan Deaconu, was appointed president of the arbitration court at Romania’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry in 2015.

Who uses it?

Romania is a regular client at ICSID, while its ministry of public finances, a state-owned hydropower company and a state-owned road company have used it in some ICC matters.

Private clients in ICC cases include telecoms operator UTI Systems, and US engineering and construction company Louis Berger.

Track record

In 2013, Leaua & Asociatii and Lalive succeeded in knocking out a US$139 million ICSID claim brought against Romania by a Dutch investor in the Rompetrol oil refinery business. The tribunal declined to award any damages even though it found irregularities in the state’s conduct of a criminal investigation.

Two years later, the same co-counsel team defeated the bulk of a €440 million ICSID claim brought against Romania by US citizen Hassan Awdi and his companies concerning an investment in a press distribution business and a boutique hotel. The tribunal awarded the claimants only €8 million plus costs.

The firm has successfully defended a Bulgarian client against a claim by a French-owned company heard in Vienna, which related to the client’s alleged failure to comply with antitrust aspects of an M&A deal; and won an ICC case for Israel’s Poldmir Construction against a Romanian state rail company.

Leau & Asociatii has also helped Italian clients defeat a claim by a Romanian party for consultancy fees in the form of a 35% stake in a major steel company in Romania.

Recent events

The firm continues to work with Lalive to defend Romania in two ICSID cases – a US$4.4 billion claim brought by Canadian gold mining company Gabriel Resources; and a claim filed by Sweden’s Micula brothers over Romania’s alleged failure to police the alcohol black market.

It acted for Romania’s largest hydropower generation company in two ICC cases. In the first, it defeated an US$11.5 million claim by a Swiss contractor concerning the upgrade of a hydro plant. In the second, it defeated a German company’s request for conservatory measures to prevent the cashing of bank guarantees worth US$9 million, before helping the parties reach a settlement.

Another win was for a Romanian businessperson, for whom it won the early dismissal of a US$11 million ICC claim on juris­dictional grounds.

Pending cases include an ICC claim brought on behalf of a Romanian contractor against a Yemeni respondent over the construction of a hospital. The client has already prevailed on preliminary issues.

Client comment

Remus Borza, from Romanian insolvency firm Euro Insol, tells that Leaua & Asociatii produced “quality” work and “definitely led the hearing” in a case where the firm represented an insolvent client of his. “Whereas the other party’s attorneys and experts were inconsistent in their declarations and inappropriately ill-tempered, the team from Leaua acted totally professionally and was well prepared for all the key points of the case,” he says.

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