The Freshfields breakaway firm in Moscow receives glowing testimonials from clients
|People in Who’s Who Legal||1|
|Pending cases as counsel||9|
|Value of pending counsel work||US$111.3 million|
|Current arbitrator appointments||0 (of which 0 are as sole or chair)|
|Lawyers sitting as arbitrator||0|
This Moscow boutique was set up in 2015 by Maxim Kulkov, a former counsel and head of the Russian disputes practice at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, and Oleg Kolotilov, who was a senior associate at the same firm. The two name partners were joined soon after by another Freshfields alumnus, Nikolay Pokryshkin.
The firm thinks its small size gives it greater flexibility. They only accept a limited number of cases, which have so far included matters at most of the leading international arbitration centres in Europe as well as the ICAC (the arbitration court attached to the Russian Chamber of Commerce). It highlights debt recovery and asset dissipation matters as among the firm’s strengths.
Kulkov is a member of the ICC commission on arbitration and the ICC Russia arbitration commission. He is also on the arbitrator lists of ICAC, SIAC, the Russian Arbitration Association and other institutions in Russia and Kyrgyzstan. He also helps promote mediation in Russia.
Who uses it?
Clients include US railcar leasing company GATX, Gazprom’s aviation fuel subsidiary Gazpromneft-Aero, Russian asset management group Alma, and a major international music company.
At Freshfields, Kulkov advised the likes of ING Bank, Brunswick Rail Leasing, Estée Lauder and Ikea. He also acted for a Russian state-owned corporation in several cases relating to an infrastructure project in Libya. Going further back, he successfully represented Dutch architect Erick van Egeraat in three cases against Russian real estate developers.
Meanwhile, Kolotilov has advised a Russian gas trader in an ICAC case against Georgia.
The firm helped Kyrgyz businessman Alexander Niazov prevail in an ICAC case against a Russian state-owned oil company in a post-M&A dispute relating to Kyrgyz oil companies, for which it drew praise from the client (see below).
KK&P represented a BVI company in an English-seated LCIA case against a large holding company over shareholdings in a major oil and gas producer.
The firm’s ongoing work includes an ICAC dispute over the construction of a Moscow shopping centre, and they are advising a leading potassium producer on an ICAC debt recovery claim.
Kulkov has been chairing a working group drafting amendments to Russia’s mediation law, alongside his role as director of the Mediation Resource Centre at the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs (RSPP).
Aleksandr Niazov says the KK&P partners are distinguished by their “bravery”, proving more willing to take on cases against major Russian state-owned companies than some of their local competitors. He says Kulkov and Pokryshkin are like “raging bulls” during hearings. Kulkov is “brilliant” at anticipating opponents’ arguments and interrogating the facts of a case “three times deeper than I could have imagined”. Pokryshkin is “sharp and creative” and “always considers all the possible options”.
He adds that, while “quite expensive”, KK&P charges much less than international law firms while providing the same quality. Niazov’s legal costs were recovered from the respondent in his case.
From the legal department of Zarubezhstroytechnology (ZST), a subsidiary of state-owned transport company Russian Railways, Yulia Chernook used the firm for two ICAC cases against an Austrian contractor and related enforcement proceedings. She says KK&P provides a “deep, thoughtful, scrupulous approach” and a “matter of fact, proactive attitude”. Kulkov is a “man of great abilities” with an “encyclopaedic knowledge in the fields of Russian civil law and private international law”.
Stuart Dutson, head of international arbitration at Simmons & Simmons in London, co-counselled with Kulkov on a banking dispute at the LCIA with Russian, UK and Israeli angles. He calls Kulkov a “brilliant legal scholar with the delivery of a prize heavyweight boxer”.
KK&P's partners have over 23 years’ experience in complex arbitration and litigation, and the firm focuses exclusively on complicated commercial disputes. KK&P is ranked among the five best Russian law firms handling complex dispute resolution cases (Chambers Europe 2018, Pravo.ru-300 2017 - Russia’s main domestic law firm ranking) and is the only Russian arbitration and litigation boutique recognised in a number of international directories simultaneously (including the GAR 100).
Having handled cases in 50 jurisdictions, the firm actively represents clients as counsel in all major arbitration institutions, including the ICAC, ICC, SCC, LCIA and VIAC, as well as in ad hoc arbitrations (for example, under UNCITRAL rules). KK&P comprises a team of international arbitration and litigation professionals with strong domestic expertise and long-term experience working in major international law firms. One of the firm’s associates is listed as an ICAC Case Reporter for international commercial disputes. With its global approach and capabilities, the firm is a very flexible local player free of the risks affecting larger firms.
KK&P’s smaller structure, which enables it to achieve greater flexibility in staffing and pricing and avoid conflicts of interest, has proved successful. The firm’s portfolio includes defending Ukraine in a prominent investment dispute initiated by Tatneft, litigation with the Russian President’s Affairs Department and major Russian companies. With KK&P, clients benefit from a dedicated and focused team with a partner’s active involvement from start to finish.
KK&P only accepts a limited number of engagements to make sure that the firm’s clients benefit from a service consistent with the highest standards of the profession. This puts KK&P ahead of other firms insofar as it is smaller and more flexible and can offer a greater variety of alternative billing arrangements (including a success fee or flat fee, hourly rates or a monthly cap).
The firm is led by one of the best-known Russian international arbitration and litigation lawyers, Maxim Kulkov. Maxim is a listed arbitrator at the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC), and the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs (RSPP) Arbitration Centre. Having already considered over 40 cases in different roles (co-arbitrator, sole arbitrator, and presiding arbitrator), Maxim Kulkov regularly receives instructions to act as arbitrator and counsel. Maxim also acts as an expert on Russian law in foreign arbitral and litigation proceedings.
Maxim is a member of the ICC Commission on Arbitration and ADR, the ICC Russia Arbitration Commission, the ICC Russia Commission on Intellectual Property, and the Committee on Appointments of the ICC Russia Arbitration Commission (Deputy Chairman). He is Director of the Mediation Resource Centre at the RSPP.
Maxim’s co-partners, Oleg Kolotilov and Nikolay Pokryshkin, each play a crucial role in the firm’s overall arbitration and litigation success. Oleg has 14 years' experience advising and representing Russian and international clients in complex multi-jurisdictional disputes, cross-border and international litigation and arbitral proceedings in Italy, Belgium, France, Austria, Ireland and other jurisdictions. Nikolay, whose leadership of the firm’s insolvency practice has resulted in its rapid growth, is highly experienced in matters concerning recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments and arbitral awards, as well as in obtaining interim relief measures and coordinating foreign proceedings. Nikolay is a member of the International Arbitration Court at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Kyrgyz Republic (IAC CCI).
All KK&P’s partners and many of the firm’s associates are members of the Moscow Region Bar.
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