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GAR 100 - 11th Edition

Hogan Lovells

05 April 2018

Brought home wins for Venezuela and settled disputes for Samsung and Pemex

People in Who’s Who Legal 3
People in Future Leaders 8
Pending cases as counsel 132
Value of pending counsel work US$68.9 billion
Treaty cases 15
Current arbitrator appointments 33 (of which 19 are as sole or chair)
Lawyers sitting as arbitrator 13

The 2010 merger between Hogan & Hartson and Lovells brought together two big international arbitration practices with complementary geographical footprints. The merged group combined the strength of Lovells’ practice in Europe and Asia with Hogan & Hartson’s prominence in the Americas. Since then it has expanded, hiring a Latin America-focused team from Chadbourne & Parke in 2013 and tying up with a Mexican firm a year later. More recently it has been eyeing Africa-related work.

The combined practice was initially co-led by partners from the two legacy firms: Daniel González in Miami (from Hogan & Hartson) and Michael Davison in London (from Lovells). Davison stepped down from the role in 2013, and now serves as global head of litigation, arbitration and employment at the firm. His successor Simon Nesbitt (now QC) stepped down in 2014 ahead of his move to the bar, leaving González as sole practice head.

González set up an international arbitration steering committee formed of partners from various regions who coordinate client relationship management, lawyer training, staffing of major disputes and marketing. Its members include Karl Pörnbacher in Munich, Kieron O’Callaghan in London, Laurent Gouiffès in Paris, Luis Enrique Graham in Mexico City and Tim Hill in Hong Kong.

Other names to know are Samaa Haridi in New York, who joined from Weil, Gotshal & Manges in 2015 and has a focus on disputes emanating from the Middle East and North Africa; and Maurice Burke and Shaun Langhorne in Singapore, who joined a year earlier from Herbert Smith.

Network

Key offices for the arbitration group include London, Paris, Miami, Munich, New York, Singapore, Hong Kong and Washington, DC. There are other members based in Amsterdam, Madrid, Moscow, Milan, Dubai, Düsseldorf, Houston and Caracas, while tie-ups with local firms have given it a presence in Jakarta, Johannesburg and Mexico City. The firm also has strategic alliances in India, Mongolia and Saudi Arabia.

Who uses it?

Hogan Lovells is popular with governments, particularly for investment arbitration. The firm has acted for Venezuela, Vietnam, Mexico, Mongolia and Slovakia on high-profile cases, and is on China’s list of preferred counsel for investment treaty advice.

It’s also acted for state-owned energy companies such as Mexico’s Pemex,Venezuela’s PDVSA, Brazil’s Petrobras and Norway’s Statoil in commercial matters, while private energy clients include AES, Royal Dutch Shell, the UAE’s Crescent Petroleum, Enel, Eni, ExxonMobil and Iberdrola.

Other clients of note include Russia’s Alfa Group, Alstom, French insurer AXA, BHP Billiton, Bilfinger, BNP Paribas, Hard Rock, Hitachi, IBM, Samsung Engineering, Siemens, Suzuki, Vodafone, Ukrainian-born oligarchs Konstantin Grigorishin and Victor Pinchuk and the estate of Georgian billionaire Badri Patarkatsishvili.

Track record

One of Hogan Lovells’ most eye-catching victories came in 2015, when it helped Suzuki prevail in an ICC claim against Volkswagen over a troubled joint venture to market eco-friendly cars in Asia. The award required the German company to sell back its US$3.8 billion stake in Suzuki to the Japanese side. Hogan Lovells replaced Debevoise & Plimpton on the case when it was already under way.

Another great result was helping an international oil consortium led by Italy’s Eni win US$573 million in a tax dispute with Nigeria’s national oil company. The arbitration was seated in Nigeria and saw Hogan Lovells team up with local firm Aluko & Oyebode. Before the award could be issued, the team also had to overturn an injunction in the Nigerian courts.

Statoil used Hogan Lovells for an ICC claim against Algerian state entity Sonatrach, obtaining a US$536 million award in 2013. The firm then helped defend the award in the English Commercial Court.

More recently it helped Petrobras defeat a US$200 million ICC claim brought by a Brazilian contractor over a floating oil production unit, winning costs. For Vietnam, the firm has secured a hat-trick of defence wins in treaty cases. In 2014, it helped the state to defeat a US$3.75 billion claim by a US investor over a proposed tourism resort; and a US$47 million claim by a French investor in a dialysis clinic. In the following year, it knocked out a US$66 million claim by a French trader(the Swiss courts upheld the ruling in 2016).

Another defence win came in 2015 for Venezuela when an ICSID tribunal threw out a US$150 million claim by a Barbadian investor in the fertiliser industry. The panel concluded that the claimant didn’t own the shares in question at the time they were expropriated.

In the pre-merger days, Lovells’ win-sheet included a victory for SAB Miller and its Tanzanian subsidiary in an ICC arbitration arising from the breakdown of a joint venture with Diageo – referred to as the “African beer wars”. Lovells also helped to win a €29 million investment treaty award against Thailand on behalf of German construction company Walter Bau.

Recent events

Inken Knief in Munich and Jorge Valdés King in Mexico City were promoted to the partnership at the start of 2018, while Kate Wilford in London was made counsel. Angus Rankin, in-house counsel at Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems Europe, joined as partner in London.

Partner Terence Wong left the firm after 17 years to join Winston & Strawn in Shanghai, while counsel Michael Darowski moved to Gowling in London. Recently promoted counsel Andrew Mackenzie in Dubai moved to Baker McKenzie.

At ICSID, Hogan Lovells’ Paris office helped Samsung Engineering settle a claim against Oman relating to a tender for a US$12 billion project to upgrade an oil refinery.

The Paris and Caracas offices helped Venezuela cement its victory in an ICSID case brought by fertiliser investor Gambrinus Corporation, with an ad hoc committee dismissing the company’s application to revive its US$150 million claim and ordering it to pay the state’s costs.

The same offices helped Venezuela to reduce a US$500 million ICSID claim by an investor in a coffee business to a final award requiring the government to pay just US$42 million plus interest.

On the investor side, the firm won a €23 million ICSID award for French corporate services provider Edenred against Hungary over changes to legislation providing employees with fringe benefit vouchers. It is now defending the award in annulment proceedings.

Commercial arbitration work included defending German engineering group Bilfinger against a €150 million claim over the supply of tubing for a Finnish nuclear power plant. The claimant, a subsidiary of Swiss energy company Alpiq, won only €1.8 million and was ordered to pay €6.5 million towards Bilfinger’s costs.

Hogan Lovells helped Pemex settle a 13-year dispute with US engineering company KBR over the construction of two offshore gas platforms, with the state entity agreeing to pay US$435 million to honour an ICC award. The dispute spawned some landmark court rulings, with the Second Circuit in the US finding that the award could be enforced despite having been annulled at the seat of arbitration in Mexico; and the courts of Luxembourg taking the opposite view.

For long-term client AES, it settled an ICC claim it had brought against Fonper, a fund owned by the Dominican Republic, which was triggered by criminal proceedings launched against local executives.

On the litigation side of things, it helped Venezuela persuade the US Supreme Court to set a higher bar for companies seeking to bring expropriation claims against foreign states under US sovereign immunity legislation – knocking back a claim by Oklahoma drilling company Helmerich & Payne.

For IBM, it persuaded a US court to stay a multibillion-dollar lawsuit pending the outcome of an arbitration with Mexico’s Iusacell concerning an agreement for the provision of IT services.

The London office is defending companies linked to Konstantin Grigorishin in English proceedings to enforce a US$300 million LCIA award in favour of joint venture partner Vladimir Lukyanenko’s companies – which have given rise to a worldwide freezing order against the client.

It had success acting for Russia’s state-owned Deposit Insurance Agency in UK litigation against fugitive Russian banker Sergei Pugachev, winning permission to seize his assets after demonstrating that he had set up “sham” trusts to hide his control over them. The firm is not involved in a parallel treaty claim worth US$12 billion that Pugachev is pursuing against Russia.

New instructions came from Spanish company Lidercon, bringing an ICSID claim against Peru over a deal to carry out vehicle inspection services in Lima and Callao; and from Russian-owned company Penwell in a claim against Kyrgyzstan over a nationalised mobile operator.

The firm continues to defend Panama against a pair of treaty claims filed by US mining company Dominion Minerals; and Costa Rican and Dutch investors over the construction of a luxury ecotourism resort on the country’s Caribbean coast.

Client comment

Salvador Escalón, the Florida-based general counsel for telecoms group Millicom, used Hogan Lovells for two high-stakes cases in El Salvador. He says the firm’s lawyers “did an excellent job” and presented their case “in a clear and convincing manner”. Partners Daniel González, Richard Lorenzo and Maria Eugenia Ramirez in Miami succeeded in mastering “extremely technical” business details.

Another client told GAR: “Hogan Lovells produced some pleadings which blew the other side’s case away.” The client added: “They are on top of the details at all times with an experience that is extremely reassuring.”

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