Won an ICC award against a Libyan authority for disruption caused by the country’s civil war
|Pending cases as counsel||21|
|Value of pending counsel work||US$4.1 billion|
|Third-party funded cases||2|
|Current arbitrator appointments||1 (0 as chair or sole)|
|Lawyers sitting as arbitrator||1|
A relatively recent addition to the GAR 100, this Palo Alto-headquartered firm has benefited from its proximity to Silicon Valley, developing an extensive practice representing blue-chip clients in high-value IP and technology disputes, albeit with more of a focus on litigation than arbitration.
The international arbitration practice began to take shape after the firm opened a London office in 2015, absorbing a team from Edwards Wildman Palmer that included partner Laurence Harris, also known for his fraud and asset recovery practice.
A further boost came in 2016 with the hire of three partners from Chadbourne & Parke: former practice head Mark Beckett and colleagues Rachel Thorn and Marc Suskin. The trio, who are based in New York, also worked together at Latham & Watkins and brought valuable experience in commercial and investment treaty arbitration and public international law.
Another important arrival in 2017 was former Volterra Fietta partner Christophe Bondy, who previously led the Canadian government’s defence in NAFTA investor-state cases and helped to negotiate its trade agreement with the EU. He is a special counsel in London.
That same year, the London office also recruited special counsel Joshua Brien, former head and legal advisor of the Oceans and Natural Resources Advisory Division at the Commonwealth Secretariat, further enhancing Cooley’s public international law offering.
The team is concentrated in New York and London. The firm has nine other offices in the US (including Boston, Colorado, Los Angeles, Palo Alto, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington, DC) as well as outposts in Beijing and Shanghai.
Who uses it?
At ICSID, a major client is Koch Minerals, the second-largest privately owned company in the United States, which is owned by prominent Republican Party donors Charles and David Koch.
A subsidiary of France’s Engie and various Turkish clients have turned to the firm for investment treaty matters.
US technology company Qualcomm used it for a billion-dollar royalties dispute with BlackBerry. It has also advised automotive parts supplier Johnson Controls and insurers Lodestar, AXA, Munich Re and XL.
The Turks and Caicos Islands has also been a client.
The practice had a striking result in an ICSID case for Koch Minerals against Venezuela, which Beckett and his team brought over from Chadbourne. In 2017, the company won US$409 million for an expropriation in the fertiliser sector. Volterra Fietta was co-counsel in the arbitration. Cooley is now representing Koch in a US court action to enforce the award.
In another ICSID case they brought over from their old firm, Beckett and Suskin secured a favourable award for Engie subsidiary Baymina Enerji in an ICSID dispute with Turkey’s state-owned pipeline company Botaş over a gas supply contract. Botaş is trying to annul the award.
Cooley helped Qualcomm to negotiate a settlement with BlackBerry that saw the client pay US$940 million to satisfy a JAMS award concerning royalty overpayments.
In 2018, Cooley helped Turkish construction company Tekfen and its joint venture partner TML win US$40 million plus interest in an ICC claim against a Libyan river authority over an underground pipeline project disrupted by the outbreak of civil war in 2011. The clients were also awarded US$5 million in costs. A parallel ICC claim against Libya brought under an investment treaty is expected to see an award by May 2019.
The firm took on a new instruction from a US deep-ocean exploration company which threatened Mexico with a $3.54 billion NAFTA claim after it was refused an environmental permit to develop a seabed phosphate deposit.
At ICSID, the firm is representing three Turkish investors in a textile enterprise in a US$300 million claim against Uzbekistan; and another Turkish company in a US$75 million claim against the United Arab Emirates over a land reclamation project.
Christophe Bondy is also helping Swedish and Australian investors bring a US$35 million ICSID claim against Gambia over the expropriation of their tiger-prawn farming business.
The firm is helping Lodestar International bring a $200 million UNCITRAL claim against Zambia over the breach of a housing construction contract, and is advising a Middle Eastern state in respect of claims arising out of the imposition of sanctions and related public international law remedies.
The New York office recently added partner Philip Bowman from Boies Schiller. In addition to his litigation work for financial institutions and major sports leagues, Bowman also represents major financial institutions in international arbitrations.