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GAR 100 - 12th Edition

Kulkov Kolotilov & Partners

05 April 2019

Representing a large industrial facilities constructor in a USD$65 million ICAC arbitration

People in Who's Who Legal 1
Pending cases as counsel 2
Value of pending counsel work US$66 million
Treaty cases 0
Current arbitrator appointments 1 (0 as chair or sole)
Lawyers sitting as arbitrator 1

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.

Pokryshkin is a listed arbitrator at the International Arbitration Court at the Chamber of Commerce of Kyrgyzstan.

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.

Track record

The firm helped Kyrgyz businessman Alexander Niyazov 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.

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.

Recent events

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).

The firm is representing a large industrial facilities constructor in a USD$65 million ICAC arbitration dispute between the client and a developer.

They also represented a Russian spare parts aircraft and helicopter supplier and servicing company, Avia-FED-Service, in four suits against Artem, a Ukrainian military equipment manufacturer. The firm won all four suits.

Kulkov is also working on preparing an expert report on LCIA arbitration in regards to whether LCIA awards in corporate disputes between Russian companies may be recognised and enforced by Russian courts, considering recent arbitration reform in the country.

Client comment

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”.

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