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GAR 100 - 12th Edition

Leaua Damcali Deaconu Paunescu

05 April 2019

Successfully defended Romania’s state-owned electricity company

People in Who's Who Legal 1
People in Future Leaders 1
Pending cases as counsel 14
Value of pending counsel work US$7.8 billion
Treaty cases 3
Third-party funded cases 0
Current arbitrator appointments 10 (4 as chair or sole)
Lawyers sitting as arbitrator 3

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, the firm’s arbitration practice 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.

As of September 2018, the firm has expanded its offering beyond international dispute resolution to encompass international transactions and business restructuring. To this end, it hired two new name partners, as well as adding Deaconu’s name to the brand. The firm is now known as Leaua Damcali Deaconu Paunescu.

Who uses it?

Romania is a regular client at ICSID, while its ministry of public finances, ministry of health, ministry of environment, 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 (as it then was) 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.

It acted for Romania’s largest hydropower generation company in two ICC cases. In the first, it defeated a 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.

The firm 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

Leaua Damcali Deaconu Paunescu successfully defended Romanian state-owned electricity supplier Hidroelectrica against a €43 million ad hoc claim by a Swiss energy trader alleging that it failed to comply with an energy supply contract. The firm acted as co-counsel alongside Lenz & Staehelin.

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.

The firm also helped a Romanian contractor settle an ICC claim against a Yemeni respondent over the construction of a hospital. 

Crenguta Leaua and Stefan Deaconu were appointed on the newly-launched panel of investment arbitrators of the CIETAC Investment Dispute Settlement Centre.  Leaua was also appointed on the advisory board of a £1 million research project into the social and psychological underpinnings of commercial arbitration in Europe. 

Client comment

Dana Dunel-Stancu, former head of legal at Hidroelectrica, says partner Andreea Simulescu is “one of the best lawyers” she has worked with.  “Her fairness and constructive approach to any conflict are strengths that differentiate her from other lawyers,” she adds.

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