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GAR 100 - 12th Edition

Linklaters

05 April 2019

The team recently helped Germany draw a line under toll road disputes worth more than US$10 billion

People in Who's Who Legal 3
People in Future Leaders 6
Pending cases as counsel 88+
Value of pending counsel work US$16 billion+
Treaty cases 7
Third-party funded cases 0
Current arbitrator appointments 28 (10 as chair or sole)
Lawyers sitting as arbitrator 13

Linklaters catapulted into the GAR 30 in 2015, having never featured in previous editions of the GAR 100, and now it’s a fixture.

The firm traces its roots to the 1830s and, like other Magic Circle firms, began to expand internationally in the mid-1990s. Several of the firm’s offices began to take on arbitration matters as an offshoot of their corporate work (a real estate dispute for the Hong Kong government around 2004 was thought to be the biggest local arbitration of its day), and the London office in particular gathered steam thanks to partners Greg Reid and Christopher Style QC (who left for One Essex Court in 2012).

For a long time, though, the firm resisted having a dedicated international arbitration practice, choosing rather to keep the group within the litigation practice. As a result, Linklaters was not regarded as a serious player within international arbitration circles, despite having some big-ticket cases over the years and many partners with arbitration experience located all over the world.

But a lot has changed in the past few years, beginning with the hire of a heavyweight team in Paris from Darrois Villey Maillot Brochier in 2013. Matthieu de Boisséson and Pierre Duprey, who moved across, had built a reputation working on large construction cases, such as TML v Eurotunnel. They also advised Danone in its famous SCC dispute with China’s Wahaha. (De Boisséson has since retired from Linklaters to become an independent arbitrator.)

At the same time, the Paris office recruited partner Roland Ziadé from Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, a local rising star. He featured in GAR’s “45 under 45” survey of leading young practitioners in 2011. He has a large Middle Eastern component to his practice, having spent part of professional life in Abu Dhabi.

The group then gained further momentum with the arrival of GAR editorial board member and renowned public international lawyer Matthew Weiniger QC from Herbert Smith Freehills. He now co-heads the practice with Pierre Duprey.

Network

The arbitration group’s twin centres of gravity are Paris and London, with other important offices in Amsterdam, Brussels, Frankfurt, Lisbon, Hong Kong and New York. There are also boots on the ground in Luxembourg, Madrid, Milan, Moscow, Munich, Singapore, Stockholm, Warsaw and Washington, DC. The wider firm has 29 offices across Europe, the USA and Asia.

Who uses it?

A number of large multinationals have turned to the group over the years, including Anglo American, Areva, BAE, Bayer, BG Group, BP, Carlyle Group, Caterpillar, Deutsche Bank, Diageo, Disney, DP World, Electrabel, E.ON, Enel, Engie, Eni, Euromissile, France Télécom, Glencore, Lafarge Holcim, Renault, Royal Bank of Scotland, RWE and Total.

On the sovereign side, a recent client is Germany, which used the firm for a pair of ad hoc arbitrations, over a truck toll system, worth in all US$10 billion – thought to be the largest cases ever heard in the country – and which settled in 2018 (see “Recent events”).

Linklaters lawyers have also acted for and against the Polish government in different investment treaty matters. Russia has used it for enforcement proceedings in the Luxembourg courts (the long-running Noga case).

African state clients include Senegal, Gabon and the Republic of the Congo. It is also known to act for several NATO agencies.

Track record

The arbitration group enjoyed a spectacular win in 2017 when it helped Elf Neftegaz, a defunct subsidiary of French oil company Total, defeat a US$22.4 billion UNCITRAL claim brought by two Russian provinces. The eight-year arbitration was seated in Stockholm and gave rise to criminal proceedings against two of the original arbitrators. Mannheimer Swartling, Vinge and Darrois Villey co-counselled on the case.

Also in 2017, and as co-counsel with Quinn Emanuel, Ziadé led a team that helped port operator DP World defeat an LCIA claim brought by Djibouti. The tribunal dismissed Djibouti’s allegations that DP World had paid bribes to procure a concession to operate Africa’s largest container terminal.

Looking further back, Anglo-Swiss commodities giant Glencore used the firm for a monumental LCIA case brought by Russia’s Sual Partners concerning supply contracts with Rusal worth US$48 billion; the dispute settled on confidential terms in 2014.

The team also worked on a high-profile settlement for a Luxembourg satellite operator, SES Astra, in an ICC dispute with France’s Eutelsat over rights to an orbital position in outer space.

In 2010, Linklaters helped Polish telecoms operator Telekomunikacja Polska (now Orange Polska) resolve a €2.5 billion shareholder dispute with the Vivendi group, which played out in UNCITRAL proceedings in The Hague; the settlement resulted gave rise to the largest M&A transaction in Poland in that year.

More recently, together with his former firm Herbert Smith Freehills, Weiniger and Linklaters helped Standard Chartered Bank win a US$148 million ICSID award against Tanzanian state power company Tanesco in 2016 after persuading the tribunal it had been misled by Tanesco earlier in the case. An ICSID ad hoc committee upheld that award in 2018, with Weiniger again representing the claimant.

In court, Linklaters helped Kuwait’s Independent Petroleum Group to enforce a US$70 million ICC award against Eritrea.

Recent events

Linklaters recently helped Germany to settle two mammoth disputes over a truck toll system. The state announced it had reached a €3.2 billion agreement with Daimler and Deutsche Telekom Germany that would end the 14-year dispute, which gave rise to one of the largest arbitration matters in Germany’s history, an ad hoc case over a claim of €9 billion.

The state also settled a separate US$2 billion related ad hoc arbitration with Toll Collect around the same time.

In London, a team led by Ben Carroll have been representing BP in a US$1.7 billion UNCITRAL arbitration with the government of India over an offshore gas block; BP filed the claim after it and its partners Reliance Industries and Niko Resources were fined for profiting from gas that had allegedly migrated from adjacent state-owned fields. In August 2018 a tribunal rejected the state’s claims, ordering it to pay US$8.3 million in costs.

BP has also instructed Linklaters for a separate LCIA arbitration launched by Niko after BP and Reliance asked it to withdraw from the same project because it defaulted on a cash call.

The team secured a win for Lebanese television broadcaster LBCI. An ICC tribunal ordered media companies owned by a Saudi prince to pay around US$20 million to LBCI for terminating their business partnership.

Spanish energy company Enagás has instructed the firm to bring an ICSID claim against Peru over a US$500 million investment in a natural gas pipeline that, they argue, was harmed by the Odebrecht corruption scandal.

On the state side, Linklaters continues to represent Gabon in its defence of an ICC claim worth around US$600 million brought by a company owned by French-Italian businessman Guido Santullo. The money is allegedly owed for work on public infrastructure projects. A tribunal upheld jurisdiction in April 2018 and the case is continuing despite Santullo’s death in August.

In Hong Kong, the firm recruited Andrew Chung as partner from a major US investment bank. Former Cleary Gottlieb partner Roberto Casati joined as a partner in Milan. And Denise Fung in Hong Kong, Ricardo Guimarães in Lisbon, Teresa Laboucarié-Polak in London and Xavier Taton in Brussels were all promoted to partner.

Client comment

Brazilian conglomerate Andrade Gutierrez used Linklaters in a shipping mediation that helped avoid a €65 million ICC case. In-house counsel Isadora Barreto said the firm’s global reach was a major asset. She calls Christian Albanesi “an exceptionally brilliant lawyer.”

A Turkish energy company reports that Linklaters achieved “a very good result with a very high proportion of recovery” in a dispute over a joint venture agreement. They praised Greg Reid in London as “very polished and an outstanding technical lawyer”.

Meanwhile Alexandre Job, in-house counsel at Total, says Andrew Plump is “a powerful advocate, a strong oral litigator” who is also “hands on”, while Pierre Duprey is “very clever” at matching “legal tactics with the clients’ interests” and “he always keeps a cool head”.

Diego Trillo Ruiz of Enagas says the firm has shown “huge expertise” in its representation of his company in an ICSID arbitration with Peru. Partner Borja Fernández de Trocóniz has a “deep knowledge of commercial law and a very good practical approach when dealing with complex matters”, while counsel Christian Albanesi is “sensible and accurate”.

Eric Decker, the legal director of Germany’s Bilfinger, said he found the team he used “outstanding; absolutely convincing and legally excellent” and “very good value for money”. He mentioned Rupert Bellinghausen and Anne Krause in particular.

Lyn Penfold of the UK’s Rail Delivery Group singled out Ben Carroll in London for praise: “He is calm and collected and makes his points forcefully and eloquently. He has a very agile brain which keeps many strands of thoughts in an ordered logical structure. I don’t know how he does it!”

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