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GAR 100 - 12th Edition

Motieka & Audzevicius

05 April 2019

The Lithuanian firm had a good result in a construction arbitration at the ICC and is acting for Serbia

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Founding partner Kazimieras Motieka has been practising law since 1959 – making Motieka & Audzevicius one of the longest operating law firms in Lithuania.

Following the arrival in 2003 of Ramunas Audzevicius – now co-head of dispute resolution – the firm began to focus on disputes arising out of foreign investment in new economies in the Baltic and CIS regions. The team is now recognised as the leading arbitration practice in Lithuania.

The other disputes co-head is Jovitas Elzbergas, who specialises in real estate and construction matters.  Another name to know is Rimantas Daujotas who has extensive experience in investment treaty and commercial arbitration.

Network

Based in the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius, the firm has strong Pan-Baltic partnership with partners in Estonia TARK and long-term partners in Latvia Skrastiņš & Dzenis.

Who uses it?

The firm’s main commercial arbitration practice is in the energy, construction, infrastructure, banking & finance, transport and telecommunications sectors.  It also advises on investor-state arbitrations with a particular focus on disputes arising out of foreign investment in new economies, such as the Baltic countries and CIS states. 

Clients include Gazprom, Serbian gas distributor Srbijagas, Veolia, Belarusian oil giant Polotsktranspetrol Druzhba and Russia’s Sberbank.  It has also acted for Italian drinks manufacturer Bosca.  In the investment treaty sphere, it has represented Italian, Danish and Lithuanian investors in bilateral investment treaty claims. 

It has paired up with Lalive to represent a global engineering contractor and power equipment supplier in ICC disputes relating to a Baltic oil refinery.

The firm is increasingly active in sports arbitration cases, representing clients in Belarus, Russia and Switzerland.

Track record

The firm’s most spectacular results have been for Gazprom in a long-running dispute with Lithuania’s energy ministry over a privatised natural gas provider. As co-counsel with Dentons, it persuaded an SCC tribunal to throw out a US$2 billion claim that alleged the Russian state entity had unfairly raised gas prices (Shearman & Sterling were on the other side). Lithuania is challenging the award in the Swedish courts. 

In an earlier phase of the dispute, Motieka & Audzevicius persuaded the Lithuanian Supreme Court to recognise a prior SCC award that had restrained the energy ministry from litigating some of its claims. That part of the case went all the way up to the European Court of Justice, leading to a landmark ruling that anti-suit injunctions issued by arbitral tribunals are compatible with EU law. The ECJ ruling was recognised at the GAR Awards as the most important decision of 2015.

Another case saw it represent Lithuania’s ICOR group in an SCC dispute that ended up before the Belarusian Supreme Court. While the amounts at stake were small, the firm impressively obtained a declaration from the Supreme Court accepting the concept of the assignment of an arbitration clause.

Recent events

Motieka & Audzevicius successfully represented a Lithuanian client in a €7 million construction arbitration against a global energy company at the ICC.

It has also been assisting three Swiss banks in a dispute with the bankrupt Lithuanian Snoras bank involving international investigations into the bankrupt bank’s financial operations.  

The firm was chosen by two Belorussian companies to represent them in disputes against a global group of producers of crop protection products at the Belarusian Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s international arbitration court.

It has been representing a Latvian client in an LCIA dispute against a Macedonian oligarch involving high value cross-border transactions.

It is also advising Modus group – one of the major Lithuanian investors into solar energy in Belarus, Poland and Ukraine – with regard to investor-state disputes.

The firm has continued to act for Serbian energy company Srbijagas for multiple disputes with one of Lithuania’s largest companies, including a claim worth over €50 million and proceedings to enforce four ICC and VIAC awards totalling €10 million.

It is also continuing to help the Serbian government pursue enforcement of VIAC and Serbian arbitral awards against two major Lithuanian companies. 

The firm made two new hires at associate level.

Client comment

Barton Legum of Dentons Europe, who worked with with Motieka & Audzevicius on the Gazprom dispute, praises Audzevicius as “a brilliant strategist, very responsive, thoughtful and perfectly fluent in English and in Russian.”

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