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GAR 100 - 12th Edition

NautaDutilh

05 April 2019

Bringing a treaty claim against the Czech Republic

People in Who's Who Legal 1
Pending cases as counsel 13
Value of pending counsel work US$24 billion
Treaty cases 5
Third-party funded cases 0
Current arbitrator appointments 1 (1 as chair or sole)
Lawyers sitting as arbitrator 1

NautaDutilh is a firm primarily based in the Benelux region of the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg and has a remarkably rich history, having been founded in 1724. Since then it has counted a number of noteworthy figures in its ranks, including legal scholar Tobias Asser won the 1911 Nobel Peace Prize for his work in the field of private international law.

The firm’s modern arbitration practice has been led by Gerard Meijer in Amsterdam since his arrival in 2006. Meijer has become a key player in the Dutch arbitration scene and is the current president of the board of the Netherlands Arbitration Institute. He sits on the executive boards of the Dutch Arbitration Association, of which he was president until 2017, and European Federation for Investment Law and Arbitration. He also a member of the Arbitration Commission of the International Chamber of Commerce.

Another name to know is Bastiaan Assink, who was recently promoted to partner and works with Meijer in Amsterdam. He was the previous secretary general of P.R.I.M.E. Finance, a Dutch arbitration institution set up to deal with financial disputes. The firm’s Brussels and Rotterdam practices are led by partners Stan Brijs and Kasper Krzeminski respectively.

Network

The firm’s Benelux offices are in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Brussels and Luxembourg City. It also has a base in London and, further afield, New York.

Track record

Many of the NautaDutilh’s most significant instructions come in Dutch court proceedings relating to international disputes. One of the major clients in that respect is Chevron, which the firm is helping defend a series of partial awards arising from its US$9.5 billion UNCITRAL dispute with Ecuador over oil pollution in the Amazon rainforest. The Appeals Court of the Hague upheld the partial awards in 2017 and Ecuador is now challenging them before the Dutch Supreme Court.

The firm secured a US$450 million award for Swiss watchmaker Swatch in a claim against US jeweller Tiffany in an arbitration under Netherlands Arbitration Institute rules. Tiffany appealed the decision all the way up to the Dutch Supreme Court, in which NautaDutilh was successful alongside co-counsel Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr in having the award upheld in 2018.

Recent events

NautaDutilh is helping Dutch company Fynerdale Holdings bring a US$100 million treaty claim against the Czech Republic over the state’s alleged failure to take action against the perpetrators of a “fraudulent pyramid scheme” which it had fallen victim to.

The firm is acting for the former owners of Dutch agricultural commodities trader Nidera in ICC arbitration proceedings and Dutch litigation concerning their US$550 million dispute with Chinese state-owned food company Cofco over a multi-billion dollar sale of shares.

Moldovan businessmen Anatolie and Gabriel Stati are using NautaDutilh in their ongoing attempts to enforce a US$530 million Energy Charter Treaty award against Kazakhstan. The Amsterdam Court of Appeal recently ruled Kazakhstan should be granted more time to present evidence the award was obtained fraudulently by the Statis.

NautaDutilh is acting for Brazilian state-run oil and gas company Petrobras fight a class action brought on behalf of investors who suffered losses due to the “Lava Jato” corruption scandal. Petrobras had tried to push the dispute into arbitration but a Rotterdam court upheld jurisdiction over the claim in 2018.

The firm has also acted for Liechtenstein-registered blood plasma supplier Diag Human in its own enforcement saga concerning a US$650 million award against the Czech Republic. In 2018, the Dutch Supreme Court refused to enforce the award.   

A team led by Meijer did however secure enforcement of a US$159 million investment treaty award in favour of Ukrainian investors linked to oligarch Igor Kolomoisky against Russia in the Kiev Court of Appeal. That dispute relates to the seizure of real estate properties in Crimea.

Nikos Lavranos joined the team in 2018 as a Netherlands-based external advisor in investment law and arbitration, in which he is an expert.

Client comment

Margarita Louis-Dreyfus, chairperson at Dutch commodities trader Louis Dreyfus Holding, says the firm represented one of their companies in a recent arbitration and the “NautaDutilh team exhibited high intelligence and deep knowledge in all legal matters related to the arbitration.” Meijer and Assink are praised for “their legal prowess, imaginative and strategic thinking, and work ethic.”

The vice president of production at an oil company says the firm represented his company in a construction arbitration and were “alert and adaptive” in the hearing. He says the firm is distinguished by its “professionalism and team approach.”

Another client who used the firm in an ICC construction dispute says the firm “had good knowledge of the construction business” and were “able to understand complex technical issues.” Rotterdam-based senior associate Tomas Vaal is described as a “young lion” who is strategic, smart and fluent and will leave no stone unturned to win a case.

Insight

Reviews

Regional analysis from arbitrators around the globe, focussing on key developments in specific industry areas and jurisdictions.

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The Middle Eastern and African Arbitration Review 2019

Highlights

CRCICA Overview

Ismail Selim and Dalia Hussein

The Cairo Regional Centre for International Commercial Arbitration (CRCICA)

DIFC-LCIA Arbitration Overview

Alec Emmerson

DIFC Arbitration Institute (DAI)

Robert Stephen, Matthew Harley and Katy Hacking

DIFC-LCIA Arbitration Centre