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GAR 100 - 12th Edition

Tomov & Tomov

05 April 2019

Continuing to defend Bulgaria in a number of treaty disputes

People in Who's Who Legal 1
Pending cases as counsel 9
Value of pending counsel work US$1 billion+
Treaty cases 8
Third-party funded cases 0
Current arbitrator appointments 2 (0 as chair or sole)
Lawyers sitting as arbitrator 1

The boutique firm was founded in 1993 by Lazar Tomov in Sofia and specialises in arbitration, litigation and complex financial transactions.

Tomov himself balances his work as counsel with a thriving practice as an arbitrator, having been appointed to more than 100 panels. His counsel work has included ICSID, ICC and UNCITRAL proceedings, as well as disputes under the auspices of the Arbitration Court of the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

The other name to know is Sylvia Steeva, who joined the firm in 2003 and was made partner in 2010.

Tomov & Tomov is best known for representing Bulgaria in some of its earliest investment treaty cases, in collaboration with international counsel White & Case, a collaboration that dates back to 2003.

Track record

That pairing with White & Case began with the successful defence of Bulgaria against a US$280 million claim by Cyprus’s Plama Consortium under the Energy Charter Treaty (ECT). It was the first ICSID case under the ECT to reach a ruling on the merits, with a 2008 award concluding that the investor had made fraudulent misrepresentations.

The same co-counsel team has achieved a string of further successes. In a pair of commercial arbitrations involving Bulgaria, they helped the state win a substantial ICC award against a private equity fund in 2012 and defeat an ICC claim by a Swedish engineering company at the jurisdictional phase in 2014 (the award was later upheld in the French courts).

Tomov & Tomov has collaborated to great effect with other GAR 100 firms. Together with Sidley Austin, it defended Bulgaria against a €60 million treaty claim at the Permanent Court of Arbitration. The tribunal dismissed the claim on jurisdictional grounds and awarded the state costs. Tomov & Tomov then co-counselled with German firm Hanefeld to have the award enforced in Germany, and with De Brauw to defend a set-aside action in the Dutch courts that was ultimately abandoned by the investor.

Recent events

Although none of the cases Tomov & Tomov is working on have reached an award since the previous edition of the GAR 100, the firm continues to defend Bulgaria in a number of investment treaty disputes.

The most recent instruction came in 2018 and sees the firm once again teaming up with White & Case to defend Bulgaria against an ICSID claim brought under the ECT by Maltese-registered ACF Renewable Energy. The dispute relates to a US$250 million solar power facility in southern Bulgaria.

Tomov & Tomov is also working with White & Case on two other ECT cases Bulgaria is facing at ICSID, brought by Czech investor Energo-Pro and Austria’s EVN, as well as an ad hoc investment treaty claim.

It has teamed up with Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer to defend Bulgaria in two pending ICSID matters: an ECT claim by Czech energy group CEZ and a claim by Oman’s largest sovereign wealth fund concerning an investment in a collapsed bank.

The firm is also working with Arnold & Porter on another investment treaty matter brought against Bulgaria by a Mitsubishi entity.

Meanwhile, Tomov continues to be active as an arbitrator and was appointed to ICSID tribunals by Bulgaria and Croatia in 2018.

Client comment

One client says they have been using Tomov & Tomov for 16 years and the firm has represented it successfully in all the cases in which it was retained. “Tomov & Tomov always provides reliable advice on complex legal issues on the basis of their deep knowledge and wide experience in Bulgarian and international law matters,” says the client.

“In short, Tomov & Tomov is an outstanding law firm.”

Another user of the firm’s services praises its strategic judgement and thoroughness. “They approach every legal issue with legal knowledge, diligence and dedication,” the client says. The fees are reasonable, and Lazar Tomov is an “outstanding litigator”.



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