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GAR 100 - 12th Edition

Szecskay Attorneys at Law

05 April 2019

Helped to secure an intra-EU BIT award against Hungary

Pending cases as counsel 10
Value of pending counsel work US$170 million+
Treaty cases 1
Current arbitrator appointments 18 (7 as chair or sole)
Lawyers sitting as arbitrator 4

Founded in Budapest in 1992, this firm often provides local counsel or expert opinions for foreign investors bringing treaty claims against the Hungarian government. It has paired up with the likes of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, Simmons & Simmons and Volterra Fietta on such cases.

The firm has around 25 years’ experience in representing parties before local arbitral institutions, including the recently reorganised Permanent Arbitration Court attached to the Hungarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (HCCI). Four of the firm’s lawyers now feature on that institution’s roster of arbitrators.

The international arbitration team was led for a long time by founding partner András Szecskay. He stepped down as practice head in 2019 but continues to practise at the firm, while newly promoted partner Miklós Boronkay has taken the reins. 

Members of the practice are fluent in English, French, German and Hungarian, and qualified in France, Germany, England and Wales, and the US.

It has also been involved in cases before the European Court of Human Rights.

Who uses it?

At ICSID, it has counselled Emmis Communications and Accession Mezzanine in a dispute over radio licences; and provided counsel or expert evidence to French voucher services providers affected by reforms to Hungary’s fringe benefits system.

Vigotop, a company owned by US businessman Ronald Lauder, has also retained it for expert testimony in a €300 million ICSID case relating to a casino resort.

In commercial arbitrations, it has acted for Hungarian pharmaceuticals group Gedeon Richter, French logistics company Groupe Samat, Austrian banks Erste and Raiffeisen, and various affiliates of Germany’s E.ON. Other clients include Plaza Centers (in a dispute with French real estate investor Klépierre); and Luxembourg entertainment network RTL Group.

Track record

Szecskay Attorneys got its first ICSID instruction in 2003 when it acted for Cypriot investor ADC in a claim relating to a renovation project at an airport in Budapest. The client was awarded US$76 million.

It won a US$40million ICC award for Gedeon Rechter in a dispute over a failed M&A transaction; and helped the same client win a major award in an UNCITRAL case against another party.

For Groupe Samat, it obtained a win in a high-profile shareholder dispute heard at the HCCI.

The firm also reports successfully representing an oil and gas company as claimant in a multimillion dollar UNCITRAL arbitration. 

Recent events

There was a great result in January 2019 for another French voucher company, Sodexo Pass International. An ICSID tribunal ordered Hungary to pay €73 million plus interest after finding that the state’s fringe benefit reforms amounted to an expropriation. Notably, the tribunal dismissed an amicus curiae submission from the European Commission that the claim brought under an intra-EU bilateral investment treaty was precluded by the Achmea decision. Szecskay attorneys co-counselled with Simmons & Simmons on the case.

The firm was involved in drafting the new Hungarian arbitration law, which entered into force in January 2018.

Partner András László, who was involved in much of the firm’s activity, left in 2018 to set up a new boutique in Budapest, László Fekete Bagaméry.

Insight

Reviews

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

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The Asia-Pacific Arbitration Review 2020

Highlights

DCF: Gold Standard or Fool’s Gold?

Montek Mayal and Alexander Davie

FTI Consulting

Distinction and Connection: Hong Kong and Mainland China, a View from the HKIAC

Sarah Grimmer

Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre