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GAR 100 - 12th Edition

Squire Patton Boggs

05 April 2019

Has significantly bulked up its already impressive investor-state practice with the recruitment of a large team from another firm

People in Who's Who Legal 4
People in Future Leaders 5
Pending cases as counsel 98
Value of pending counsel work US$23.6 billion
Treaty cases 11
Third-party funded cases 2
Current arbitrator appointments 35 (19 as chair or sole)
Lawyers sitting as arbitrator 7

Squire Patton Boggs is the product of a 2014 merger between two US firms: Cleveland-based Squire Sanders and Patton Boggs in Washington, DC.

Partner George von Mehren, who divides his time between Cleveland and London, built the Squire Sanders arbitration practice in the 2000s and has led it for nearly two decades. Two other key figures who have led much of the firm’s investment arbitration work are Stephen Anway in New York, who joined Squire Sanders in 2004, and Rostislav Pekar in Prague, who began his career at the legacy firm in 2001 working on the Saluka v Czech Republic case just after graduating from university.

While most of the merged firm’s arbitration capability came from the Squire Sanders side, Patton Boggs had successfully penetrated the Middle East over 30 years and developed a disputes practice led by Doha-based construction disputes specialist Tom Wilson and Dubai-based Alain Farhad (who joined from Freshfields).The firm scored a coup in 2019 with the recruitment of a nine-strong team from Curtis Mallet-Prevost Colt & Mosle including partner Miriam Harwood in New York, who now co-heads the investment arbitration practice alongside Pekar. The contingent from Curtis also included partner Ali Gursel and his entire team in Ashgabat.

Another name to know in New York is Luka Misetic, a US lawyer of Croatian origin who joined the merged firm in 2015 and has acted in cases before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.

The merged practice is best known for its work on behalf of states in investment disputes and buyers in gas price review arbitrations. It reckons to have concluded more than 40 gas pricing disputes in Europe or Asia with wins or settlements negotiated prior to the commencement of arbitration for clients including Gas Natural and Edison.

Network

The practice reckons it has 110 arbitration-literate practitioners in more than 20 countries. The key US and European offices are London, Paris, Frankfurt, Prague, New York and Washington, DC. Middle East work is handled from Dubai and Doha.

In Asia, Peter Chow divides his time between Hong Kong and Singapore, while there is also a Tokyo practice headed by Canadian former diplomat Haig Oghigian, a hire from K&L Gates. The recent arrivals from Curtis have given it a presence in Ashgabat for the first time.

There are also arbitration-literate lawyers found in Budapest, Moscow, Houston, Columbus, Miami and Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic. The wider firm has 46 offices spanning 21 countries.

Who uses it?

Recent state clients include Croatia, Estonia, Ecuador, Gabon, Kosovo, Libya, Slovakia and Saudi Arabia. Turkmenistan is a new client (see ‘Recent events’).

The firm has had a long relationship with the Czech Republic – since legacy firm Squire Sanders gained a win for the state in the Nagel case in 2003.

In the energy sector, clients include Spain’s Naturgy (formerly Gas Natural), Guangdong Dapeng LNG, Edison, Engie, Enelk and state entities KazMunaiGas of Kazakhstan and PDVSA of Venezuela.

It has also acted for New Doha International Airport and Hitachi.

Track record

The firm has done stellar work for Slovakia. In 2017, it helped the state to defeat a US$1.65 billion ICSID claim brought by investors in a talc mine. The award is now the subject of annulment proceedings, while one of the claimants has submitted a new claim.

It also secured the dismissal of a treaty claim against Slovakia by Dutch insurer Achmea on jurisdictional grounds and an award of costs for the client. GAR recognised the victory as one of the most important decisions of 2014.

Together with Dechert, Squire Patton Boggs helped Ecuador convince an ICSID annulment committee to shave US$700 million off an award in favour of Occidental Petroleum in 2015 – the largest amount ever annulled at ICSID. Ecuador paid US$980 million to satisfy the award in the following year.

Legacy firm Squire Sanders prevailed in three cases brought against the Czech Republic by Phoenix Action, EEE Projecktmanagement International and InterTrade Holding. It also acted in the state’s dispute with Japanese bank Nomura, which reached a settlement in 2008.

In gas price reviews, the firm says it has been unbeaten since 2004 when it represented a Spanish buyer in the first case spawned by the EU liberalisation of national gas markets, helping to establish key principles in the area. It helped an Italian energy company win two ICC awards against different counterparties, for US$580 million and US$395 million.

The firm says its success in obtaining favourable awards has contributed to a series of high-value settlements in more recent price review cases.

Recent events

There was a standout win in 2018 for Kosovo in its first-ever investment treaty arbitration – a €380 million claim brought by German private equity group ACP Axos Capital over a thwarted telecoms privatisation deal. Kosovo not only defeated the claim but was awarded US$2 million in costs.

Thanks to Harwood and Gursel, the firm is now defending Turkmenistan in five ICSID cases, including a U$750 million claim brought by Russia’s Mobile TeleSystems and other claims by Turkish and German construction companies. Squire Patton Boggs has replaced Curtis as counsel on four of those cases, while the two firms are working together on the fifth.

In addition, the team is representing Turkmenistan and a state-owned chemicals concern, Turkmenhymia, in a contract based SCC dispute with a Belarusian entity over the construction of a billion-dollar potash fertiliser plant.

It continues to defend Croatia against a claim brought by Hungarian oil company MOL; Libya in three treaty cases being heard at the ICC; and Venezuela’s national oil and gas company PDVSA in a trio of sensitive ICC arbitrations worth more than US$400 million.

On the investor side, it’s representing Canadian nationals and their companies in an ICSID claim against Serbia over an agricultural enterprise.

As for commercial arbitration, it was instructed by low-cost airline Air Arabic for a claim before the Dubai International Arbitration Centre against a collapsed private equity group.

The firm promoted four new partners; Eveli Lume in Berlin, Mária Poláková in Prague, Max Rockall in London and David Starkoff in Sydney

Client comment

Paul Myers, head of legal at Luxembourg fund Redline Capital Management, says he “cannot recommend the arbitration team highly enough” and will continue to use them for all future matters.

A former executive at an Asian communications company says Tokyo practice head Haig Oghigian is “erudite and engaging” and that his experience of arbitration and diplomacy “proved invaluable.”

Another client describes the firm as reliable with highly qualified and dedicated practitioners. Raúl Mañón in the Miami office is praised for his expansive knowledge of international law.

Insight

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