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GAR 100 - 13th Edition

Kulkov Kolotilov & Partners

15 April 2020

Representing foreign executives in a challenge to a US$62 million award

People in Who's Who Legal 1
Pending cases as counsel 2
Value of pending counsel work US$70.6 million
Treaty cases 0
Current arbitrator appointments 1 (1 as chair or sole)
Lawyers sitting as arbitrator 1

This Moscow boutique was set up in 2015 by Maxim Kulkov, a former counsel and head of the Russian disputes practice at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, and Oleg Kolotilov, who was a senior associate at the same firm. The two name partners were soon joined by another Freshfields alumnus, Nikolay Pokryshkin.

KK&P thinks its small size gives it greater flexibility. It only accepts a limited number of cases, which have so far included matters at most of the leading international arbitration centres in Europe as well as the ICAC (the arbitration court attached to the Russian Chamber of Commerce). It highlights debt recovery and asset dissipation matters as among the firm’s strengths.

Kulkov is a member of the ICC commission on arbitration and the ICC Russia arbitration commission. He is also on the arbitrator lists of ICAC, SIAC, the Japan Commercial Arbitration Association, the Russian Arbitration Association and other institutions in Russia and Kyrgyzstan. He also helps promote mediation in Russia.

Pokryshkin is a listed arbitrator at the International Arbitration Court at the Chamber of Commerce of Kyrgyzstan.

Who uses it?

Clients include US railcar leasing company GATX, Gazprom’s aviation fuel subsidiary Gazpromneft-Aero, Russian asset management group Alma, Agroprosperis (the second largest crop agricultural holding in Ukraine), international aerospace technology company MDA, and a major international music company.

Clifford Chance has used the firm in relation to a dispute between Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska and Vladimir Chernukhin, the former Russian deputy finance minister and ex-chair of Vnesheconombank.

The government of Ukraine is using the firm in proceedings brought by Russian oil producer Tatneft to enforce an investment treaty award worth US$150 million over the loss of its investment in Ukraine’s largest oil refinery.

Track record

The firm helped Kyrgyz businessman Alexander Niyazov prevail in an ICAC case against subsidiaries of Russian oil company Rosneft in a post-M&A dispute relating to Kyrgyz oil companies, for which it drew praise from the client.

KK&P represented a BVI company in an English-seated LCIA case against a large holding company over shareholdings in a major oil and gas producer.

It also represented a Russian spare parts aircraft and helicopter supplier and servicing company, Avia-FED-Service, in four suits against Artem, a Ukrainian military equipment manufacturer. The firm won all four suits.

Recent events

The firm’s ongoing work still includes representing a large industrial facilities constructor in a US$65 million ICAC arbitration dispute between the client and a developer, and providing legal advice on whether LCIA awards in corporate disputes between Russian companies may be recognised and enforced by Russian courts, considering recent arbitration reforms in the country.

KK&P has also been advising a world leader in gases, technologies and services in industry and health in connection with the enforcement of a US$2.5 million ICAC award, while Pokryshkin is leading the team representing senior German executives in efforts to annul a US$62 million award issued by the Arbitration Court at the Moscow Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Client comment

Niyazov, the Kyrgyz businessman mentioned above, says the KK&P partners are distinguished by their “bravery”, proving more willing to take on cases against major Russian state-owned companies than some of their local competitors. He says Kulkov and Pokryshkin are like “raging bulls” during hearings. Kulkov is “brilliant” at anticipating opponents’ arguments and interrogating the facts of a case “three times deeper than I could have imagined”. Pokryshkin is “sharp and creative” and “always considers all the possible options”.

He adds that, while “quite expensive”, KK&P charges much less than international law firms while providing the same quality. Niazov’s legal costs were recovered from the respondent in his case.

From the legal department of Zarubezhstroytechnology (ZST), a subsidiary of state-owned transport company Russian Railways, Yulia Chernook used the firm for two ICAC cases against an Austrian contractor and related enforcement proceedings. She says KK&P provides a “deep, thoughtful, scrupulous approach” and a “matter of fact, proactive attitude”. Kulkov is a “man of great abilities” with an “encyclopaedic knowledge in the fields of Russian civil law and private international law”.

Stuart Dutson, head of international arbitration at Simmons & Simmons in London, co-counselled with Kulkov on a banking dispute at the LCIA with Russian, UK and Israeli angles. He calls Kulkov a “brilliant legal scholar with the delivery of a prize heavyweight boxer”.

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