A decision in a US$4.4 billion ICSID claim against Romania is expected soon
|Pending cases as counsel||5|
|Value of pending counsel work||US$4.5 billion|
|Third-party funded cases||1|
Ţuca Zbârcea & Asociaţii was formed in 2005 when a group of 20 lawyers – including disputes partners Florentin Ţuca and Cornel Popa – broke away from another leading Romanian firm, Muşat & Asociaţii. While at Muşat, Ţuca and Popa had teamed up with White & Case to represent Romania in its first-ever ICSID case – a US$447 million claim by US investor Noble Ventures over a privatised steel mill, which ended in a victory for the state.
The spin-off firm has gone on to successfully defend Romania in three other ICSID cases, variously teaming up with White & Case and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer on those matters. In all, it reckons to have contributed to the dismissal of claims against the state totalling €700 million, more than any other rival practice in Romania has managed.
Popa co-heads the international arbitration practice with partner Levana Zigmund. Ţuca, a managing partner at the firm, is also a member of the IBA arbitration committee. The team includes six other lawyers.
At the GAR awards in Paris in 2014, Ţuca Zbârcea & Asociaţii won in the “best boutique or regional practice” category.
Who uses it?
Besides the Romanian government, the firm counts Romanian drilling and oilfield services company Grup Servicii Petroliere among its clients. It acted for the company in an ICC case worth US$131 million against an international oil company, which reached a settlement.
Luxembourg steelmaker ArcelorMittal turned to it for a US$67 million case, also at the ICC, arising from a privatisation contract. Meanwhile, Romanian consultancy Paz Management Group has used it for an ICC matter concerning the construction of a shopping mall. Canadian gold exploration company Gabriel Resources is another client – it is using the company for an ICSID case against Argentina and another against Romania (see below).
The firm is representing McDonald’s Romania in set-aside proceedings for an award issued in Romania.
On behalf of Romania, this is nothing short of excellent. In 2009, the team helped the state defeat a US$110 million damages claim by Eastern Duty Free and win US$6 million towards its costs. White & Case was co-counsel on the case, which was one of the most complex the state has faced and involved allegations of bribery against Romanian officials.
It also defended the state against a US$150 million claim by S&T Oil at ICSID, which was discontinued. For that matter, the firm paired with Freshfields.
In September 2013, with Freshfields again, the firm persuaded an ICSID panel to refuse jurisdiction over a €28 million treaty claim against the government by two Turkish businessmen, Ömer Dede and Serdar Elhüseyni. The tribunal said it couldn’t hear the case because the investors had failed to honour a treaty requirement to pursue domestic remedies before filing an arbitration.
The firm, as co-counsel with White & Case, is still representing Gabriel Resources and its UK subsidiary in a US$4.4 billion ICSID claim against Romania over the Roșia Montană mining project. The hearings on the merits took place over two weeks in December 2019, with a decision expected soon.
Țuca Zbârcea & Asociații is a full-service independent law firm, being currently perceived as one of the largest and best-established in the Romanian legal market. To date, it employs more than 185 cross-disciplinary teams of lawyers, insolvency practitioners, tax consultants, IP counsellors, economists and staff members. It also operates a secondary law office in Cluj-Napoca (Romania), and has a “best-friend” agreement with a leading law firm in the Republic of Moldova. In addition, thanks to the firm’s dedicated Foreign Desks, the team is able to provide the full range of services to Chinese investors seeking to gain a foothold or expand their existing operations in Romania. Țuca Zbârcea & Asociații advises local and international companies, prominent financial institutions, public authorities and governmental institutions on virtually all types of legal, tax and similar matters affecting their operations locally.
The firm’s International Arbitration (IA) practice is part of a wider Dispute Resolution team which currently comprises 45 lawyers. The IA group consists of lawyers with 25 years of practical expertise who share a common professional background and history, as they worked together in a different law firm for many years. The firm’s lawyers have dealt with complex disputes arising out of privatisation procedures and agreements, contracting works and construction agreements, airport commercial services, public and private property, chartering services, as well as corporate issues. The team has an in-depth working knowledge of various arbitration procedural rules such as ICC, ICSID, GAFTA, the Romanian International Chamber of Commerce and UNCITRAL. In particular, the firm’s lawyers in the IA team are recognised for their impressive capabilities and track record of success in handling disputes flowing from breaches of bilateral investment protection treaties. The firm’s main work contacts in this area are: Dr. Florentin Ţuca (Managing Partner), Cornel Popa (Partner), Levana Zigmund (Partner) and Anca Pușcașu (Partner).
Ţuca Zbârcea & Asociaţii
4-8 Nicolae Titulescu Ave., America House, West Wing, 8th Floor
Sector 1, 011141
Phone: +40 21 204 88 90
Fax: +40 21 204 88 99