This fledgling Paris boutique was set up by Benoît Le Bars, formerly of Hammonds-Hausmann, at the start of 2010, following a Parisian trend that had seen the creation of a boutique practice founded by French arbitrators Yves Derains and Serge Lazareff and former Salans partner Hamid Gharavi the previous year. For reasons that are still unclear, Lazareff announced in March 2010 that he would be leaving that firm to enter practice with Le Bars – leading to a swift rebranding of both firms. Lazareff brought with him associate Caroline Duclerq (since promoted to of counsel).
At the time, the pair told GAR that the plan was for Le Bars to focus on counsel work, while Lazareff would mainly appear as an arbitrator.
- People in Who’s Who:
- Pending cases as counsel:
- Value of pending counsel work:
- US$0.82 billion
- Treaty cases:
- Current arbitrator appointments:
- 19 (of which 6 are as sole or chair)
- No. of lawyers sitting as arbitrator:
Lazareff is one of France’s best-known arbitrators, a Harvard educated former army officer and one-time interpreter for General Dwight Eisenhower. Among other roles, he is chair of the ICC France arbitration commission and a director of the Paris Centre for Mediation and Arbitration (CMAP), and has just finished a 15-year tenure as chair of the ICC Institute for World Business Law. He’s appeared as an arbitrator on more than 170 tribunals. He was one of the lawyers consulted by the French ministry of justice about the new French arbitration law, and the government even turned to him for help in negotiating the construction of Euro Disney.
Le Bars is an experienced practitioner and academic with particular experience representing companies in disputes involving member states of OHADA, an organisation for the harmonisation of business law across African countries. He’s a registered arbitrator at OHADA’s Common Court of Justice and Arbitration, which is currently based in Abidjan. Duclerq, meanwhile, has experience of construction, sale and distribution, IP, telecoms and insurance disputes, and is acting as sole or co-arbitrator in cases at the ICC and the Tunis Centre of Conciliation and Arbitration.
The most recent additions to the team are Vanessa Thieffry and US-born Gretchen Oldham, both associates. The firm actively encourages academic pursuits and all practice members hold teaching positions at French universities. They also maintain an arbitration law blog. A partnership with New York and California-based law firm Girard & Gibbs gives the firm a handy US connection.
It’s too early for the firm to announce many wins, big or otherwise, but it seems to have amassed a healthy caseload thus far, including acting for a European automotive services provider in UNCITRAL proceedings with a US franchisor, a European telecoms group in an ICSID claim against an African state, an Indian steel company in an ICC arbitration against German producers, and various clients in a spate of North African hotel disputes.