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GAR 100 - 4th Edition

Squire Sanders & Dempsey LLP

21 February 2011

Squire Sanders’ arbitration team took shape in 2000 around a partner in the Cleveland head office (George von Mehren) and a lateral team added in Hungary (led by Iván Szász). Between 2006 and 2007, the practice added five further partners in New York, London and Miami – including Greenberg Traurig’s head of international litigation, Pedro Martinez-Fraga.

People in Who’s Who:
2
Pending cases as counsel:
18
Value of pending counsel work:
US$6.4 billion
Treaty cases:
3
Current arbitrator appointments:
9 (of which 5 are as sole or chair)
No. of lawyers sitting as arbitrator:
6

A recent merger with UK firm Hammonds has added manpower in London, Paris, New York and Hong Kong. Von Mehren told GAR in a recent interview that the practice now has more than 80 international disputes lawyers in Asia, Europe, the Middle East and the Americas.

The practice has worked on a number of extremely high-value disputes from central and eastern Europe and Latin America, but is for some reason often missed in legal directories. Ivan Szász is a past vice president of ICCA.

Network

Early in the 1990s, the firm expanded in eastern Europe – opening in Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Ukraine and Russia – followed by Germany and the UK. In the late 90s, it opened in China and then Tokyo. The firm has a proprietary network in Latin America and its own offices in Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Caracas and Santo Domingo. The merger with Hammonds has added offices in Berlin, Madrid, Manchester and Paris.

Who uses it?

The Czech Republic retained the firm for the long-running Saluka arbitration about a bank failure in which the Czech government was alleged to have played a hand. Since then, the firm has represented the state in at least six other matters including Phoenix Action, a doctrinally important matter on whether a business with a grievance against a government can go “treaty shopping”.

Ecuador has also retained the firm for ICSID claims by oil companies Noble Energy and Occidental. On the claimant’s side, Squire Sanders has represented investors in BIT claims against Mongolia and Hungary. Energy companies have used it on gas price disputes, while Ecuadorean beverages company Ingaseosas used it for a shareholder dispute. Inversiones Energeticas, a private corporation created by the Salvadorean government to manage all its geothermal resources, has also retained it.

Big wins

Gas Natural – a client – won US$74 million in a gas price dispute with a Trinidad consortium that included BP and BG Group. The arbitrators also reset the pricing formula. Factoring that in, the win was worth close to US$1 billion. An American legal magazine selected the award as the second biggest win by any claimant in recent years.

The firm also persuaded an UNCITRAL tribunal, hearing a claim about tax changes in Mongolia, to order suspension of the relevant tax collection process – an unusual step in an investment arbitration.

Members of the Hammonds team won €17 million for Chelsea Football Club at the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne in a doping case concerning its former player Adrian Mutu. The tribunal found the Romanian footballer had breached his contract.

Recent events

The firm says it’s picked up several more price re-opener disputes from gas companies. Elsewhere, two associates were promoted to the partnership in the past: Stephen Anway in Cleveland and Rostislav Pekar in Prague. Adrian Taylor joined as a partner in Hong Kong, while Gustavo Lamelas joined as of counsel in the Miami office. In Miami, Pedro Martinez-Fraga became one of the first authors to have a book on international commercial arbitration translated into Mandarin. The head of the firm’s litigation and arbitration practice in London, Rod Cowper, left to join another firm.

Who’s Who nominee:

  • George von Mehren

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