This small French firm continues to draw in high value work but had some sad news in early 2012.
- People in Who’s Who:
- Pending cases as counsel:
- Value of pending counsel work:
- US$4 billion
- Treaty cases:
- Current arbitrator appointments:
- 17 (of which 8 are as sole or chair)
- No. of lawyers sitting as arbitrator:
of Hammonds Hausmann, at the start of 2010. This happened shortly after the creation of another Paris boutique, founded by arbitrators Yves Derains and Serge Lazareff, and former Salans partner Hamid Gharavi. After a falling out, Lazareff entered practice with Le Bars – leading to a swift rebranding of both firms. Lazareff brought with him associate Caroline Duclercq (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.
Lazareff, who was one of France’s best-known arbitrators, sadly died in January 2012.
The firm remains a going concern. Le Bars himself is an experienced practitioner and academic with particular experience in disputes connected to 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, situated in Abidjan, and also hears a number of ICC claims – as co-arbitrator, he is hearing a US$350 million ICC claim between a Canadian company and an Ivory Coast consortium in the mining industry. He also teaches arbitration and international commerce law in France and the US, and is chairing the working group of ICC France on arbitrator’s liability.
Duclercq, 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 firm’s clientele tends to be from Europe or Africa. At the moment, Le Bars is advising on a €91 million ICC claim between French and African parties in the telecoms industry and a US$190 million ICC claim between Moroccan and Swiss parties in the hotel industry. The firm is actively seeking to build its name for arbitrations from Africa, to which end Duclercq is working to strengthen the firm’s links with countries and local institutions.
The firm is in the process of commencing an ICC arbitration on behalf of an international telecoms company against the state of Equatorial Guinea, after the state refused to sign a settlement agreement with its client concerning a dispute over a joint venture.
It’s also been recruiting – as its caseload has risen. It reports staff numbers to have increased 71 per cent. Most recently, associates Ghjuvana Luigi and Romilly Holland joined the team, both of whom are French-qualified lawyers.