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GAR 100 - 5th Edition

Obeid Law Firm

05 March 2012

This family firm is a focal point for international arbitration in Lebanon.

People in Who’s Who:
1
Pending cases as counsel:
15
Value of pending counsel work:
US$258 million
Treaty cases:
0
Current arbitrator appointments:
12 (of which 11 are as sole or chair)
No. of lawyers sitting as arbitrator:
2

Nayla Comair-Obeid founded this family firm in Beirut in 1987. Both firm and founder have since emerged as significant factors in the development of arbitration in Lebanon and the Middle East.

A professor of alternative dispute resolution at the Lebanese Judicial Institute and visiting professor at the University of Panthéon-Assas, Paris, Comair-Obeid has trained other lawyers and judges across the Middle East on the topics of arbitration and the role of the judiciary in supporting the process. She also helped initiate what she describes as “an arbitration awareness campaign” across Lebanon and introduced, for the first time, international arbitration courses at undergraduate level at Lebanese universities. She has also played an active part on the wider international arbitration circuit. She is one of the current vice chairs of the IBA arbitration committee.

It was no surprise, then, that when Lebanon began to amend its arbitration law, the firm was retained to prepare the first draft (the final law was published in 2002) or that the International Bar Association approached the firm to write the “IBA Arbitration Guide” for Lebanon and to assist in drafting and translating an Arabic version of the IBA guidelines for drafting international arbitration clauses.

Clients include companies and states usually from within the region. It has represented the government of Lebanon in two of the largest international arbitrations to date. Often the work centres on construction disputes. That said, it has represented foreign clients – including recently a major US multinational in arbitration-related court proceedings before the Lebanese courts – and has acted as expert in Lebanese law for a Canadian energy company in proceedings before the English High Court.

Nayla Comair-Obeid also sits as arbitrator; at ICSID she is on the annulment committee hearing a request from Colorado-based RSM (owned by Jack Grynberg) to overturn an award granting it limited damages in its claim against the Central African Republic.

Recent events

The arrival of Ziad Obeid (Nayla’s son) has boosted the firm’s capability in the field of construction disputes. Ziad trained initially as a civil engineer and has worked for a major international construction company in France as well as Canadian engineering consulting firm Tecsult.

After qualifying in law, he practised at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer in Paris and Dubai, where he worked on international construction and energy arbitrations. He has also worked on investment cases, including those brought under BITs.

Another new joiner, Zeina Obeid, arrived from White and Case in Paris. She is completing her PhD at University of Panthéon-Assas on the topic of annulment of arbitral awards in the Middle East.

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