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GAR 100 - 5th Edition

Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe

05 March 2012

Since its arrival in the GAR 100 last year, the firm has brought home a couple of significant wins and a precedent-setting enforcement in Hong Kong.

People in Who’s Who:
4
Pending cases as counsel:
31
Value of pending counsel work:
US$6 billion
Treaty cases:
0
Current arbitrator appointments:
37 (of which 16 are as sole or chair)
No. of lawyers sitting as arbitrator:
10

Orrick’s international arbitration group began on the West Coast of the US, but only gained momentum during the 2000s when it branched into Europe. In 2005, the firm picked up several members of the highly respected arbitration group at now-defunct firm Coudert Brothers, including several partners in London and Moscow, and the venerable Laurie Craig in Paris. A year later, the firm absorbed Rambaud Martel, one of Paris’ elite M&A boutiques, adding serious credibility in France. And in Germany it absorbed Hölters & Elsing – home to Siegfried Elsing, one of Germany’s pre-eminent practitioners and arbitrators. The firm has continued to make impressive lateral hires – in 2009, it was joined by Laurent Jaeger, formerly of Latham & Watkins’ Paris office.

Jaeger currently co-leads Orrick’s international arbitration group with Robert Sills in New York.

Network

Though founded in 19th-century California, Orrick remained a solely West Coast player until 1984, when it opened in New York. Now it has a network across Asia and Europe. The important offices for arbitration though are those mentioned above.

Who uses it?

Norwegian telecoms company Telenor has repeatedly instructed Orrick since 2006 in a series of arbitrations and litigations stemming from its turbulent business relationship with Russia’s Alfa Group. The firm’s strong Parisian arm also counts several French-speaking countries among its clients, including the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Gabon.

Track record

The cases for Telenor saw Orrick winning at every step. At the outset, the firm obtained an anti-suit injunction in a New York court allowing an arbitration to go ahead (over a joint investment in Ukrainian telecoms company Kyivstar); then won the arbitration; then confirmed the award in New York; and then obtained contempt of court rulings – not once, but twice – and large fines against the opponent, Alfa Group, for non-compliance with the award.

Later, Telenor used it again for an UNCITRAL arbitration against Alfa over some joint interests in Russia’s VimpelCom, which again went in Telenor’s favour. The two opponents settled their differences in 2010 – cancelling all outstanding actions – and created a new joint venture for them in Amsterdam. (They are, however, back in arbitration again, with Orrick once again representing Telenor.)

More recently, a tribunal in New York awarded Orrick’s client Amaprop US$48.5 million in a dispute with an Indian joint venture partner.

Recent events

In February, Orrick hired partner Yoshihiro Takatori from Paul Hastings in Tokyo, who brought with him a team of lawyers including counsel Shinsuke Yakura. The Paris and Hong Kong offices have also recruited a number of new associates.

Meanwhile, Siegfried Elsing, who stepped down as head of the firm’s international arbitration practice in March 2011, was appointed to ICSID’s new panel of conciliators in September. And Laurie Craig was one of three co-chairs leading the 20-strong subcommittee of the ICC Commission on Arbitration that drafted the new ICC rules.

On the work front, Guinea instructed Orrick in November to defend it in an ICSID case filed by Getma International, a French company that claims the state expropriated its 25-year port concession in the capital of Conakry.

Around the same time, the firm says, partners Robert Pé and Andrew Dale received a US$595 million final award from an arbitral tribunal seated in Hong Kong in a confidential real estate dispute.

Pé, who heads Orrick’s Asia dispute resolution practice, also helped the Democratic Republic of the Congo prevent enforcement of two ICC awards held by US distressed-debt fund FG Hemisphere. The seminal decision saw the Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal confirm that foreign states enjoy absolute sovereign immunity in Hong Kong – a position later upheld by China’s National People’s Congress.

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