One of the few Wall Street firms with a strong track record in international arbitration.
- Who’s Who name:
- Robert H Smit
Established in 1884, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett today has some 800 lawyers on its books and a strong reputation for commercial disputes. It is home to 11 partners with arbitration experience – most notably, Robert Smit, Peter Thomas and Barry Ostrager. The arbitration practice remains integrated with the litigation department.
Its clients have included both sovereigns and multinational corporations, and it’s also frequently sought out for advice on judicial proceedings related to arbitration.
Barry Ostrager and Robert Smit work from New York and Peter Thomas from Washington, DC. Tyler Robinson in London also participates regularly in the firm’s arbitration work.
The firm is also situated in Los Angeles, Palo Alto, Beijing, Hong Kong, Tokyo and São Paulo.
Who uses it?
Clients have included Andersen Consulting (today known as Accenture), General Electric, Bechtel, New Brunswick Corporation and the Dominican Republic.
Accenture retained Simpson Thacher when it was seeking to break away from Arthur Andersen and Andersen Worldwide. After proceedings in Geneva and New York – and participation from 140 members of the former accounting firm, plus ancillary judicial proceedings – the firm secured its client an alimony-free “global divorce”; the other side wanted US$14 billion in exit damages. The case was widely reported as one of the largest ICC arbitrations of its day.
Simpson Thacher was also the firm that recovered damages for General Electric and Bechtel in bilateral investment treaty arbitrations over India’s expropriation of investments in the US$6 billion Dabhol Power Project in Maharashtra.
Other happy clients include New Brunswick Power Corporation (which emerged well from a case against Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA over a long-term fuel supply agreement).
The firm also helped the Dominican Republic fend off three parallel claims worth US$700 million, filed by French bank Société Générale and US subsidiaries concerning a privatisation agreement. The dispute included the first-ever DR-CAFTA claim – administered by the PCA in The Hague – and a BIT case administered by the LCIA. The state eventually settled all three cases for US$26 million – not a bad result.
Although she left in 2009, the firm was proud of the news that a former member of its international arbitration team – Dominican-born Julissa Reynoso – was picked by President Obama to be the US ambassador to Uruguay, aged only 36. Reynoso had spent three years at the firm, including working on the Dominican Republic cases mentioned above.
The firm has been asked to advise a leading Japanese pharmaceutical manufacturer in an ICC arbitration about a licensing dispute. The case – featuring a best-selling drug and its US manufacturer – has been divided into three phases; Simpson Thacher has won the first two phases. The outcome is estimated to be worth US$500 million or more.