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GAR 100 - 5th Edition

Bredin Prat

05 March 2012

The top-notch Parisian firm suffered a sad loss in 2011, but otherwise had a strong year

Who’s Who names:
Raed Fathallah and Tim Portwood

Bredin Prat lost “one of the greats”, according to reports, when name partner Jean-François Prat died recently. But though poorer without him, there’s no sign of the firm slipping from its exalted position in the French market.

The firm was founded by Jean-Denis Bredin and Robert Badinter in 1966, as a specialist in civil and criminal disputes. When Badinter left in 1981, it was Prat who gave it a new focus, turning it into one of Paris’s premier M&A boutiques.

Jean-Denis Bredin remains in practice – and works both as counsel and arbitrator. He is on a panel hearing an ICSID claim against Burundi. But it is now partners Tim Portwood, Louis Christophe Delanoy and Raed Fathallah who form the core arbitration team.

The team they oversee offers a blend of common law and civil experience – Tim Portwood is one of the few senior Parisian lawyers to have begun at the English bar. It also includes lawyers with Spanish and Italian backgrounds. Raed Fathallah speaks fluent Arabic and has extensive connections in the Middle East and the Gulf. Portwood and Fathallah were at the top of the runners-up list the last GAR “45 under 45”.

The arbitration practice has expanded steadily in recent years. It secured a lateral associate hire from blue-chip Parisian firm Darrois Villey Maillot Brochier – Andrea Pinna – in 2009. Spanish practitioner Carmen Nuñez-Lagos is a member of the ICC task force considering how to improve arbitration involving states or state entities.

Track record

The practice works for a combination of European blue chips and French-speaking governments, and enjoys a good recent track record.

Not long ago, it secured a substantial win on behalf of Algeria’s state oil company Sonatrach against Spain’s Gas Natural, represented by Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, in a pricing dispute. The ICC award ordered the Spanish company to pay Sonatrach over US$2 billion it had withheld, pending renegotiation of a pricing clause.

It has also achieved three consecutive victories at ICSID on behalf of Egypt, in claims brought by a US textile company, two cotton investors and a pair of Belgian dredging companies.

Recent events

Raed Fathallah was promoted to the partnership in January 2011.

Instructed by the Democratic Republic of the Congo to defend it in high-profile ICC and ICSID arbitration claims brought by Canadian mining company First Quantum, the team succeeded in reaching a settlement and having the claims withdrawn in early 2012.

Less happily, in late 2011 a Greek construction company succeeded in overturning an arbitral award in favour of Bredin Prat’s client, Tecnimont, at the Reims Court of Appeal because of doubt about an arbitrator’s independence.

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