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GAR 100 - 5th Edition

Chadbourne & Parke

05 March 2012

In 2010, Chadbourne & Parke celebrated 20 years in Moscow with an opulent celebration in a grand location. One attendee described the venue as “Moscow’s answer to Versailles”

People in Who’s Who:
2
Pending cases as counsel:
47
Value of pending counsel work:
US$20 billion
Treaty cases:
11
Current arbitrator appointments:
17 (of which 10 are as sole or chair)
No. of lawyers sitting as arbitrator:
5

Founded in 1902, the US firm has grown on the strength of its name in project finance, energy, and insurance and reinsurance. As such, it was one of the first foreign law firms to open in Moscow and other emerging markets. It has two offices in Latin America and boasts that nearly 40 per cent of its lawyers speak Russian, Spanish or Portuguese.

Its network grew in part by taking over the central and eastern European offices of Altheimer & Gray and Coudert Brothers when they dissolved.

While dispute resolution has long been a core area, until four years ago the international arbitration element lacked focus and seemed to be confined to certain national markets or else connected with the other practice areas.

In 2007, a series of arbitration-focused lateral hires started to pull those threads together. In Dubai, where it once had a presence, the firm opened an office led by Jack Greenwald, an arbitration specialist with 25 years’ experience in the UAE. Not long after, a team of respected arbitration figures from the now-defunct Thacher Proffitt & Wood joined – chiefly Oliver Armas and Thomas Pieper in New York, plus the highly respected Luis Enrique Graham and Salvador Fonseca in Mexico. The Spanish-speaking arbitration capability received a further boost with the arrival of investment treaty specialist Ignacio Suarez Anzorena in Washington, DC. Suarez joined from Clifford Chance and is a former counsel at Argentina’s Treasury Attorney General’s Office (the body that represents the state in international arbitration matters) and worked on many of the Argentina ICSID claims.

In 2010, the practice established a foothold in London after laterally recruiting Melanie Willems, the former head of international arbitration at Howrey, who joined with a three-lawyer team, including senior associate Markus Esly.

Network

The firm has offices in Mexico City, São Paulo, London, Moscow, Kiev, Almaty, Warsaw, Istanbul, Dubai and Beijing.

Who uses it?

Its clients are mostly from the construction, energy, pharmaceuticals and financial services sectors.

One is Italian power group Enel, which retained the firm for a Spanish-language arbitration against a Salvadorean state entity over control of a geothermal power plant.

Another is Mexico’s Pemex, which it advised in one of the largest arbitrations ever commenced in Latin America – a US$1.4 billion international arbitration against a joint venture arising out of an oil and gas project in Mexico. That case had more than 25,000 claims in dispute.

Track record

The Enel case ended in a win, with the firm’s client proving that the Salvadorean side was in breach of a shareholders’ agreement. An ICC tribunal granted Enel’s claim for specific performance and damages, and dismissed a counterclaim.

The team also upset French multinational Total’s plans in a high-profile LCIA case (over rights to the biggest oil field in Siberia: the Vankor field in the Krasnoyarsk region). Chadbourne & Parke, representing the respondent – a subsidiary of a Russian state-owned oil company – had the claim dismissed.

Meanwhile, the Latin America dispute resolution practice described itself as “vindicated” when the Mexican Supreme Court reinstated an award obtained by Luis Enrique Graham.

Chadbourne & Parke also helped Chilean natural gas company Innergy – which was at risk of going out of business over the issue – obtain a settlement with Argentina in an ICDR case. The case flowed from Argentina’s sovereign default – and was one of the first “downstream” matters to test whether governmental actions can give a private party the right to invoke “economic hardship” as a basis for force majeure.

The team has had success at the enforcement stage too, and lays claim to what it describes as one of the “classic” cases: when representing Colombian pharmaceutical company Tecnoquimicas in a dispute with a US party over product licensing and distribution in Latin America, the firm prevented enforcement of an arbitral award and the related attachment of assets in a federal court in New York.

Recent events

The firm opened an office in Istanbul office recently, reinforcing its presence in central and eastern Europe, Russia and the Middle East.

Salvador Fonseca, who was promoted to partner last year, left the firm to head Baker & McKenzie’s disputes practice in Mexico City. Meanwhile, the Washington, DC, office welcomed Michael Socarras, who brings experience in Latin America and Russia. He joined from McDermott Will & Emery, where his clients included military contractor Blackwater.

Luis Enrique Graham was recently named a member of the advisory committee of Mexico’s Ministry of Public Service.

Ignacio Suarez Anzorena featured in GAR’s latest “45 under 45” and was invited by the International Institute for Sustainable Development to teach a training seminar on investment arbitration to 11 African governments at the Trade Policy Training Centre in Africa.

On the work front, Suarez and Pieper helped Germany’s Oiltanking and Peru’s Graña y Montero construction group reach a US$16 million settlement with the government of Bolivia – discontinuing an UNCITRAL claim at The Hague that they had brought concerning the 2006 expropriation of a fuel storage business.

Client comment

One client praises the firm’s “value add” approach and singles out Jack Greenwald as an “exceptional individual [...] a true intellectual who operates with the utmost integrity.”

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