Vera Van Houtte anchors the Stibbe practice.
A merger between two firms from the Low Countries – one Belgian, one Dutch; both nearly 90 years old at the time – created Stibbe (originally Stibbe & Simont) in 1991. For a while it had a French arm too, but after an eight-year merger with a Parisian firm ended, it rebranded and refocused in 2001. Today, the firm has offices in Brussels, Amsterdam, New York, London, Dubai and, most recently, Luxembourg. It also has a dedicated China practice comprising native Chinese (Mandarin and Cantonese) speakers – in the past it represented a major Chinese manufacturer of household goods in an ICC arbitration.
In 2002, Stibbe formed an alliance with German firm Gleiss Lutz and the UK’s Herbert Smith. The UK firm has recently broken off the arrangement, however, after deciding a full merger wasn’t on the cards.
From an arbitration perspective, the key office is Brussels where partner Vera Van Houtte is based.
Van Houtte, who acts as counsel and arbitrator, focuses on disputes relating to buildings, industrial installations, infrastructure works and technical services. In 2009, she was elected a member of the board of the American Arbitration Association and also became a vice president of the ICC Court of Arbitration. She’s renowned in the field of construction law too.
In February 2012, Van Houtte received her first-ever ICSID appointment – as chair of a panel hearing a claim by French port management company Getma against the Republic of Guinea. Her co-panellists in that case are well-known figures in the field: Bernardo Cremades of Spain and Pierre Tercier of Switzerland.