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GAR 100 - 5th Edition

De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek

05 March 2012

De Brauw has been a driving force of the Dutch arbitration bar and has been on some big cases of late

Pending cases as counsel:
17
Value of pending counsel work:
US$6 billion (includes Yukos)
Treaty cases:
3

The firm has a long tradition in arbitration – former partner Lodewijk Sillevis Smitt was president of the Netherlands Arbitration Institute for almost 20 years until his retirement in 2003.

More recently, the firm has seen rapid growth in the arbitration group, driven by various factors, including the emergence of pricing disputes in the European gas industry, in which the Netherlands is central.

The team is proud of the fact that all of its current arbitration partners are home-grown.

Network

De Brauw has been in New York office for nearly 40 years, and in London for more than 20. It recently opened in Brussels and Beijing.

Who uses it?

Lots of Dutch and non-Dutch multinationals, including AkzoNobel, Dutch Railways, Johnson & Johnson, Philips, Shell, Telefónica and Unilever. It’s also adviser to the government of Ecuador in Chevron-related set-aside proceedings at The Hague.

Track record

De Brauw lawyers are among those who caught the wave of gas-pricing disputes that broke in Europe a few years ago.

The firm has won two separate billion-dollar cases on behalf of GasTerra – a joint venture formed by Shell, ExxonMobil and the Dutch government. In one, the client was embroiled in arbitral proceedings against an Italian energy company over the export of gas from the Netherlands to Italy. Eventually, the various tribunals sided with GasTerra on almost all the relevant points, ruling that the company was allowed to increase its prices.

The team also bagged a big win for Eureko in 2010, in UNCITRAL proceedings against Slovakia. The decision set a precedent for investment treaties between members of the European Union. The ruling was voted “arbitration decision of the year” by OGEMID.

Recent events

The firm promoted two lawyers to partner who sit within the arbitration group in 2011: Bregje Korthals Altes and Edward van Geuns.

Altes handles disputes in the energy and technology sectors in both national courts and in arbitration. Geuns also covers energy, as well as transport and construction. From 2009 to 2010, he was seconded to the arbitration team at Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom in New York.

The firm saw an influx of disputes – litigation and arbitration – relating to Russia and the Middle East. Among other things, it has begun representing a group of companies from former Russian oil company Yukos in proceedings stemming from the bankruptcy of Yukos Oil.

It was also asked by Telefónica to initiate arbitral proceedings against Portugal Telecom, after the Portuguese government used its golden shares to block an M&A bid. Soon after, Portugal Telecom changed its stance and agreed to the sale.

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