The firm has rebuilt its strength in the US and is now part of the Czech Republic’s “dream team” for energy disputes.
- People in Who’s Who:
- Pending cases as counsel:
- Value of pending counsel work:
- US$10 billion
- Treaty cases:
- Current arbitrator appointments:
- 7 (of which 4 are as sole or chair)
- No. of lawyers sitting as arbitrator:
Weil Gotshal’s international dispute resolution group has had some ups and downs in the past few years but seems to be settling down under the management of global practice leader Juliet Blanch in London.
Partner Eric Ordway in New York is regarded as a lynchpin of the practice. He defended the government of Ecuador in a treaty claim brought by Canadian oil company Encana over VAT payments – winning the complete dismissal of the case. Another prominent figure is Charles “Chip” Roh in Washington, DC. He’s a trade law specialist who worked at the US Trade Representative for five years, also serving as deputy chief negotiator of NAFTA. He also does WTO and GATT work.
The key offices for arbitration are New York, Washington, DC, London and some of the offices in Eastern Europe – Prague and Warsaw in particular.
Who uses it?
The US team has defended Ecuador in several major investment arbitrations brought by foreign oil companies. It also advised the Canadian government in several LCIA matters that developed out of the Softwood Lumber Agreement with the US.
The Czech government, CEZ, Telefónica, Samsung Electronics and AIG have also retained the firm in arbitration proceedings.
Meanwhile, the Warsaw office represented Vivendi Telecom in arbitration and court proceedings related to the battle with Deutsche Telekom over property rights to Polska Telefonia Cyfrowa. The case was one of the most important legal matters in Poland.
The New York office won a major case for Sanofi-Aventis US in a dispute with the Warner Chilcott Companies and its pharmaceuticals business.
A team in Prague successfully defended the Czech Republic against a US$55 million UNCITRAL claim brought by Canada’s Frontier Petroleum. A panel at the PCA threw the case out in late 2010 and awarded costs to the state.
The Budapest team scored a victory for Czech energy group CEZ concerning electricity supply agreements with the Hungarian state-owned Vértesi power plant. Although it wasn’t the largest sum of money – €6 million or so – the case was regarded as setting an important legal precedent in Hungary and the wider region.
The London arbitration group meanwhile helped a part of the former Lehman Brothers group recover tens of millions of dollars from a former counterparty, an Asian bank, in LCIA arbitration.
The firm has produced mixed results for Ecuador. It won the Encana case mentioned above – but an ICC claim it brought on behalf of state hydro utility Hidropastaza against Brazil’s national development bank, BNDES, was dismissed. The utility had been trying to review the interest on a US$243 million loan it took out to build a power plant. The partner who’d been in charge of that case has moved firms.
The firm said goodbye to the head of its arbitration and trade practice, Guillermo Aguilar-Alvarez, in late 2010. A leading Mexican arbitrator and academic, he’s joined King & Spalding in New York. (He was also chair of the panel in BG Group v Argentina – the UNCITRAL award that was controversially overturned by a US appeal court in January 2011).
In mid-2011, Juliet Blanch – who’d joined the firm only the year before from McDermott Will & Emery – was appointed global head of the firm’s international arbitration practice. She continues to be based in London.
Jamie Maples, in the London office, was promoted to the partnership in late 2011.
Meanwhile, Prague-based partner Karolína Horáková was appointed by the Czech government to be part of a “dream team” of arbitration specialists advising the state on dozens of potential Energy Charter Treaty claims arising from a tax on solar power profits. The government exercised a national security exemption in its public tender law because of the potential risk to the economy. Horáková will work alongside renowned barristers James Crawford SC and Zachary Douglas of Matrix Chambers, as well as US lawyers from Squire Sanders.
As this book went to press, GAR learned that Crowell & Moring’s international arbitration practice chair Arif Ali is joining Weil Gotshal in DC in early 2012, along with three other Crowell partners: Alexandre de Gramont and Theodore Posner, also in Washington, DC, and US-Egyptian national Samaa Haridi in New York.