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GAR 100 - 5th Edition

Dewey & LeBoeuf

05 March 2012

As well as making several hires, the firm saw off a claim against El Salvador and helped Georgia negotiate an end to the Ron Fuchs stand-off

People in Who’s Who:
1
Pending cases as counsel:
43
Value of pending counsel work:
US$6.5 billion
Treaty cases:
13
Current arbitrator appointments:
11 (of which 6 are as sole or chair)
No. of lawyers sitting as arbitrator:
1

Despite losing some well-known names in the last few years – most recently practice co-head and Asia specialist Arthur Marriott QC in late 2010 – the Dewey team continues to work on some impressively high-profile cases.

Today, its practice is co-chaired by recent arrival James Carter in New York (Carter was co-head of international arbitration at Sullivan & Cromwell) and Deborah Ruff in London, who’s known especially for her work on energy and insurance matters. Derek C Smith in Washington, DC, manages the investment arbitration and PIL group, which continues to enjoy high standing and has been handling some of the first claims to be brought under the Dominican Republic-Central America Free Trade Agreement. The group also includes Luis Parada (increasingly active in Latin American work) and David Colson, an ex-Department of State lawyer with expertise in maritime boundary disputes.

Network

London, Washington, DC, New York and Warsaw are the offices where most of the international arbitration and related work takes place, but the firm has experienced hands in Houston, Milan, Moscow, Brussels, Johannesburg and Dubai.

Who uses it?

Although it has a particular niche in sports disputes (and sports law generally), away from that energy, insurance, construction and telecoms and work for states are the team’s core areas.

One of central Europe’s largest oil refiners, PKN Orlen, is using the firm for a US$250 million ICC claim against Yukos International; and a major Asian conglomerate has turned to it for help against claims arising from the collapse of a power plant and port facilities in an earthquake.

One of the firm’s biggest current engagements is helping the major shareholder of a large Middle Eastern property development group in a US$1 billion claim at the Dubai International Arbitration Centre.

El Salvador, Ghana and Georgia, Chile and Equatorial Guinea are all also using the firm (the first three in treaty claims and related proceedings; Chile for a maritime border dispute with Peru; and Equatorial Guinea in a UN-sponsored mediation with Gabon).

Track record

In 2009, the London team successfully defended Finland’s Neste Oil against a US$100 million LCIA claim brought by an Israeli trading firm. That later extended to an attempt by the losing side to have the tribunal’s decision overturned by a London court on grounds of fraud.

A Dewey’s client, the US Coalition for Fair Lumber Imports, was among the winners after an LCIA panel’s ruling on the long-running soft-wood lumber dispute between the US and Canada.

Otherwise, some of Dewey & LeBoeuf’s best moments of late have come in sporting disputes. In 2010, a cross-border team led by partner Greg Nott in Johannesburg represented Caster Semenya after she was barred by the International Association of Athletics Federations from participating in female athletics competitions pending an investigation of her true biological sex. The firm’s pro bono negotiations on her behalf got the ban lifted.

That followed similar work on behalf of double-amputee sprinter Oscar Pistorius in 2008, persuading the Court of Arbitration for Sport to overturn a decision by the IAAF that had banned him from competing in able-bodied track events and attempting to qualify for the Beijing Olympics.

Recent events

There were several newcomers in 2011 – most notably James Carter in New York, the renowned veteran arbitrator and former chair of the American Arbitration Association, with more than 40 years’ experience in the field. Other arrivals were Pieter Bekker, who joined from Crowell & Moring’s New York office and is now stationed in Brussels; and partner Nane Oganesyan, who joined as head of dispute resolution for Russia and the CIS region in Moscow. She came after 10 years at Norton Rose, bringing an associate with her. Meanwhile, the Frankfurt office hired Tanja Pfitzner, a counsel with 10 years’ experience at Freshfields, to lead a new three-lawyer disputes team.

In March 2011, the firm scored a gratifying result for El Salvador, winning the speedy dismissal of a DR-CAFTA claim by Canadian miners Commerge Group Corp and San Sebastian Gold Mines. A panel chaired by Albert Jan van den Berg upheld a preliminary objection that they had no jurisdiction because the claimants had failed to terminate local court proceedings before bringing the case to ICSID. The case marked the first successful use of a provision in DR-CAFTA for a fast-track review process. (A second claim against El Salvador by another miner, Pacific Rim, continues.)

Dewey & LeBoeuf also had a hand in one of the more sensational arbitration-related stories of 2011, after it was brought in, late-proceedings, to represent Georgia in parallel revision and annulment proceedings at ICSID against award-holders Ron Fuchs and Ioannis Kardassopoulos. In a remarkable twist, after winning their ICSID case, Fuchs and a colleague were convicted of attempted bribery by a Tbilisi court and imprisoned for more than a year. Eventually, following the intercession of Israel, Dewey’s client pardoned them in late 2011 after they agreed to accept a US$37 million settlement. The original award had been for US$98 million.

In another case, the firm’s client Telekomunikacja Polska lost its bid to set aside a €400 million partial award in favour of Danish Polish Telecommunications Group in a dispute over a fibre-optic transmission system.

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