Arbitrator and IA practice co-chair Henri Alvarez QC was appointed to the HKIAC’s governing council in 2011. Meanwhile, the firm helped negotiate a US$1 billion settlement for a mining client
This 650-plus lawyer Canadian firm grew its name in international arbitration largely thanks to the Henri Alvarez QC, who can lay claim to being one of the world’s leading arbitrators.
Alvarez entered the field from an unusual direction: the world of labour and employment arbitration. That professional start, plus language skills and training in common and civil law (and some luck, he insists) combined to make him very appointable to commercial and later investment arbitration cases. Before he graduated to nearly full-time arbitrator work, Alvarez was a leading authority on Canada’s national arbitration law and was advocate on seminal cases, including United Mexican States v Metalclad. In that case he defended a NAFTA award made against Mexico over the expropriation of a hazardous waste facility.
Fasken Martineau has six offices in its native Canada, which are home to a number of QCs who’ve handled international arbitrations and worked on several treaty cases.
In 2009, it extended into Continental Europe by buying the Parisian boutique Gravel Leclerc & Partners and making lateral hires from Dewey & LeBoeuf. Those moves brought in three partners with experience in international arbitration arising out of mining and similar sectors in French-speaking Africa. The firm also has an office in London where some arbitration work takes place, usually for oil and gas, mining, shipping, insurance and financial services clients.
Who uses it?
Investor-state arbitrations seem to make up much of Fasken Martineau’s case work, something that’s been true since the early days of its practice – it represented Raymond Loewen, who was the first claimant ever to bring an arbitration against the US under NAFTA.
Canada’s First Quantum retained the firm for ICSID and ICC claims against the Democratic Republic of the Congo over alleged mining expropriations. Natural resources and energy clients are regular clients, but the scope of the firm’s work isn’t limited to those sectors. In 2009, partner René Cadieux advised Belgian port operator Katoen Natie on a potential investor-state claim against Uruguay over a concession to operate a container terminal in the Port of Montevideo.
Although not especially famous among the wider arbitration community, Fasken Martineau has had some eye-catching results. In 2006, members of the firm helped a Cypriot investor win some US$46 million in damages from Hungary in an ICSID case over the expropriation of Budapest International Airport. A team from Fasken Martineau also helped Canadian telecoms provider Telus to go through, first, arbitration with a commercial customer; and then enforcement of the award in the Supreme Court of British Columbia in 2010.
In 2011, Henri Alvarez QC was appointed to the Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre’s governing council, where he is the only board member permanently based outside Hong Kong.
For the past 12 months, senior associate Tina Cicchetti in Vancouver has been president of the Young Canadian Arbitration Practitioners after being elected for a one-year term in late 2010.
As this edition of GAR 100 was going to press, First Quantum announced that it would withdraw its ICC and ICSID claims against the Democratic Republic of the Congo after agreeing a US$1.25 billion settlement. Kazakhstan’s Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation will pay the money in exchange for First Quantum’s interests in three projects in the DRC.