The merged firm has brought together the strength of the legacy Lovells practice in Europe and Asia with the prominent US and Latin American experience of the former Hogan & Hartson
- People in Who’s Who:
- Pending cases as counsel:
- Value of pending counsel work:
- US$23 billion
- Treaty cases:
- Current arbitrator appointments:
- 22 (of which 12 is as sole or chair)
- No. of lawyers sitting as arbitrator:
Lovells and Hogan Hartson merged on 1 May 2010, bringing together two big international arbitration practices with complementary geographical footprints.
Lovells’ practice became an independent department in 1999, although the firm had long been recognised as one of the city firm’s more focused on dispute resolution than some of its rivals. And it had created a network through mergers with like-minded firms: Boesebeck Droste in Germany; Dutch firm Ekelmans Den Hollander; Siméon & Associés in France; and Singaporean firm Lee & Lee.
Hogan & Hartson’s more US and Latin America-focused international arbitration practice is also more than a decade old. Lawyers in its practice, among other things, were the first to act in an investment arbitration that entailed parallel claims under the Energy Charter Treaty, a bilateral investment treaty and an international contract.
The combined practice has 130 lawyers worldwide and is headed by Michael Davison in London (from the Lovells side) and Daniel González in Miami (from Hogan & Hartson). In an interview soon after the merger, they spoke of the “personal chemistry” already in place between key individuals in the teams and said the two groups had already learned a lot from each other: “We want to be more than the sum of our parts.” But as Gonzalez explained, “the key thing has been getting to know each other’s people and each other’s clients.”
Key offices for the arbitration group are Dubai, Frankfurt, Hong Kong, London, Madrid, Miami, Milan, Moscow, Munich, New York, Paris, Singapore, Washington, DC, and, to a lesser degree, Abu Dhabi, Caracas and Ho Chi Minh City. The firm also has strategic alliances in India, Mongolia and Saudi Arabia.
Who uses it?
The merged firm is proving popular with governments. It’s working for Mongolia, in an Energy Charter Treaty investment arbitration over uranium mining rights, and for the government of Ontario, in an LCIA arbitration to resolve a long-standing dispute with the US over softwood lumber exports.
It has also won instructions from China, Mexico, Montenegro, Slovakia, Venezuela and Vietnam.
Corporate clients include Alfa Group, Alstom, Americatel El Salvador, BHP Billiton, Central America Beverage Corporation, ConocoPhillips, EMI, Enel, ExxonMobil, Ford, Hard Rock, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, PDVSA, PEMEX, SABMiller, Siemens, Singapore Sports Council, Statoil, Telemovil and Vodafone. A win for Sabre International’s Argentina branch in an American Arbitration Association led to it representing multiple subsidiaries of the company – one of the world’s largest retailers of travel products – in arbitrations in London, New York and Miami.
Shell is understood to be a major client. According to a recent report in UK newspaper The Times, it also acts for the estate of Georgian billionaire Badri Patarkatsishvili.
The Lovells team secured a big result a few years back for SABMiller and its Tanzanian subsidiary in an ICC arbitration connected to the “African beer wars”. The dispute arose from the breakdown of a joint venture with Diageo’s Kenyan subsidiary.
It also finished on top in an unusual case heard in Singapore. The firm representing France’s Alstom group against Insigma in Singapore. The case became famous when Lovells persuaded the SIAC tribunal to apply ICC rules. Alstom eventually won too.
Also in Asia, the firm obtained an award for administrators of bankrupt German construction group Walter Bau in ICSID proceedings against Thailand (the case has now developed into a colourful enforcement battle that saw the seizure of the Thai crown prince’s jet at Munich Airport).
Meanwhile, the Hogan & Hartson part of the practice ran a series of successful cases on behalf of Americatel in the US and Central America against Mexican telecoms entrepreneur Carlos Slim and América Móvil. It also obtained a win on behalf of PKN Orlen, defending an €800 million claim by a Czech chemicals company.
The firm has promoted three new partners since the last GAR 100. Jonathan Leach was promoted in Singapore in 2011, while the new year crop of promotions included Richard Kiddell in London and Terence Wong in Shanghai.
New counsel or of counsel include Alejandro López Ortiz in Madrid, Gaëlle Le Quillec in Paris, Alexander Scard in Moscow, Ivan Shiu in London and Markus Burgstaller in London.
Dubai-based counsel and arbitrator Stephen York sadly passed away in August after a battle with cancer.
The firm’s total number of arbitrations decreased slightly during the research period; however, the value rose 25 per cent to around the US$23 billion mark. Among its recent instructions are disputes in Mexico, Panama and the Dominican Republic, thanks to the Miami office’s reputation for representing power generation firms.
The firm is also at the heart of the debate on whether intra-EU BITs continue to be applicable. A case on behalf of Slovakia (in which it is challenging a jurisdictional award under the Netherlands-Slovakia bilateral investment treaty in the German courts) is expected to be precedent-setting.
A Lithuanian client said he was impressed by the firm’s “wide and deep law knowledge” and its focus on key issues rather than side issues. “What distinguishes the team is its consistency and reliability in terms of technical quality, ability to get to grips with the commercial context and the ease of their working relationship with other internal and external lawyers,” he adds. “I was impressed with the genuine consideration throughout as to whether there may be ways in which we could prioritise and sensibly cut down on the time allocated to particular work streams – as opposed to simply throwing further junior lawyers at them.”