This “lean and mean” boutique is a GAR Award winner
|People in Who’s Who Legal||2|
|Pending cases as counsel||15|
|Value of pending counsel work||US$1 billion|
|Current arbitrator appointments||19 (of which 10 are
as sole or chair)
|Lawyers sitting as arbitrator||3|
ArbLit was launched by Luca Radicati di Brozolo and Michele Sabatini, who broke away from Bonelli Erede Pappalardo, Italy’s largest law firm, in 2013. The Milan-based outfit made its debut in the GAR 100 in 2015 and was recognised at the GAR Awards in the same year as the “boutique or regional practice that impressed”.
A well-known name in Italy, Radicati di Brozolo is also highly regarded for his expertise in EU and antitrust law, and was head of the competition department at Italy’s Chiomenti Studio Legale in the 1990s, when he also headed the firm’s Brussels office. He joined Bonelli in 2001, later heading its London disputes desk. Also a door tenant at Fountain Court Chambers in London, he has sat as arbitrator at the ICC and LCIA, as well as the Milan Chamber of Arbitration and the Geneva Chamber of Commerce and Industry. In addition, he is chair of private international law at the Catholic University of Milan and a former vice chair of the International Bar Association’s arbitration committee.
Sabatini, who was a senior associate at Bonelli but joined ArbLit as partner, also sits as arbitrator in ICC cases and the Milan chamber. He is a member of the Milan and New York bars, and has particular expertise in FIDIC disputes. The other name partner is Massimo Benedettelli, who joined in 2014 from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer in Milan and is also an arbitrator and professor of international law.
In an interview with GAR, Radicati di Brozolo says the firm favours a “lean and mean” model but is ready to team up with individuals or firms in other countries for specific cases.
Who uses it?
Telecom Italia, Tenova and Finmeccanica are among the firm’s major Italian clients, while it has also lately been advising German steelmaker Thyssenkrupp. Another client is Italian construction group Consta in claims against Ethiopian and Djiboutian state entities under the rules of the European Development Fund.
In the investment treaty sphere, it is representing the International PhotoVoltaic Investors Club in six claims against the Czech Republic relating to the country’s reforms to its solar power sector. ArbLit was brought in by the claimants to replace another firm.
In 2013 and 2015, the firm won favourable jurisdictional rulings in two trailblazing ICSID cases against Argentina, brought on behalf of Italian bondholders affected by the state’s debt default. Disappointingly, both cases were discontinued in 2015 after the claimants ran out of funds, but the decisions will stand as valuable precedents for future treaty claims over sovereign debt.
Radicati di Brozolo is no stranger to breaking new ground at ICSID. At his former firm, he was counsel to Italian oil company Saipem in a landmark ICSID case against Bangladesh, where a state court’s interference in an ICC arbitration was held to amount to an expropriation.
Luigi Patanè, a former CEO of Consta, describes the ArbLit team as “a very good mix between experience and dynamism”. The firm’s small size guarantees “easy and direct contact” with the partners managing the case, he adds.
Frank Schulte, a member of the solar investors’ club suing the Czech Republic, describes Radicati di Brozolo and Sabatini as “excellent lawyers” whose in-depth involvement in the case “really makes them superior”.
Another client, an Italian company active in Romanian public works projects that instructed ArbLit for a FIDIC dispute, says the firm has “an effective network of associates” that are especially useful for dealing with local-law issues.