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GAR 100 - 9th Edition

Betto Seraglini

17 February 2016

Now three years old, the Paris boutique gained a partner

Pending cases as counsel 9
Value of pending counsel work US$17 billion
Treaty cases 0
Current arbitrator appointments 12 (of which 7 are
as sole or chair)
Lawyers sitting as arbitrator 4

Betto Seraglini was formed in 2013 by Jean-Georges Betto, formerly of Hogan Lovells, and Christophe Seraglini from White & Case.

Both had an impressive track record at their former firms. In 2010, Betto helped French naval defence contractor DCNS settle a billion-euro arbitration with Spanish state-owned shipbuilder Navantia over the alleged theft of trade secrets concerning a new model of submarine. Two years later, he helped the same company knock out the bulk of a €45 million ICC claim brought by the Taiwanese government.

Seraglini was part of the White & Case team that helped a Lebanese businessman win a €550 million award against the Republic of the Congo in 2013 in a dispute over a 30-year old debt.

The new boutique also includes partners Thierry Tomasi and Gaëlle Le Quillec, and six associates. It is particularly well known for West Africa-related work.

Who uses it?

The firm represents French aircraft engineering company Safran Group in disputes relating to the civil aviation industry and has also acted for railway company Alstom Transport, French hospitality group Accor, UK energy company, Adeo Group and the government of Gabon. DCNS has stayed loyal to Betto, to good effect.

It also represents Bernard Tapie, the controversial French businessman whose €403 million arbitral award against a French state entity over the sale of the Adidas sportswear group in the 1990s has become a national scandal.

Track record

The team led DCNS to victory in an ICC claim against a subsidiary of Italian defence contractor Finmeccanica over a cancelled torpedo venture. In 2014, a tribunal ordered the Italian company to pay €6 million to DCNS and dismissed a €78 million counterclaim.

It also helped DCNS prevail as respondent in a US$180 million claim brought over a failed joint venture in the Middle East. The claim was dismissed in its entirety, with costs awarded to their client.

Gabon turned to Betto Seraglini to defend a US$1 billion ICC claim brought by Chinese-owned Addax Petroleum over oilfield rights. The firm won an early round of that case in 2013, with the tribunal refusing to grant interim measures in Addax’s favour. The dispute settled in 2014.

Recent events

The Paris Court of Appeal appeal overturned Tapie’s arbitral award after finding evidence of fraud in the arbitral process but “L’affaire Tapie” is still going on. With Emmanuel Gaillard of Shearman & Sterling taking over the businessman’s cause, it was left to Betto Seraglini to represent one of his companies in litigation to consider the merits of the original dispute. That, too was unsuccessful. Tapie was ordered to repay his arbitral award.

More successfully, the firm defended Adeo subsidiary Leroy Merlin, a French DIY chain, against a €18 million ICC claim over its termination of a commercial lease in Greece following the financial crisis.

In the final award in 2015 the chain was required to pay only €2.5 million.

Continuing work includes a €10 million claim against Togo for hotel operator Accor Group.

Other work relating to West Africa includes an ICC claim against Niger and Benin on behalf AfricaRail. GAR has also linked the firm to a claim brought against Guinea on behalf of Russian aluminium company Rusal. Canadian-owned uranium miner Khan Resources has instructed the firm to defend a US$104 million ECT award against Mongolia in the French courts.

New partner Julien Fouret joined from Castaldi Mourre. Fouret was previously counsel of the secretariat at the ICC International Court of Arbitration. Meanwhile, partner Gaëlle Le Quillec was elected to the Paris Bar Council, as one of only two international arbitration lawyers along with Clifford Chance’s Jean-Pierre Grandjean.

Client comment

Pascal Longy, in-house counsel at French aircraft manufacturer Snecma (part of the Safran Group) praises Betto Seraglini for its care over all aspects of the arbitration and detailed preparation of the case.

A client from Brazil says that the team impressed with its ability to grasp Brazilian law in addition to French and international law.

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