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GAR 100 - 9th Edition

Bredin Prat

17 February 2016

ICSID clients now include Lebanon, Jordan and Croatia

People in Who’s Who Legal 1
Pending cases as counsel 11
Value of pending counsel work US$2.4 billion
Treaty cases 4
Current arbitrator appointments 18 (of which 9 are
as sole or chair)
Lawyers sitting as arbitrator 4

This Paris firm was founded by Jean-Denis Bredin and Robert Badinter in 1966, with a focus on civil and criminal disputes. When Badinter left in 1981, partner Jean-François Prat gave it a new focus, turning it into one of Paris’s premier M&A boutiques. It ventured early into investment arbitration: Bredin defended Egypt in the landmark Southern Pacific Properties case in the 1980s – the first ICSID claim brought under a domestic investment statute.

Jean-Denis Bredin, now 86, remains in practice as counsel and arbitrator but these days the firm’s core arbitration team is made up of partners Tim Portwood, Louis Christophe Delanoy, José María Pérez and Raëd Fathallah.

The team offers a blend of common and civil law experience – Portwood is one of the few senior Parisian lawyers to have begun at the English bar. Fathallah, who is Canadian-Lebanese, speaks fluent Arabic and has connections in the Middle East and the Gulf. Pérez is Ecuador’s alternate member of the ICC International Court of Arbitration.

Bredin Prat is also part of a “best friends” network with five other GAR 100 firms: Bonelli Erede in Italy, De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek in the Netherlands, Hengeler Mueller in Germany, Slaughter and May in the UK, and Uria Menendez in Spain.

Who uses it?

The practice works for a combination of European blue-chips and French-speaking governments. Egypt, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Algeria have used it. Other clients include Rusal, the world’s largest aluminium producer; and Italian engineering group Tecnimont.

Track record

One of the firm’s most notable wins was for Algerian state oil company Sonatrach in a gas pricing dispute with Spain’s Gas Natural at the ICC. The Spanish company was ordered to pay over US$2 billion in withheld funds, pending renegotiation of a pricing clause. Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer was on the other side.

At ICSID, Bredin Prat has had four successive wins on behalf of Egypt. In 2014, it persuaded a tribunal to toss out a US$36 million treaty claim on the grounds that the claimant, an Egyptian gas company, was not under foreign control. Between 2006 and 2008, the firm also helped the state defeat three claims brought by US textiles company Ahmonseto, cotton investor Champion Trading, and Belgian dredging company Jan de Nul.

It helped Rusal obtain a favourable award in an ICC dispute with Guinea over the privatisation of a mining complex. The tribunal affirmed the validity of a share purchase agreement, frustrating Guinea’s attempt to bring the mine back under state control. Rusal has also used the firm in a successful LCIA claim against Nigeria.

The firm defended the Democratic Republic of the Congo in high-profile ICC and ICSID arbitration claims brought by Canadian mining company First Quantum. The parties reached a settlement in 2012.

In French Supreme Court proceedings, Bredin Prat also helped Tecnimont to reinstate an award against Greek construction group J&P Avax, which had been set aside because of an arbitrator’s conflict of interests.

Recent events

Bredin Prat scored a noteworthy jurisdictional victory in February 2015 when it persuaded an ICSID tribunal to allow a US$300 million claim brought by Turkish businessman Muhammet Çap against Turkemenistan. The tribunal held that the treaty in question didn’t require investors to pursue local litigation before turning to arbitration – departing from an earlier panel’s reading of the same treaty.

In March, it helped US national Hassan Awdi win €8 million plus interest in an ICSID claim against Romania concerning investments in a press distribution business and boutique hotel. While partly prevailing on liability, the client won significantly less than the amount he had claimed for.

The firm also helped Egypt to settle an ICSID claim brought by Indonesian-owned textiles group Indorama over the nationalisation of a factory. Egypt reportedly paid around one-third of what had originally been claimed. Bredin Prat is still defending the state in another ICSID claim brought by Spanish cement companies.

New ICSID instructions have come from Lebanon, for a claim broughy by a German investor in a private jet business; Jordan, for a claim by French Orange; and Croatia, in a dispute with a Dutch private equity firm over an investment in the postal services industry.

As for commercial work, the firm has been instructed by a Middle Eastern broadcaster in an ICC arbitration worth US$1.5 billion, and by a North African oil and gas company in a US$2.5 billion claim relating to the revision of a gas price clause.

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