Pursuing a DR-CAFTA claim against Costa Rica
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8 (of which 4 are as sole or chair)
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This Canadian firm grew its name in international arbitration largely thanks to Henri Alvarez QC, who can lay claim to being one of the world’s leading arbitrators. He was named the best prepared/most responsive arbitrator at the 2014 GAR Awards.
Alvarez, who is based in Vancouver, 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 is a leading authority on Canada’s national arbitration law and was an advocate in seminal cases, including United Mexican States v Metalclad, where he defended a NAFTA award made against Mexico over the expropriation of a hazardous waste facility.
These days, the arbitration group is chaired by partner Sarah Armstrong in Toronto. Other names to know are Vancouver-based Geoffrey Cowper QC and the recently promoted Tina Cicchetti.
The key offices for arbitration are Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa. It also has a foothold in London and Johannesburg.
Who uses it?
Arbitration clients span the energy, natural resources, trade, financial services, construction and transport sectors. They include Canada’s First Quantum Minerals, Paris-based engineering company Technip and Hong Kong’s CK Life Sciences International.
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 2012, it helped First Quantum negotiate a US$1.25 billion settlement of its ICSID and ICC claims against the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Kazakhstan’s Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation agreed to pay the money in exchange for First Quantum’s interests in three projects in the DRC.
The firm’s most high-profile work in the past year has been representing a group of US investors in a US$50 million claim against Costa Rica under the Central America Free Trade Agreement. The case concerns the state’s alleged failure to compensate them for beachfront properties that were expropriated to establish a national park. A hearing on jurisdiction and the merits took place in Washington in April 2015, which was livestreamed by ICSID in accordance with the treaty’s transparency provisions.
Partner Dominique Gibbens left the firm in 2015 to take up an appointment as justice at the Quebec Court of Justice. Litigator Paul Monahan left to take up a similar role at the Ontario Court of Justice.
One client in Quebec says that Montreal-based partner Martin Sheehan has an efficient management style that helped it save money, describing him as an “experienced and effective lawyer” who was sensitive to the cultural differences between the Quebecois company and the other parties involved in the arbitration.