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GAR 100 - 9th Edition

Hogan Lovells

18 February 2016

The year brought a stellar win for Suzuki and some good settlements

People in Who’s Who Legal: 7
Pending cases as counsel: 126
Value of pending counsel work: US$117.5 billion
Treaty cases: 9
Current arbitrator appointments: 37 (of which 20 are as sole or chair)
Lawyers sitting as arbitrator: 17

The 2010 merger between Hogan & Hartson and Lovells brought together two big international arbitration practices with complementary geographical footprints. The merged group combined the strength of Lovells’ practice in Europe and Asia with Hogan & Hartson’s prominence in the Americas. Since then it has expanded, hiring a Latin America-focused team from Chadbourne & Parke in 2013 and tying up with a Mexican firm a year later. More recently it has been eyeing Africa-related work.

The combined practice was initially co-led by partners from the two legacy firms: Daniel González in Miami (from Hogan & Hartson) and Michael Davison in London (from Lovells). Davison stepped down from the role in 2013, and now serves as global head of litigation, arbitration and employment at the firm. His successor Simon Nesbitt (now QC) stepped down in 2014 ahead of his move to the bar, leaving González as sole practice head.

González has set up an international arbitration steering committee formed of partners from various regions who coordinate with regard to client relationship management, lawyer training, staffing of major disputes and marketing. Its members include Karl Pörnbacher in Munich, Kieron O’Callaghan in London, Laurent Gouiffès in Paris, Luis Enrique Graham in Mexico City and Tim Hill in Hong Kong.

Network

Key offices for the arbitration group include London, Paris, Miami, New York, Singapore, Hong Kong and Washington, DC. There are other members based in Amsterdam, Madrid, Moscow, Milan, Dubai, Düsseldorf, Houston and Caracas, while recent tie-ups with local firms have given it a presence in Johannesburg and Mexico City. The firm also has strategic alliances in India, Mongolia and Saudi Arabia.

Who uses it?

Hogan Lovells is popular with governments, particularly for investment arbitration. The firm has lately been acting for Venezuela, Vietnam, Mexico, Mongolia and Slovakia on high-profile cases, and is on China’s list of preferred counsel for investment treaty advice. On the investor side, it’s representing French corporate voucher company Edenred in an ICSID claim against Hungary.

It’s also acted for state entities such as Pemex of Mexico and Venezuela’s PDVSA in commercial matters, while private energy clients include AES, Royal Dutch Shell, the UAE’s Crescent Petroleum, Enel, Eni, ExxonMobil, Iberdrola and Norway’s Statoil.

Other clients of note include Russia’s Alfa Group, Alstom, French insurer AXA, BHP Billiton, BNP Paribas, Hard Rock, Honeywell International, HTC, IBM, Siemens, Suzuki, Vodafone, and the estate of Georgian billionaire Badri Patarkatsishvili.

Track record

One of the merged group’s most eye-catching victories came in mid-2015, when it helped Suzuki prevail in an ICC claim against Volkswagen over a troubled joint venture to market eco-friendly cars in Asia. The award required the German company to sell back its US$3.8 billion stake in Suzuki to the Japanese side. Hogan Lovells had replaced Debevoise & Plimpton on the case when it was already under way.

Another great result was helping an international oil consortium led by Italy’s Eni win US$573 million in a tax-related dispute with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation. The arbitration was seated in Nigeria and saw Hogan Lovells team up with local firm Aluko & Oyebode. Before the award could be issued, the team also had to overturn an injunction in the Nigerian courts.

Another energy company, Statoil, used Hogan Lovells for an ICC claim against Algerian state entity Sonatrach, obtaining a US$536 million award in 2013. The firm then helped defend the award in the English Commercial Court.

The firm has secured some equally impressive defence wins. In 2014, a team led by Jonathan Leach in Singapore and Markus Burgstaller in London helped Vietnam to defeat a US$3.75 billion treaty claim by a US investor over a proposed tourism resort, with the state awarded full costs. The same year, the team also helped Vietnam defeat a US$47 million claim by a French investor in a dialysis clinic.

In the pre-merger days, Lovells’ win-sheet included a victory for SAB Miller and its Tanzanian subsidiary in an ICC arbitration arising from the breakdown of a joint venture with Diageo – referred to as the “African beer wars”. In 2009, it also helped to win a €29 million investment treaty award against Thailand on behalf of German construction company Walter Bau (the administrators of which have since gone to some lengths to enforce the award).

Recent events

US–Egyptian national Samaa Haridi joined the partnership in New York in 2015 from Weil Gotshal & Manges. Her practice focuses on disputes with a link to the Middle East and North Africa, particularly in the hospitality and construction sectors. The Houston office welcomed partner Jennifer Smith from Baker Botts, who has worked on energy, technology and shipping disputes.

Australian James Kwan joined as a partner in Hong Kong, bringing experience in life sciences and health care disputes. He formerly led Baker & McKenzie’s international arbitration practice in Hong Kong. Another former Baker & McKenzie partner, Philip Van Rensburg, joined the Johannesburg office.

Meanwhile Dutch arbitration specialist Alfred Hoogveld joined as of counsel in Amsterdam, having spent most of his career as a partner in the Paris office of Rotterdam law firm Loyens & Loeff.

Simon Nesbitt left the firm in early 2015 to join Maitland Chambers after being appointed a Queen’s Counsel (he was one of only five solicitor-advocates who took silk that year). Nesbitt had done the advocacy on a number of Hogan Lovells’ biggest cases, including the Nigerian case for Eni mentioned above.

Another partner, Paul Teo, left in Singapore.

As for case results, Hogan Lovells scored a win for Venezuela by persuading an ICSID tribunal to throw out a US$150 million claim by a Barbadian investor in the fertiliser industry. The panel concluded that the claimant didn’t own the shares in question at the time they were expropriated. The state is now defending the award in annulment proceedings.

The firm continues to defend Venezuela in other treaty cases – including a pathbreaking claim by dual Venezuelan-Spanish nationals who invested in a food company. An UNCITRAL panel upheld jurisdiction over the case in 2015, holding that the treaty didn’t prevent dual nationals from suing their own government – the firm is now helping Venezuela to challenge that ruling in the French courts.

Hogan Lovells is also helping Mongolia to challenge an Energy Charter Treaty award worth US$104 million that was rendered in favour of uranium miner Khan Resources in 2015. The case has given rise to set-aside proceedings in Paris and an enforcement action in the United States.

There were settlements in other cases. A Miami-led team helped Iberdrola to settle a treaty dispute with Bolivia over expropriated shares in four electricity companies. The state agreed to pay US$34 million to resolve the case.

A team in London also helped Ukrainian oligarch Victor Pinchuk settle a fierce dispute with three former business partners over profits allegedly siphoned off from a ferroalloys venture. Pinchuk agreed to settle his US$800 million LCIA claim against Ukrainians Igor Kolomoisky, Gennadiy Bogolyubov and Mikhail Spektor in autumn 2015, midway through the hearing. The dispute had also given rise to a US$2 billion litigation in the English High Court involving allegations of bribery, attempted murder and witness tampering.

In the Mexico City office, Eduardo Siqueiros chaired an ICSID tribunal that ordered investors in Peru’s largest natural gas project to pay around US$65 million to a state agency to rsolve a contractual dispute over export royalties.

Client comment

Salvador Escalón, the Florida-based general counsel for telecoms group Millicom, used Hogan Lovells for two high-stakes cases involving its subsidiary Telemóvil El Salvador. He says the firm’s lawyers “did an excellent job” and presented their case “in a clear and convincing manner”. Miami-based partners Daniel González, Richard Lorenzo and Maria Eugenia Ramirez were key members of the team and succeeded in mastering “extremely technical” business details.

Another client told GAR: “Hogan Lovells produced some pleadings which blew the other side’s case away.” The client added: “They are on top of the details at all times with an experience that is extremely reassuring.”

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