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GAR 100 - 9th Edition

Templars

18 February 2016

A favourite of major oil and gas clients in Nigeria

Pending cases as counsel: 8
Value of pending counsel work: US$8.5 billion
Treaty cases: 0

This Nigerian firm was founded in the 1960s by a future Supreme Court Justice of Nigeria and rebranded in the 1990s. Its disputes work has grown out of its leading energy and projects practice. The firm is a first port of call for international oil and gas clients, which has given it a weighty commercial arbitration portfolio. When our researchers asked GAR 100 firms to name their preferred African co-counsel, Templars repeatedly came up. The firm has been in some of the biggest cases relating to Nigeria.

Partner Adewale Atake in Lagos heads the arbitration practice. He is a member of the London Court of International Arbitration.

Besides Lagos, the firm has offices in Port Harcourt, Abuja and Uyo.

Who uses it?

ExxonMobil and Shell have used the firm in a monumental matter (see below). Other international clients of note include Total, Halliburton, Hyundai Heavy Industries, KBR, South Atlantic Petroleum, Technip and Total. Local clients include Emerald Energy Resources and UAC of Nigeria.

It has also acted for the government of Nigeria’s Delta State in a US$4 billion telecoms dispute; and for Heinken’s local subsidiary, Nigerian Breweries.

The firm is regularly used on arbitration and post-award enforcement matters in the Nigerian courts.

Track record

Together with Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, it helped ExxonMobil and Shell win a US$2 billion award against Nigeria’s national oil company NNPC in 2011, in a tax dispute concerning the Erha production field. (The award was set aside at first instance by the Nigerian courts but an appeal is pending.)

It also helped Nigerian Breweries defeat a claim arising from a gas purchase agreement.

Another case saw Templars win an award for French company Philippe Lassarat in a dispute with an international oil company about the painting of offshore wellhead platforms.

Hyundai Heavy Industries was pleased when the firm blocked enforcement of a US$10.5 million award in Nigeria.

Recent events

Emmanuel Gbahabo, a partner in the international arbitration team, left the firm to become general counsel at a Nigerian oil and gas group.

The firm represented Nigeria’s Emerald Energy Resources in an LCIA arbitration with its financial adviser over the payment terms of his consulting agreement.

Meanwhile, the firm continues to represent another group of international oil companies in an arbitration against the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and to advise Exxon and Shell in their efforts to reinstate their US$2 billion award in the Nigerian courts (US enforcement proceedings have also recently been lodged).

In other matters, it has been assisting the Delta State government in an application to set aside a partial award in favour of Econet Wireless concerning a share sale; and for Total in a dispute with Chevron that is now before the Nigerian Supreme Court.

Client comment

One client praises Templars’ ability to organise experts, cooperate with other law firms, and make flexible billing arrangements. It says that partners Adewale Atake and Godwin Omoaka, and managing counsel Igonikon Whyte impressed with their “insights on potential arbitrators […] to strategies for presenting evidence.”

Ken Okorie, general counsel to Emerald Energy Resources, says: “Templars represented our company very ably at the tribunal. Their team was diligent, and highly professional both in its preparation, configuring and laying out the issues, and in presenting and arguing the case at the hearing.”

Uaboi Agbebaku, in-house counsel to Nigerian Breweries, says that the team’s ability to “distil the issues from the very beginning” convinced him that they were “on top of the game.” He says that the firm kept its client constantly updated on developments and that the lead partner was led the defence “creditably.”

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