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Zulficar & Partners

11 February 2015

The Egyptian firm is assisting a Kuwaiti investor at ICSID

People in Who’s Who Legal: 1
Pending cases as counsel: 70
Value of pending counsel work: US$7.5 billion
Treaty cases: 2
Current arbitrator appointments: 29 (of which 17 are as sole or chair)
Lawyers sitting as arbitrator: 1

Founded in 2009, this Cairo-based firm’s international arbitration practice works on oil and gas, tele­coms, finance and banking and IT disputes.

The practice is headed by partners Mohamed Abdel Wahab and Ingy Badawy. It gained a third partner in 2013 with the promotion of Ismail Ahmed Selim. In the past year, it has also promoted a new senior associate, Youssef Al Saman, and added six new associates.

As an Egyptian firm, naturally much of its work involves disputes at the Cairo Regional Centre for International Commercial Arbitration (CRCICA). But it also has a number of SIAC, ICC and ad hoc proceedings on its books too. Moreover, it is involved in an ICSID case against Egypt, as co-counsel with Clifford Chance.

Abdel Wahab, who also heads the firm’s project management practice, has the biggest international profile of the group for arbitration. He is a member of the CIETAC panel of arbitrators and a recently appointed member of the LCIA Board. He was also nominated at last year’s GAR awards in the category of best speech, for a presentation at the Milan Chamber of Arbitration in November 2013 on “The Domestic Law Basis of International Arbitration”.

Who uses it?

Clients include Cemex, Bechtel, Crédit Agricole, Dragon Oil, Philip Morris International, British American Tobacco, Total, Egyptian General Petroleum Company, Mobinil, Alghanim Industries, Arab African International Bank and APM Terminals.

Track record

The firm has had a number of successes for Egyptian General Petroleum Company (EGPC). In one London-seated case, the client only got the firm involved 18 months into the proceedings, having failed to retain external counsel before that point. Zulficar nevertheless turned things around and won an award with costs in EGPC’s favour.

It also helped EGPC settle a US$200 million claim brought by Egyptian oil company PICO, shortly after filing a statement of defence.

Another result was making sure Arab African International Bank was excluded from a US$62 million banking claim by Kuwaiti investment company Osoul Holding Group.

Recent events

Alongside Clifford Chance, it continues to act as Egyptian counsel to Kuwaiti chemical products investor Bawabet Al Kuwait in a US$750 million ICSID claim against Egypt.

The firm successfully defended a subsidiary of Orascom in a US$390 million gas pricing dispute brought by two Egyptian state companies, EGAS and Gasco, at the CRCICA. It also successfully saw off a US$60 million claim against Abu Qir Petroleum by US utilities company Nordic Energy Services, who withdrew after the firm filed its first memorial.

The firm acted for an Egyptian developer, SODIC, in a US$1.6 billion dispute with Lebanese developer Solidere; a favourable decision on jurisdiction was delivered in 2013, which led to the dispute being settled the following year.

It is also currently representing Egyptian telecoms operator Mobinil, part of the Orange group, in a US$1.8 billion claim against the country’s state-controlled fixed-line operator, Telecom Egypt.

Client comment

Mobinil’s legal director Ayman Essam says Zulficar & Partners’ performance in two arbitrations has been excellent – he praises their “in-depth understanding of the industry” and “ability to meet aggressive client demands” to deadline with a smile.

Essam calls Abdel Wahab, “a true example of a multinational, multilingual client-focused lawyer with technical legal strength”.

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