This family firm is a focal point for international arbitration in Lebanon
- People in Who’s Who:
- Pending cases as counsel:
- Value of pending counsel work:
- US$47 million
- Treaty cases:
- Current arbitrator appointments:
- 24 (18 as sole or chair)
- No. of lawyers sitting as arbitrator:
Nayla Comair-Obeid founded this family firm in Beirut in 1987. Both firm and founder have since emerged as significant factors in the development of arbitration in Lebanon and the Middle East.
A professor of alternative dispute resolution at the Lebanese Judicial Institute and visiting professor at Pantheon-Assas University, Paris, Comair-Obeid has trained other lawyers and judges across the Middle East on the topics of arbitration and the role of the judiciary in supporting the process. She helped initiate what she describes as “an arbitration awareness campaign” across Lebanon and introduced, for the first time, international arbitration courses at undergraduate level at Lebanese universities. She has also played an active part on the wider international arbitration circuit, including serving as a vice chair of the IBA arbitration committee.
It was no surprise, then, that when Lebanon began to amend its arbitration law, the firm was retained to prepare the first draft (the final law was published in 2002), or that the International Bar Association approached the firm to write the “IBA Arbitration Guide” for Lebanon and to assist in drafting and translating an Arabic version of the IBA guidelines for drafting international arbitration clauses.
Clients include companies and states usually from within the region. It has represented the government of Lebanon in two of the largest international arbitrations to date. Often the work centres on construction disputes. That said, it has represented foreign clients – including, recently, a major US multinational in arbitration-related court proceedings before the Lebanese courts – and has acted as expert in Lebanese law for a Canadian energy company in proceedings before the English High Court.
The firm is active in the Middle East and North and West Africa, and has been involved in disputes in the Europe, the Caribbean and North America that have a Middle Eastern connection. For example, the firm advised a Canadian energy company on matters of Lebanese law before the English High Court and in a Geneva-seated arbitration. It has also advised a US multinational in a Lebanese court action in support of a multimillion-dollar LCIA arbitration seated in London.
Nayla Comair-Obeid also sits as arbitrator and last year was redesignated by Lebanon to ICSID’s panel of arbitrators.
The arrival of Ziad Obeid (Nayla’s son), who joined as a partner in 2011, has boosted the firm’s capability in the field of construction disputes. Ziad trained initially as a civil engineer and has worked for a major international construction company in France as well as Canadian engineering consulting firm Tecsult.
After qualifying in law, he practised at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer in Paris and Dubai, where he worked on international construction and energy arbitrations. He has also worked on investment cases, including those brought under BITs.
Another new joiner, Zeina Obeid, arrived from White and Case in Paris. She is completing her PhD at Pantheon-Assas University on the topic of annulment of arbitral awards in the Middle East.
The firm also hired Canadian-qualified associate Louis-Philippe Lapicerella last year.
One of Comair-Obeid’s cases as sole arbitrator received attention in 2012 when a UAE family applied to the High Court in London to overturn a US$23 million ICC award she had issued in favour of Bahraini construction company Terna. The court’s decision to uphold the award prompted the GAR headline, “She who must be Obeid”.
Established in 1987, Obeid Law Firm is a full service law firm servicing the MENA region from its headquarters in Beirut, Lebanon. The firm is widely recognised as one of the leading law firms in Lebanon and the Middle East; enjoying widespread recognition among local and international legal practitioners.
Recognised for its commitment to excellence and its expertise in Middle Eastern legislations, the firm has established a first-class international arbitration practice acting as parties’ counsel, arbitrator or expert. The firm also advises clients at the pre and post arbitration stages - from drafting arbitration agreements to enforcing arbitral awards, foreign courts decisions and asset preservation orders.
Over the past few decades, Obeid Law Firm has been involved in some of the largest arbitration cases in the Middle East and has actively participated in various legal reforms in Lebanon and the Gulf region.
Led by Professor Nayla Comair-Obeid, the firm’s arbitration team combines international best practice with local know-how. With acknowledged arbitration specialists engaged in some of the most significant English, French and Arabic-language arbitrations in the MENA region, the firm’s arbitration practice offers unparalleled regional expertise and wide-ranging capabilities.
Known for its diverse arbitration portfolio, the firm has been engaged in matters conducted under various arbitration rules and subject to a wide range of applicable laws, including: Syrian Law, UAE Law, Egyptian Law, Qatari Law, Jordanian Law, Kuwaiti Law, Lebanese Law, Tunisian Law, French Law, Swiss Law, Italian Law, English Law and US Law.
Members of the firm have also been called to give expert evidence on aspects of Middle Eastern legislations before arbitral tribunals and foreign courts including the Grand Courts of the Cayman Islands and the English High Court. Numerous books and publications have been authored by the firm members in Arabic, French and English on international contracts and international arbitration, including the reference book on “The Law of Business contracts in the Arab Middle East”.
Obeid Law Firm is a drafting contributor to the “GAR Reference” project and the “Guide to National Rules of Procedures for Recognition and Enforcement of New York Convention Awards” published by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) in Paris. The firm is also the author of the “IBA Arbitration Guide” for Lebanon and has participated in the review and translation of the Arabic versions of the IBA Guidelines for Drafting International Arbitration Clauses and the revised 2012 ICC Rules.