GAR 100 - 8th Edition

Lazareff Le Bars

Professional notice

The young French firm has opened a second office – in Belgium

Pending cases as counsel:10
Value of pending counsel work:US$470 million
Treaty cases:2
Current arbitrator appointments:8 (of which 8 are as sole or chair)
Lawyers sitting as arbitrator:2

This Paris boutique was set up by Benoît Le Bars, formerly of Hammonds Hausmann, at the start of 2010. It happened shortly after the creation of another Paris boutique, founded by arbitrators Yves Derains and Serge Lazareff, and former Salans partner Hamid Gharavi. After a falling out, Lazareff entered practice with Le Bars, leading to a swift rebranding of both firms. At the time, the pair told GAR that the plan was for Le Bars to focus on counsel work, while Lazareff would mainly appear as an arbitrator. Lazareff, who was one of France’s best-known arbitrators, sadly died in January 2012.

Le Bars is an experienced practitioner and academic with particular experience in disputes connected to OHADA, an organisation for the harmonisation of business law across African countries. He’s a registered arbitrator at OHADA’s Common Court of Justice and Arbitration situated in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, and also hears ICC cases. As co-arbitrator, he is hearing a US$350 million ICC case between a Canadian company and an Ivory Coast consortium in the mining industry. He also teaches arbitration and international commerce law in France and the United States, and is chairing the working group of ICC France on arbitrator liability.

The firm’s interest in Africa saw it sponsor the third edition of the International Meetings on Business Law in Africa, which took place in Paris in December 2014.

Network

Lazareff Le Bars opened its first overseas office in Brussels at the start of the year, headed by new hire Henri-Paul Lemaitre. The firm also has an arrangement with New York and San Francisco-based law firm Girard Gibbs, which is often brought in on cases with a US-law dimension.

Who uses it?

Its clientele tends to be from Europe or Africa, with a particularly strong showing in the telecoms sector. Recent clients have included a French group in an ICC claim in Burkina Faso against a private investor; and an Abu Dhabi group in various ICC claims in French and English-speaking Africa. It has also been involved in a US$190 million ICC claim between Moroccan and Swiss parties in the hotel industry, and is representing a Mauritian telecoms client in an ICC claim against Mali over an operation licence.

Track record

In 2014, Lazareff Le Bars won a US$132 million award against Equatorial Guinea for Orange subsidiary France Cables et Radio, in an ICC arbitration arising out of the settlement of a previous dispute over a joint venture.

The firm also had success in a €280 million dispute between Italian and US parties in the automotive industry.

Recent events

As mentioned above, the firm set up in Brussels in 2014 with the hire of partner Henri-Paul Lemaitre, an arbitrator and counsel with experience in corporations, M&A and financial markets, who joined from Belgian firm Janson Baugniet.

It continues to advise on cases against Togo, Niger and Cameroon in the telecoms and construction sectors, as well advising a Lebanese client on the enforcement of an award against Niger.

In addition, the firm is bringing a €95 million ICSID claim against Belarus on behalf of a Belarusian industrial tube manufacturer over litigious investments.

For two years running now, it has picked up a prize for “Best Law Firm” in the fields of arbitration, ADR and commercial litigation at the Palmarès des Avocats, an awards ceremony organised by French law magazine Le Monde du Droit.

Client comment

Anne Desurmont, judicial officer at French car parts manufacturer Mobivia Group, praises the team’s availability, their concern to address the company’s operational issues, and their knowledge of foreign regulations and practices. She also highlights the opportunity the firm offered to negotiate its fees. “Lazareff Le Bars knew the case deeper than the others, and it made a great difference,” she adds.

22, rue du Général Foy 75008 Paris (France)
Tel: +33 (0)1 80 18 25 30
Fax: +33 (0)1 47 20 86 53
www.lazareff-lebars.com

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