Muşat & Asociaţii
The firm that defended Romania in its first-ever ICSID case
|Pending cases as counsel:||10|
|Value of pending counsel work:||US$2.1 billion|
Founded during the privatisation boom in the early 1990s, Muşat & Asociaţii was one of Romania’s first independent law firms, and became the first to represent the state in an investment dispute at ICSID, partnering with White & Case in a claim brought by US firm Noble Ventures in 2001.
The firm suffered a blow in 2005 when 20 of its lawyers, including Florentin Ţuca and Cornel Popa, who took the lead in the Noble matter, broke away to form fellow GAR 100 firm Ţuca Zbârcea & Asociaţii. In the same year, Luminiţa Popa became a partner at Muşat. Today, she serves as head of the revamped international arbitration practice, with deputy managing partner Gheorghe Buta heading the overall disputes practice.
Who uses it?
Having counselled the government early on, the firm has tended towards acting against Romania in recent years. For a time, it advised Swedish investor Viorel Micula in a dispute with the state; and counts Italian energy group Enel and French construction company Colas among its current users.
The firm successfully acted for Enel in a US$59 million ICC claim and is defending the company in a US$1.2 billion case brought by the Romanian government over issues concerning the interpretation of a privatisation contract.
It was also retained in further ICC matters by Hungarian property developer Trigranit Group in a case involving claims of over US$70 million, and by Italian manufacturer Termomeccanica Ecologia in a case worth US$13 million. Both matters ended in success for the firm in 2012.
More recently, it acted in an arbitration administered by the Romanian Chamber of Commerce’s arbitration court on behalf of ECE Projektmanagement Romania and ECE Projektmanagement International. The case, worth US$20 million, ended favourably for the firm’s clients in 2013.
Muşat clinched a victory for Colas at the ICC in August. The dispute arose from the client’s contract with Romanian National Company of Motorways and National Roads, and related to the restoration of a major road in the country.
Alain Clotte at Colas describes the firm as “less polemic and more legal” and highlights the quality of the documents drafted by the lawyers, as well as the team’s coordination with their clients during hearings. Thought it “may be seen to be a bit expensive”, the quality and the reactivity is there, he says.
Enel’s Edoardo Marcenaro notes: “Muşat & Asociaţii was much more professional than the counterparty’s counsel, especially in view of not causing unfruitful waste of time to the arbitral tribunal.” He says the firm was put to the test in one case when the tribunal chairman raised a final question in the last hearing, giving Muşat only a 15-minute break to prepare its reply. But the firm rose to the challenge and gave a response that was “decisive for a favourable award to Enel,” he contends.
During the 25-year history of our law firm, we have built a strong and experienced international arbitration practice, bringing together extensive expertise across a broad spectrum of industries and fields of business and a deep understanding of the Romanian market.
With a dedicated international arbitration group of 10 multilingual lawyers highly specialized in a wide range of disputes and multiple substantive and procedural laws, our international arbitration practice acts in a variety of high-stakes and complex arbitrations taking place in all important international fora.
Over the past decade, we have successfully assisted major multinational companies in several of the largest, high-profile disputes to arise in Romania. Our track record includes international commercial proceedings under all major arbitration rules involving complex legal matters, substantial claims, as well as multiple parties, and investment disputes arising in connection with bilateral and multilateral treaties. As well, our practice routinely handles court proceedings related to arbitration matters, including annulment, recognition and enforcement of arbitral awards in Romania.
We are one of a handful of Romanian law firms to provide our clients with integrated services, drawing from the experience of our other departments and from our collaborations with other elite practices in other jurisdictions.
The lawyers in our practice are highly recommended Romanian practitioners in the field of international arbitration, with extensive experience in a wide range of areas (Commercial & Corporate Litigation, Administrative & Fiscal Litigation, Real Estate Litigation, IP & Competition Litigation, Employment Litigation, Restructuring & Insolvency, etc.), capitalizing on the firm’s know-how built in over 25 years of leadership on the local market. In addition, the members of our practice are listed on the panel of arbitrators of various arbitral institutions, being also involved in writing and publishing on international arbitration topics.
Muşat & Asociaţii’s international arbitration practice is consistently recognized by leading international directories and legal publications, including Chambers & Partners and Legal 500, for our “well-rounded and comprehensive dispute resolution practice, with regional and multinational coverage”, as well as “proven track acting for both public-sector bodies and private companies defending and pursuing litigation claims”. Furthermore, our experts are described by clients as having “vast knowledge of the international arbitration field” and praised for their “innovative approach” and “in-depth understanding of client needs”.
Dr Gheorghe Buta, Deputy Managing Partner, Head of the Dispute Resolution practice
E-mail: [email protected]
Tel: +40 21 202 59 08
Luminita Popa, Partner, Head of the International Arbitration practice
E-mail: [email protected]
Phone: +40 21 202 59 12
Address: 43 Aviatorilor Boulevard, 1st District, Bucharest, 011853
Phone: +40 21 202 5900
Fax: +40 21 223 3957
Email: [email protected]