The recently merged US firm retains its reputation for gas price reviews and treaty cases
|People in Who’s Who Legal:||1|
|Pending cases as counsel:||49|
|Value of pending counsel work:||US$20 billion|
|Current arbitrator appointments:||37* (of which 22 are as sole or chair)|
|Lawyers sitting as arbitrator:||10|
* excludes CAS work
Longtime GAR 100 firm Squire Sanders completed its tie-up with Patton Boggs in June 2014.
Squire Sanders’ arbitration practice first took shape in 2000 when Cleveland-based partner George von Mehren, deciding there was scope for such work within the firm, joined forces with a newly arrived lateral team in Hungary, including the late Iván Szász. Since then, the firm has built its reputation on successes in the energy and construction fields, particularly in gas-pricing disputes.
In parallel with more general international expansion, the group made some targeted lateral hires: its footprint expanded significantly after a merger with UK firm Hammonds, which filled in some of the gaps in Europe and took it into Asia, and it also recruited Singaporean lawyer Peter Chow from Bryan Cave to lead the Asia disputes team. It was one of the first firms to be retained on investment arbitration work.
Patton Boggs, meanwhile, is best known in the United States for its litigation and lobbying work, and has a relatively new international arbitration practice set up in 2010 with the arrival of Ken Reisenfeld from King & Spalding.
Despite the practice being young, the firm has worked hard to expand on the treaty arbitration side, hiring former ICSID counsel Tomás Solís from Foley Hoag (an ex Dewey & LeBoeuf lawyer), as well as another former Dewey lawyer and ex-State Department attorney, David Colson, who has experience in boundary disputes. This investment has paid off, with recent clients including Croatia, which the firm is acting for in an ICSID claim brought by Hungarian oil company MOL, and in a parallel UNCITRAL case the state has brought against MOL.
Now under one roof, the combined international disputes practice is led by von Mehren in London as global chair.
Other names to know are consultant Paul Oxnard (who came from Hammonds) and energy disputes specialist Ben Holland in London. Stephen Anway and David Alexander are key members of the investment treaty practice, and part of the Czech Republic’s “dream team” in some high-profile Energy Charter Treaty cases.
The disputes group now has 90 lawyers in 15 offices across Europe, the United States, the Middle East and Asia. In arbitration terms, the key offices are those on the East Coast of the US, Prague, London and Paris. It also has arbitration practitioners stationed in Houston, Columbus, Frankfurt, Doha, Singapore, Hong Kong, Perth and Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic.
Who uses it?
The Czech Republic is a regular client of Squire Sanders and has used it on numerous investor-state matters, including the important Saluka, Phoenix Action and Nagel cases. Ecuador also used it as co-counsel on the Occidental Petroleum case at ICSID.
Other regulars include Edison and Gas Natural, who have instructed the firm in numerous gas price review and supply contract cases. Turkish telecoms provider Turkcell, OHL, Entertainment Distribution Company Inc and technical services provider Imtech are also clients.
Aside from Croatia, Patton Boggs’ clients include Chile, US company Disaster Relief Construction, Isle of Man-based asset recovery firm Broadsheet and the New Doha International Airport Steering Committee (NDIA).
Going back a few years, the Squire Sanders team won big for Gas Natural in a pair of gas-pricing disputes: in 2005, it obtained US$500 million for the company from Nigeria LNG and, in 2008, up to US$1 billion (depending on how you slice the award) from Atlantic LNG of Trinidad and Tobago. The tribunal in the Atlantic case famously “rewrote” the pricing formula.
More recently, it has helped Edison redraft its long-term gas supply contract with Qatari company RasGas, winning an award worth around €450 million to the Italian side. The same client used Squire Sanders (and co-counsel Mannheimer Swartling) in a 2011 price review arbitration with Russia’s Promgas that ended in a settlement. Another case for Edison against Algeria’s Sonatrach, which was thought to be the first ever successful “hardship” price claim in a gas contract, also ended happily, with an award worth around US$300 million.
For the Czech Republic, the firm brought home two additional recent wins in UNCITRAL cases. One was filed by a German investor that missed out in a tender to acquire some of the state’s forests. An UNCITRAL panel dismissed the €150 million claim in 2012, holding that the actions of the entity that handled the tender weren’t attributable to the state under international law. The other case, a US$95 million claim by a German project management company, was dismissed in 2013, with the state receiving most of its costs.
In 2014, it also achieved a victory for Slovakia, having an investment treaty claim brought by Dutch health-care insurer Achmea thrown out on jurisdictional grounds. The tribunal said it had no authority to hear claims concerning a mooted expropriation that had yet to occur.
The firm says it is yet to represent a sovereign client in an investment treaty case in which the arbitral award required the state to pay money.
Just a few months into the merger, the firm recruited energy disputes partner Ben Holland from the London office of Covington & Burling, where he had only been for some 15 months. It also hired James Barratt from O’Melveny & Myers in London as of counsel in September.
Squire Patton Boggs is currently defending the Czech Republic in seven investment treaty cases concerning its solar sector, as part of a co-counsel team that includes Zachary Douglas of Matrix Chambers and Karolína Horáková of Weil Gotshal & Manges in Prague.
The firm also continues to advise Ecuador (as co-counsel with Dechert) in its application to annul a US$2.3 billion ICSID award won by Occidental Petroleum in 2012.
Successful work in the Achmea claim also bagged Squire Patton Boggs a new instruction by Slovakia, this time to defend an ICSID case brought by two North American companies with investments in one of the world’s largest talc deposits.
On the Patton Boggs side, Colson in DC was part of a counsel team representing Chile in a six-year-long maritime boundary dispute with Peru at the International Court of Justice that concluded in January 2014. The outcome was hailed as a victory on both sides: Peru was awarded additional territory claimed by Chile, but the tribunal left valuable fishing waters under Chilean control.
Andrea Holíková of the Slovak Ministry of Finance says what distinguishes the lawyers in George von Mehren’s team is their “wisdom, professionalism, respect, openness, loyalty and honesty”.
She highlights Stephen Anway’s “extraordinary analytical skills”, David Alexander’s “rock-solid legal advice” and Rostislav Pekarˇ’s concern for making sure that the ministry understands all possible outcomes and strategies. “They are all outstanding lawyers in every regard,” she says.
Slovakia also found the team to be very competitive on price in comparison to other law firms, she adds.
Marco Lorefice, senior lawyer at Edison, says that Squire Patton Boggs is, in his opinion, “law firm number one worldwide in energy arbitration matters, with incredible experience in gas price disputes”. It is the firm that you hope never to face on the other side of the table, he adds. “George von Mehren is great in setting up the strategy for the case, Stephen Anway is a rising star in international arbitration and (Houston partner) Steven Harris is someone you would never want to be cross-examined by.”
Another client, who wished to remain anonymous, praises the “fantastic oral presentation” by Stephen Anway during hearings in their claim.
Disputes involving multi-nationals and sovereign states across multiple jurisdictions can present complex challenges, requiring deep understanding and practical experience of a range of governing laws and applicable rules. With a team of over 90 international arbitration lawyers, the Squire Patton Boggs’ International Dispute Resolution team specialises in international commercial arbitration, treaty arbitration, energy disputes, international litigation, advocacy, risk and crisis management, dispute prevention and mediation. Our lawyers have experience in many international arbitration forums and knowledge of local litigation rules in regions all around the world. We work with our clients on structuring advantageous measures and proactive defences whilst ensuring that judgments or awards are enforceable.
We are a noted leader in bilateral investment treaty arbitrations and gas contract disputes and a preeminent firm for gas price re-openers.
We are ranked by The American Lawyer Arbitration Scorecard 2015 as a Top 10 Arbitration Firm for handling the highest number of large arbitrations in 2013-2014 and we were commended in the 2015 Financial Times Innovative Lawyers Report for Europe for our role as lead counsel for the Slovak Republic in a significant international arbitration against Dutch company Achmea B.V.
Squire Patton Boggs is one of the world’s strongest integrated legal practices with more than 1,500 lawyers in 44 offices across 21 countries. For more information, visit www.squirespattonboggs.com.
George von Mehren
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