GAR 100 - 13th Edition

ArbLit – Radicati di Brozolo Sabatini Benedettelli Torsello

Professional notice

The Italian firm saw off a challenge to an ECT award against the Czech Republic

People in Who's Who Legal3
People in Future Leaders3
Pending cases as counsel6
Value of pending counsel workUS$ 8 billion+
Treaty cases1
Third-party funded cases0
Current arbitrator appointments26 (18 as chair or sole)
Lawyers sitting as arbitrator8

ArbLit was launched by Luca Radicati di Brozolo and Michele Sabatini after they broke away from leading Italian firm Bonelli Erede Pappalardo in 2013. The Milan-based outfit made its debut in the GAR 100 in 2015 and was recognised at the GAR Awards in the same year.

A well-known name in Italy, Radicati di Brozolo is also highly regarded for his expertise in EU and antitrust law, and was head of the competition department at Italy’s Chiomenti Studio Legale in the 1990s, when he also headed the firm’s Brussels office. He joined Bonelli in 2001, later heading its London disputes desk. A door tenant at Fountain Court Chambers in London, he sits as arbitrator at the ICC, ICSID and the LCIA – where he was appointed vice president in 2019 – as well as the Milan Chamber of Arbitration, and the Geneva Chamber of Commerce and Industry. In addition, he is chair of private international law at the Catholic University of Milan and a former vice chair of the International Bar Association’s arbitration committee.

Sabatini also sits as arbitrator in ICC cases and the Milan chamber. He is a member of the Milan and New York bars, and has particular expertise in FIDIC disputes. Another name partner is Massimo Benedettelli, who joined in 2014 from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer in Milan and is a vice president of the ICC Court. He is also an arbitrator and professor of international law.

Marco Torsello, who had been of counsel at the firm since 2014 and heads its Italian litigation team, was made name partner in 2017.

Who uses it?

Telecom Italia, Enel, Tenova, STE Energy, Impresa Pizzarotti and Finmeccanica are among the firm’s major Italian clients, while international names include BNP Paribas, Deutsche Bank and steelmaker ThyssenKrupp.

In the investment treaty sphere, it has represented a group of European energy investors in six UNCITRAL claims against the Czech Republic relating to the repeal of economic incentives in the country’s solar power sector. ArbLit was brought in by the claimants to replace another firm.

Track record

Together with Quinn Emanuel, ArbLit helped US insurer AmTrust settle a €3 billion dispute with its former Italian business partner in 2016, after winning the disqualification of an arbitrator accused of taking a bribe. Italy’s Supreme Court upheld the challenge in 2017. The firm has also assisted AmTrust in follow-on litigation against the arbitrator.

A team led by Benedettelli scored a victory for Telecom Italia’s Brazilian unit TIM in 2016, helping it defeat a US$150 million ICC claim that concerned allegations of fraud. The dispute related to a merger deal with a prominent Rio de Janeiro businessman.

In the same year, Radicati di Brozolo helped Italian engineering client Consta win a €20 million Permanent Court of Arbitration award against the governments of Djibouti and Ethiopia. The dispute, heard under European Development Fund rules, concerned a deal to renovate a railway between the two states’ capitals. The firm is now representing Consta in a potential investment treaty claim against Ethiopia, after the award was annulled by the Ethiopian Supreme Court.

In 2013 and 2015, the firm won favourable jurisdictional rulings in two trailblazing ICSID cases against Argentina, brought on behalf of Italian bondholders affected by the state’s debt default. Although the two cases were later discontinued, the decisions will stand as valuable precedents for future treaty claims over sovereign debt.

Recent events

While five of the firm’s six solar cases against the Czech Republic were dismissed between 2018 and 2019, the firm continues to represent Natland Investment Group in a sixth case. Natland obtained an award on jurisdiction and liability in 2017 that was upheld by the Swiss courts in early 2020 following an unusually protracted set-aside proceeding. ArbLit teamed up with Swiss firm Kellerhals Carrard to defend the award. The arbitration is now set to proceed to the damages phase.

ArbLit is also defending a Mexican subsidiary of Tenova against a challenge to a partial ICC award brought by Italian construction company Kinetics Technology.

Radicati di Brozolo remains busy as arbitrator. He chaired an ICC panel that dismissed a claim brought by China National Petroleum Corporation against Costa Rica’s oil and gas-refining monopolist Recope over a cancelled US$1.5 billion project to upgrade a refinery.

He was also part of a five-member tribunal that handed down a US$650 million award in 2019 in favour of a subsidiary of Brazil’s Oi against other shareholders in Angolan mobile carrier Unitel. The claims in the case totalled US$3 billion. The award is now being challenged in the French courts.

In the investment treaty arena, he’s chairing ICSID panels hearing claims against Nicaragua, Peru, Colombia and Morocco and is part of an UNCITRAL panel hearing one of the “second wave” of ECT cases against Russia relating to the collapse of Yukos Oil Company.

Client comment

Andrea Navarra, general counsel of Italian renewable energy producer ERG, says ArbLit has been “very committed, well prepared and strategically-oriented” when acting for the company in an ICC arbitration. He praises Radicati di Brozolo’s brilliance and ability “to find alternative routes” when conventional ones do not work. Senior associate Fabio Santacroce is credited with “a bright future”.

Luca Puletti, general counsel to Italian infrastructure company Ghella, says the firm provides “all-round assistance”, adding that Radicati di Brozolo has “vast experience” and is always available for his client’s needs.

Daniel Andreolli, CEO of Consta, says: “ArbLit provides quick, high-level and cost-effective legal services.” He adds: “The members of the ArbLit team were quick in identifying the crucial facts of our cases and developing a winning strategy.”

Dedicated to Arbitration and Litigation

ARBLIT is the first boutique in Italy entirely dedicated to the resolution of international disputes by means of Arbitration and Litigation.

Experience and reputation

Thanks to our lawyers’ vast experience, reputation, and global outlook, complemented by academic standing, we are routinely engaged in high profile disputes in a broad range of matters, well beyond our Italian home base.

Excellence and commitment

Our ability to provide the best services is enhanced by our language skills and extensive international network of contacts with top law firms, arbitration and litigation practitioners, arbitral institutions and experts in most countries. Also for this reason, we are frequently involved in cases with no link to Italy or Italian law.

By combining a lean structure with expertise of the highest quality acquired in premier league law firms, we are able to offer services of the excellence usually associated with such firms, with the flexibility and lower costs of a boutique. We are therefore in a position to offer competitive fee arrangements that can be tailored to the clients' individual needs and that allow us to take on cases involving smaller amounts.

Independence

Our boutique size allows us also to be largely free of the conflicts that are an increasing concern in large firms and that previously affected our ability to take on cases as counsel or arbitrators.

ArbLit is now internationally recognized as a top-tier firm in the international arbitration and litigation sector as testified by our rankings in the principal directories.

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