GAR 100 - 13th Edition

Zamfirescu Racoți Vasile & Partners

Professional notice

Regularly acts for Romania or its state entities, including at ICSID

People in Who's Who Legal1
Pending cases as counsel16
Value of pending counsel workUS$1.2 billion
Treaty cases1
Current arbitrator appointments13 (6 as chair or sole)
Lawyers sitting as arbitrator2

Zamfirescu Racoți Vasile & Partners took shape in the mid-1990s, just as the Romanian legal market began to liberalise. Headed by Călin-Andrei Zamfirescu, the firm made its international arbitration debut as counsel to the state agency overseeing Romania’s privatisation programme. It won its first case, over a cancelled US$240 million oil refinery sell-off, which opened the door to later privatisation disputes.

It branched out into construction, representing one of Romania’s biggest companies in this area (Bog’Art) in a series of cases beginning in 2003. The firm has since built upon this area, with partner Cosmin Vasile known for his FIDIC expertise.

The firm picked up its first instruction in an investment treaty case in 2007 – a US$10 million UNCITRAL matter for which it co-counselled with White & Case. A US$140 million ICSID dispute followed three years later, and this has led to more investor-state work.

Zamfirescu and Vasile both sit as arbitrators. The team includes recently promoted partner Alina Tugearu.

Who uses it?

The Romanian government has used the firm at ICSID, while Romanian state entities regularly use the firm for commercial matters, including energy holdings company SAPE; the country’s largest energy producer Hidroelectrica; the National Agency for Mineral Resources; and motorway authority CNADNR (now known as CNAIR).

Other clients include OMV Petrom, Alro-Vimetco, Arcadis France SAS, DIWI Consult International, Societa Edile Costruzioni e Lavori, Group Investment Portico and the Saint-Gobain group.

Track record

One of the firm’s most impressive results came in 2018 when it helped Romania to knock out a US$450 million ICSID claim brought by Swiss energy company Alpiq. The case concerned long-term energy supply contracts with Hidroelectrica that were cancelled shortly before the state entity became insolvent. It was one of the rare investor-state cases where Romania has not also retained the services of international co-counsel. Alpiq has applied to ICSID to have the award annulled. 

The firm also made headlines in 2017 when it won more than €400 million for Romanian state entity SAPE in an ICC case against Italy’s Enel over a put-option clause in a privatisation agreement for a power distributor. The case was one of the largest commercial arbitrations to come out of Romania in recent times.

In another matter for SAPE, this time against E.ON in relation to the German utility’s exercise of a call option, the firm also prevailed in 2017 on part of its client’s counterclaim, winning compensation for dividends that E.ON had failed to distribute in its role as majority shareholder of a Romanian energy concern.

Another success was for Romania’s National Mineral Resources Agency in an ICC case brought by Chevron over three shale gas concessions. The tribunal dismissed claims by Chevron and ordered it to pay the agency more than US$73 million. Impressively, Zamfirescu Racoți Vasile was sole external counsel to the agency in the case, while Chevron relied on a high-powered team from Three Crowns and DLA Piper.

Recent events

The firm is defending Hidroelectrica in a major ICC case filed by Austrian construction company Andritz over the rehabilitation of the country’s main hydropower plant. The case is worth more than €290 million.

Zamfirescu is representing Italian construction company Secol in three disputes with a Romanian company worth €7 million. Two of the cases have cleared the jurisdictional stage before an arbitral institution in Bucharest; the third is an expedited ICC case.

The firm is acting for CNAIR in a series of further cases, including against Italian and Austrian contractors. 

With co-counsel Norton Rose Fulbright, it is also representing Austrian company OMV in a US$70 million ICC case against Romania’s ministry of environment – over environmental costs stemming from the privatisation of Romania’s largest oil company, SNP Petrom. A hearing on the merits took place in December 2019.

Client comment

One client praises the firm’s efficiency and says Vasile “is probably the best young litigator in Romania”. He has a “very thorough understanding of client’s needs and expectations”.

Ingo Steinwender of Austrian real estate company CA Immobilien Anlagen used Vasile for a VIAC dispute over a construction project, and calls him “a first-class dispute resolution lawyer, capable of managing complex cases with great tactical judgement.”

Steinwender also finds Violeta Saranciuc “a resourceful problem solver with great case management skills”. “She is a rising star in arbitration,” he says.

Laura Voinea, legal director at Romania’s state assets administration authority, praises the firm’s responsiveness and professionalism, which distinguishes them from other firms. The team also demonstrated impressive knowledge of private international law and environmental law, she adds.

ZAMFIRESCU RACOTI VASILE & PARTNERS ATTORNEYS AT LAW

Zamfirescu Racoti Vasile & Partners is a leading law firm in Romania, assuring both business and dispute resolution support and representation. Presently, Zamfirescu Racoti Vasile & Partners benefits from the contribution of a total number of 53 attorneys highly specialized in various business-related law areas.

ZRVP manages the biggest national and international arbitration portfolio in Romania, handling arbitrations conducted under the auspices of numerous arbitral bodies or rules including the ICC International Court of Arbitration Paris (“ICC”), the London Court of International Arbitration (“LCIA”), the Camera Arbitrale Nazionale et Internazionale di Milano (“CAM”), United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (“UNCITRAL”), and the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (“ICSID”).

ZRVP also offers legal assistance and representation services in multimillion-value disputes held under the auspices of The Court of International Commercial Arbitration attached to The Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Romania.

The practice includes a wide array of disputes in the following areas:

  • Construction and Infrastructure Projects
  • Energy
  • Engineering
  • Insolvency
  • Maritime Law
  • Media
  • Banking and Finance
  • Distribution and Transport
  • Production
  • Real Estate and others.

CONTACT PARTNERS

Cosmin VASILE, Head of the International Arbitration Department
E-mail: [email protected]

Calin-Andrei ZAMFIRESCU, Senior Partner of the International Arbitration Department
E-mail: [email protected]

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