A leading Nigerian firm for oil and gas clients and home to an ICSID arbitrator
|People in Who’s Who Legal||1|
|Pending cases as counsel||3|
|Value of pending counsel work||US$1.1 billion|
|Current arbitrator appointments||4 (2 as chair or sole)|
|Lawyers sitting as arbitrator||1|
Among the largest law firms in West Africa, AELEX arose from the 2004 merger of four commercial firms in the region. One of those was a disputes boutique led by Funke Adekoya SAN, one of the first women to be appointed a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, who gained a reputation for her advocacy skills before Nigeria’s High and Appellate Courts.
Adekoya, based in Lagos, leads AELEX’s international arbitration practice. She is a member of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (CIArb) and a governing board member of the International Council for Commercial Arbitration. Adekoya also sits on the board of the Mauritius Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s ADR arm, and is a former vice chair of the LCIA’s African Users’ Council.
Adekoya was added to ICSID’s panel of arbitrators in 2017, and also sits on CIETAC’s panel of arbitrators.
Headquartered in Lagos, the firm has two other Nigerian offices – in Port Harcourt and Abuja – and another in Ghana’s capital, Accra. It is also affiliated to Meritas, a group of some 180 law firms in 90 countries.
Who uses it?
Energy, construction and financial services companies make up the bulk of the firm’s clients. It is particularly busy in the oil and gas sector. Well-known clients include Shell, ExxonMobil, Total, Eni, Petrobras, Ivory Coast’s national oil company Petroci and South Africa’s SacOil.
Alongside Clifford Chance, the firm helped a consortium led by Shell to win a partial award worth US$1.4 billion against the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation in 2013. The overall dispute is reported to be worth more than US$3 billion. However, the proceedings were halted by a Nigerian court injunction. An action to enforce the award in the US courts has been stayed while the consortium pursues an appeal in Nigeria.
AELEX helped Petrobras prevail in a pair of multiparty arbitrations brought by Norway’s Statoil concerning the allocation of shares in the Agbami oilfield.
Adekoya is increasingly active as arbitrator at ICSID. She has been appointed by Sierra Leone to hear a claim brought by a UK investor in an iron ore mining project. She is also on panels hearing claims against Grenada and Tanzania and on annulment committees reviewing awards against Spain and Venezuela.
In 2020, Adekoya was part of an Africa Arbitration Academy committee that produced a protocol on virtual hearings in Africa in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Dispute resolution specialists Ngozi Efobi and Perenami Momodu were promoted to the partnership.
An oil and gas client praised AELEX’s “attention to detail”, singling out Adekoya for her “exceptional and prompt service”.
Ashurst partner Tim Reid worked alongside AELEX in a US$1 billion arbitration for a multinational oil company that ended in the client’s favour. He calls Adekoya “a considerable advocate who is widely respected for her very sound advice”.
ǼLEX is a full-service law firm and one of the largest law firms in West Africa with its head office in Lagos, Nigeria and other offices in Port Harcourt and Abuja in Nigeria, and in Accra, Ghana. The Firm has 11 partners, 1 international counsel and over 50 lawyers operating from its various offices. Lawyers in the firm are admitted to practice in several jurisdictions including Nigeria, New York, Ghana, England and Wales. In addition to qualifying in law, lawyers in the firm have qualifications in disciplines such as political science, economics and engineering. ǼLEX has provided legal advisory services on major transactions and projects across several of the Firm’s practice areas.
ǼLEX has earned a reputation for excellent work in various practice areas including Mergers & Acquisitions and Private Equity, Corporate/Commercial, Labour and Employment, Taxation, Capital Markets, Foreign Direct Investment, Intellectual Property and Technology, Banking and Finance, Transportation, Dispute Resolution, Aviation, Environment and Telecommunications.
Clients of the Firm are predominantly multinational companies including banks and financial institutions, airlines, oil and gas companies, insurance companies, shipping lines, trading and manufacturing conglomerates.
The Firm advises foreign embassies, multilateral agencies, non-governmental organizations, Chambers of Commerce and private clients. The Firm also provides legal advisory services to professional colleagues in Europe, Asia, the United States of America and other African countries who require advice on Nigerian law