GAR 100 - 14th Edition

Kulkov Kolotilov & Partners

Kulkov Kolotilov & Partners

Professional notice

The research for this section took place and was published 2021, before the current crisis in Ukraine; these rankings reflect the market as it was at that time. We are not requesting submissions from firms in Russia for the 2022 report at this time and they will not feature in future reports under the current circumstances.

Led a Russian multinational oilfield services company to victory at the ICAC

People in Who's Who Legal1
Pending cases as counsel2
Value of pending counsel workUS$222 million
Current arbitrator appointments2 (2 as chair or sole)
Lawyers sitting as arbitrator1

This Moscow boutique was set up in 2015 by Maxim Kulkov, a former counsel and head of the Russian disputes practice at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, and Oleg Kolotilov, who was a senior associate at the same firm. The two name partners were soon joined by another Freshfields alumnus, Nikolay Pokryshkin.

According to KK&P, its small size gives it greater flexibility. It only accepts a limited number of cases, which have so far included matters at most of the leading international arbitration centres in Europe as well as the ICAC (the arbitration court attached to the Russian Chamber of Commerce). It highlights debt recovery and asset dissipation matters as among the firm’s strengths.

Kulkov is a member of the ICC commission on arbitration and the ICC Russia arbitration commission. He is also on the arbitrator lists of ICAC, SIAC, the Japan Commercial Arbitration Association, the Russian Arbitration Association and other institutions in Russia and Kyrgyzstan. He also helps promote mediation in Russia.

Pokryshkin is a listed arbitrator at the International Arbitration Court at the Chamber of Commerce of Kyrgyzstan.

Who uses it?

Clients include US railcar leasing company GATX; Gazprom’s aviation fuel subsidiary Gazpromneft-Aero; Russian asset management group Alma; Agroprosperis, producer and exporter of crops in the Black Sea region; international aerospace technology company MDA; and a major international music company.

Clifford Chance has used the firm in relation to a dispute between Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska and Vladimir Chernukhin, the former Russian deputy finance minister and ex-chair of Vnesheconombank.

The government of Ukraine is using the firm in proceedings brought by Russian oil producer Tatneft to enforce an investment treaty award worth US$150 million over the loss of its investment in Ukraine’s largest oil refinery.

Track record

The firm helped Kyrgyz businessman Alexander Niyazov prevail in an ICAC case against subsidiaries of Russian oil company Rosneft in a post-M&A dispute relating to Kyrgyz oil companies, for which it drew praise from the client.

KK&P represented a BVI company in an English-seated LCIA case against a large holding company over shareholdings in a major oil and gas producer.

It also represented Avia-FED-Service, a Russian spare parts aircraft and helicopter supplier and servicing company, in four suits against Artem, a Ukrainian military equipment manufacturer. KK&P’s client won all four suits.

It advised world-renowned Dutch architect Erick van Egeraat in a trio of arbitrations under SCC and ICAC rules. The case – which concerned disputes over debt collection and compensation for copyright infringement of several architectural projects in Russia – concluded with van Egeraat’s claims being satisfied in full.

The firm acted for ING Bank in ICAC proceedings against RTM Group, related to the recovery of US$36 million.

Recent events

The firm’s ongoing work includes representing a large industrial facilities constructor in a US$65 million ICAC arbitration dispute between the client and a developer, and providing legal advice on whether LCIA awards in corporate disputes between Russian companies may be recognised and enforced by Russian courts, considering recent arbitration reforms in the country.

KK&P has also been advising a gas, technology and services company operating in the industrial and health sectors in connection with the enforcement of a US$2.5 million ICAC award. Meanwhile, Pokryshkin is leading the team representing senior German executives in efforts to annul a US$62 million award issued by the Arbitration Court at the Moscow Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

At the ICAC, it acted for a major Russian oilfield services firm, operating in 11 countries, in a dispute with an oilfield services company. The matter relates to the reimbursement of the client’s expenses incurred from remedying an accident and restoring the hermetic seal of an oil well. KK&P emerged successful in that case, winning more than 90% of the client’s claim.

Client comment

Niyazov, the Kyrgyz businessman mentioned above, says the KK&P partners are distinguished by their “bravery”, proving more willing to take on cases against major Russian state-owned companies than some of their local competitors. He says Kulkov and Pokryshkin are like “raging bulls” during hearings. Kulkov is “brilliant” at anticipating opponents’ arguments and interrogating the facts of a case “three times deeper than I could have imagined”. Pokryshkin is “sharp and creative” and “always considers all the possible options”.

He adds that KK&P charges much less than international law firms while providing the same quality. Niyazov’s legal costs were recovered from the respondent in his case.

From the legal department of Zarubezhstroytechnology (ZST), a subsidiary of state-owned transport company Russian Railways, Yulia Chernook used the firm for two ICAC cases against an Austrian contractor and related enforcement proceedings. She says KK&P provides a “deep, thoughtful, scrupulous approach” and a “matter of fact, proactive attitude”. Kulkov is a “man of great abilities” with an “encyclopaedic knowledge in the fields of Russian civil law and private international law”.

KK&P (Kulkov, Kolotilov and Partners) is a Russian arbitration and litigation boutique focusing on commercial dispute resolution in Russia, the FSU and other jurisdictions.

The firm is ranked as one of the two best Russian law firms handling international arbitration mandates (GAR 100).

KK&P lawyers have decades of experience working for international and Russian clients on international arbitration matters and coordinating trial proceedings in over 50 jurisdictions.

The firm:

  1. represents clients as counsel in all major arbitration centres, including the ICAC, ICC, SCC, LCIA and VIAC, as well as in ad hoc arbitrations (under UNCITRAL rules);
  1. prepares expert reports on Russian law for foreign arbitrations and court proceedings (e.g., PJSC Tatneft v Bogolyubov & Ors, Yukos Finance BV & Ors v Stephen Lynch & Ors, Filatona Trading Ltd & Anor v Navigator Equities Ltd & Ors, Danilina v Chernukhin & Anor, JSC BM Bank v Kekhman and Ors, Bestolov v Povarenkin); and
  1. provides arbitration services:

KK&P Managing Partner Maxim Kulkov has considered 47 cases in different roles, such as co-arbitrator, sole arbitrator, and tribunal chair at the:

- International Commercial Arbitration Court (ICAC) at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Russian Federation,

- Arbitration Institute of the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce (SCC), and

- Arbitration Centre of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs of Russia (RSPP).

Maxim is also a listed arbitrator at the:

- Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC),

- Japan Commercial Arbitration Association (JCAA), and

- International Arbitration Chamber of Arbitrators of the Union of Lawyers (Belarus).

Maxim is an international mediator of the Korea International Mediation Centre (KIMC).

KK&P provide international law firms quality of service at a local price. The firm’s narrow focus on complex commercial disputes guarantees a premium quality service. Its approach to handling trial mandates is based on maximum partner involvement in every single project.

Recent arbitration cases include:

  • representing a claimant – an oilfield services company – in an international commercial arbitration under ICAC Rules against one of the world’s largest oilfield services companies. The client claimed compensation for restoring an ultradeep oil well after defective cementing works by the respondent (the cement hardened prematurely, which caused the equipment to get stuck and made it impossible to use the well for its intended purpose). KK&P won over 90% of the claim and attained a revolutionary breakthrough for the sector by overcoming the provisions limiting the respondent’s liability for shortcomings in the work. To date, no comparable outcomes have ever been achieved in Russia. The firm succeeded in lowering the standard of proof required to overcome the limit of liability since Russian courts/tribunals usually require that an intentional breach of contract be proved, which is often impossible. KK&P proved that Russian law does not allow for limitation of a contractor’s liability not only for intentional violations but also for negligent violations of a contract. An award was successfully enforced in Russia;
  • defending a general contractor in the ICAC against a claim worth over US$65 million in connection with complaints regarding the quality of work on the construction of a shopping centre. During the arbitration, 11 hearings were held, 14 expert opinions were submitted, and seven experts were examined. The firm successfully defended the client from 75% of the claim;
  • representing a leader in alternative investing in an LCIA dispute on a claim against a major diversified construction holding. The dispute arose in connection with an English law agreement for the purchase of shares by one of the largest regional oil and gas producers, and concerned the recovery of an advance payment under a failed transaction which was entered into under English law;
  • representing a client in the SCC in a dispute arising out of the termination of a premium hotel management contract (the firm recovered lost profits for the next 40 years of the contract);
  • representing a contractor participating in the construction of a nuclear power plant in an ICC arbitration on a subcontractor’s claim for compensation for the stand-by of dredging equipment;
  • representing Avia-FED-Service, which supplies and repairs spare parts for all Russian-manufactured aircraft, in an ICAC arbitration against a Ukrainian state-owned holding company regarding the recovery of an advance payment under an air force supply contract for end users located abroad;
  • representing a beneficiary, a Kyrgyz oil trader, in an ICAC arbitration of a dispute with subsidiaries of Rosneft in connection with the recovery of additional payments under an M&A Transaction Agreement relating to four Kyrgyz oil companies previously owned by the client;
  • representing a share purchaser in the ICAC in connection with the recovery of an advance payment made under a transaction which, as a result of unsatisfactory due diligence results, was not performed;
  • acting as Tribunal Chair (Maxim Kulkov) in an SCC arbitration between Caspian Energy Projects and Siemens concerning the recovery of US$12 million under a services agreement in connection with gas turbine generators supplied for the development of an oil field in the Caspian Sea.

The firm’s clients’ feedback according to major legal directories:

  • KK&P is able to manage complex international arbitrations with consummate professionalism and efficiency in terms of response times, complying with challenging directions and communicating eloquently and persuasively with the tribunal and the opposing party. They are also excellent forensic lawyers with excellent attention to detail with the ability to identify minute details that advance a client’s case even where these are buried in extensive evidence.
  • The firm has unrivalled arbitration experience – both domestic and international – in the capacity of either sole counsel or co-counsel working alongside other firms or lawyers on cross-border disputes.
  • The rare mix of academic prowess and real world practical experience that tribunals and courts find compelling.
  • They represent the interest of our company as if they are part of it.
  • The ‘very well-connected’ team at KK&P ‘knows the Russian disputes market inside and out’ and is ‘highly recommended for difficult mandates’.
  • KK&P has strong capabilities in representing clients in Russian and international arbitration forums, and is particularly active in debt recovery and the enforcement of arbitration awards.
  • The firm stands out because of its very responsible and rigorous approach.
  • Very thorough and detailed work on each and every aspect of the case.
  • Clients highlight the team for its market insight, in particular the team’s ‘theoretical knowledge and extensive judicial practice’ and underline its ‘very good understanding of international law.’

For any questions and enquiries, please contact Managing Partner Maxim Kulkov (‘a leading individual on the Russian dispute resolution market in general, but for arbitration in particular‘ and ‘a formidable trial lawyer who has very persuasive advocacy skills’ as well as a ‘go-to Russian law expert in the market’ with ‘clear writing and calm oral testimony skills that tribunals and courts find convincing’) at [email protected].

KK&P International Commercial Arbitration practice

The firm’s other commercial dispute resolution-related

Contacts: [email protected]
+7 495 258 3941

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