GAR 100 - 14th Edition

Morgan Lewis & Bockius

Morgan Lewis & Bockius

Professional notice

A reported billion-euro settlement in the Vattenfall case could bring a nuclear saga to an end

People in Who’s Who Legal1
Pending cases as counsel35
Value of pending counsel workUS$11 billion
Treaty cases as counsel5
Current arbitrator appointments7 (3 as chair or sole)
Lawyers sitting as arbitrator2

Headquartered in Philadelphia, Morgan Lewis & Bockius featured in some of the early editions of the GAR 100, thanks to the work of former partner Mark Bravin for sovereign states on several high-profile investment disputes. The practice was also supported by Don Wallace Jr, a former White House counsel from the George W Bush administration.

However, the firm dropped out of the GAR 100 in 2011 after that team moved to Winston & Strawn. It returned to the ranking in 2020 following the arrival of partner Sabine Konrad in Frankfurt.

Konrad, who joined from McDermott Will & Emery, is an investment arbitration specialist best known for defending Germany in a €5 billion Energy Charter Treaty claim brought by Sweden’s Vattenfall concerning the phase-out of nuclear energy. She’s also one of Germany’s designees to the ICSID panel of arbitrators and the founder of the Frankfurt Investment Arbitration Moot.

Other names to know include partners Peter Sharp and David Waldron (who formerly worked with Konrad at Dewey & LeBoeuf). Dmitry Ivanov in Moscow and Wendy Tan in Singapore also practise commercial arbitration.

Network

The core arbitration team is in Frankfurt, London, Moscow and Singapore. The firm has 31 offices globally, 17 of which field arbitration lawyers, including in China, Japan and Kazakhstan.  

Who uses it?

Besides Germany, Konrad’s ICSID clients include a number of German financial institutions pursuing claims against Spain and Italy over renewable energy investments. She has previously acted for a subsidiary of Taiwanese state-owned petroleum company CPC in an ICSID claim against Venezuela; and appeared for the Netherlands as intervener in German court proceedings relating to the Achmea dispute.

Commercial clients of the firm include Toys “R” Us and Swedish medical technology firm Elekta.

Track record

Konrad’s track record at her previous firms includes representing German airport operator Fraport in a long-running ICSID dispute with the Philippines. She has also obtained a US$4 million BIT award against Costa Rica on behalf of German investors in an eco-tourism resort; and helped Poland to defeat a US$35 million claim brought by US investors in a blood plasma laboratory.

Recent events

It appears that Konrad’s work on the Vattenfall case may be at a close, after Germany announced it had reached a €1.4 billion settlement with the Swedish energy company in March 2021.

Working alongside Squire Patton Boggs, the firm helped Sweden’s Elekta to defeat an LCIA worth over €500 million brought by a German medical technology supplier over an alleged failure to promote its products. The client was awarded almost €10 million in costs.

Lawyers in London and Dubai obtained an “unusual anti-suit injunction” from London’s Commercial Court, blocking court proceedings brought by a company that had already filed for ICC arbitration in the United Arab Emirates, purportedly to preserve an asset-freeze.

The firm also secured a ruling from the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) Courts that for the first time blocked a party to a pending DIFC-LCIA arbitration from pursuing litigation in the onshore courts of the emirate.

Konrad continues to represent Landesbank Baden-Württemberg (LBBW) and three other German banks in an ICSID claim against Spain over a nearly US$2 billion investment its renewable energy sector. The state failed in a bid to disqualify the tribunal over its refusal to hold an in-person hearing during the covid-19 pandemic.

She is also leading a team acting for an Estonian fintech company in an ICC claim against Kosovo, filed after the state’s central bank revoked the business licence of its subsidiary over the interest rates charged on its loans.

A team in the US is representing a subsidiary of US bottlemaker Owens-Illinois in a bid to enforce a US$400 million award against Venezuela in the DC courts. The firm defeated an attempt by Venezuela’s purported government-in-exile, led by Juan Guaidó, to obtain a stay of enforcement.

Client comment

Mathias Wolkewitz, general counsel at German crude oil and natural gas producer Wintershall, says that Konrad is “the most outstanding person in international arbitration,” particularly in investor-state matters. “Her knowledge, strength on the facts and in advocacy as well as her dedication are without comparison.”

Combining creative dispute management and intercultural insight, Morgan Lewis represents clients in high-profile international arbitrations and international law disputes. Our cross-border team is intimately familiar with all aspects of international arbitral proceedings – handling cases in the Americas, Europe, Russia and the CIS, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East under all principal international arbitration rules.

Our lawyers regularly advise investors and governments in matters of investment protection and have acted in some of the largest and most prominent treaty arbitrations under the ICSID Convention and in other fora. With experience in many venues, members of our team are appointed to serve as arbitrators in international commercial and investment cases.

The expertise amassed at Morgan Lewis spans a broad range of industries, with a particular focus on energy, oil & gas, telecommunications, banking, and infrastructure. Because the successful resolution of a dispute often goes beyond arbitration itself, our team also advises clients in ancillary proceedings. 

For further information: https://www.morganlewis.com/services/international-arbitration

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