Won a €59 million award against Romania’s environment ministry for an Austrian client
|People in Who’s Who Legal||1|
|People in Future Leaders||1|
|Pending cases as counsel||17|
|Value of pending counsel work||US$1.6 billion|
|Treaty cases as counsel||1|
|Current arbitrator appointments||11 (3 as chair or sole)|
|Lawyers sitting as arbitrator||2|
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. In 2000 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 its motorway authority.
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.
One of the firm’s most impressive results came in 2018 when it helped Romania knock out a US$450 million ICSID claim brought by Swiss energy company Alpiq. It was one of the rare investor-state cases where Romania did not also retain the services of international co-counsel.
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, the firm was sole external counsel to the agency in the case, while Chevron relied on a high-powered team from Three Crowns and DLA Piper.
Zamfirescu Racoți Vasile 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.
It is representing Greek construction company Aktor, defending a €23 million ICC award in set-aside proceedings filed by the Romanian motorway authority: the parties are in talks over an amicable settlement.
It acts for Italian contractor Secol Societa’ Edile in three arbitrations before CICA Bucharest, and advised it in one ICC arbitration under an expedited procedure, which settled in September 2020.
With co-counsel Norton Rose Fulbright, it won a €59 million award for Austrian-owned OMV in its ICC arbitration with Romania’s ministry of environment – over environmental costs stemming from the privatisation of Romania’s largest oil company, SNP Petrom. Romania is seeking to set aside the award.
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 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 63 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
- Maritime Law
- Banking and Finance
- Distribution and Transport
- Real Estate and others.
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]