GAR 100 - 14th Edition

Zulficar & Partners

Zulficar & Partners

Professional notice

Partner Mohamed Abdel Wahab is much in demand as expert witness and arbitrator as well as counsel

People in Who’s Who Legal1
People in Future Leaders1
Pending cases as counsel24
Value of pending counsel workUS$3.2 billion
Treaty cases as counsel6
Current arbitrator appointments17 (5 as chair or sole)
Lawyers sitting as arbitrator2

Founded in 2009, this Cairo-based firm’s international arbitration practice works on oil and gas, telecoms, finance and banking and IT disputes.

The practice is headed by its founding partner Mohamed Abdel Wahab. As an Egyptian firm, naturally much of its work involves disputes at the Cairo Regional Centre for International Commercial Arbitration (CRCICA). But it also has SIAC, ICC and ad hoc cases on its books, and has done work at ICSID.

Abdel Wahab, who also heads the firm’s project management practice, has the biggest international profile of the group for arbitration. He is a vice president of the ICC International Court of Arbitration, a member of the CIETAC panel of arbitrators and a vocal proponent of the use of arbitration for resolving Islamic finance disputes. He is also a member of the IBA’s core advisory group that is considering reforms to investor-state arbitration.

He has also been featured as a “thought leader” in arbitration by Who’s Who Legal and has received a prize for his advocacy from the Swiss Arbitration Association. 

The arbitration team also includes partners Youssef Al Saman and Ingy Badawy.

Who uses it?

Clients include Cemex, Bechtel, Bawabet Al Kuwait Holding Company, Saipem, Shelf Drilling, Crédit Agricole, Dragon Oil, Methanex, Philip Morris International, Orange Total, Egyptian General Petroleum Company, Ford, Honda, Hyundai Heavy Industries, Goldman Sachs and APM Terminals.

The firm has also represented Bahrain and Canada.

Track record

In 2017, Zulficar helped mobile operator Orange Egypt (formerly Mobinil) settle an eight-year Cairo centre arbitration with an Egyptian state-owned telecoms company over interconnection fees. At the time of settlement, the tribunal had already upheld Orange’s claim in principle and dismissed a US$1.8 billion counterclaim by the state entity.

The year before, as co-counsel with Clifford Chance, the firm helped Bawabet Al Kuwait Holding Company – part of the business empire of Kuwait’s wealthy Al-Kharafi family – settle a US$400 million ICSID claim against Egypt. The case concerned gas pricing and tax measures that affected a petrochemicals investment.

The firm has had successes for Egyptian General Petroleum Company (EGPC). In one London-seated case, the client only got the firm involved 18 months into the proceedings, having failed to retain external counsel before that point. Zulficar nevertheless turned things around and won an award with costs in EGPC’s favour.

It also helped EGPC settle a US$200 million claim brought by Egyptian oil company PICO, shortly after filing a statement of defence.

The firm acted for an Egyptian developer, SODIC, in a US$1.6 billion dispute with Lebanese developer Solidere, which settled in 2014.

It defended a subsidiary of Orascom in a US$390 million gas pricing dispute with two Egyptian state companies at the Cairo Centre.

In the Egyptian courts, the firm helped the production company of Egyptian satirist Bassem Youssef overturn a US$14 million award in favour of Cairo TV network CBC.

Recent events

As an expert witness on Egyptian law, Abdel Wahab played a role in helping Canada prevail in its first bilateral investment treaty case, defeating an ICSID claim reportedly worth US$1.8 billion brought by an Egyptian telecoms company.

As arbitrator, Abdel Wahab was part of an ICC tribunal that dismissed a €60 million investment treaty claim against Libya brought by a Turkish construction company Öztaş over a water project.

Abdel Wahab was elected chair of the international expert advisory committee of the Permanent Forum on China Construction Law, during its latest congress in Beijing.

Our solid and world-class arbitration practice is founded on a combination of knowledge, expertise, creativity, and strategic dispute management. We pride ourselves as market pioneers in the world of arbitration, where we regularly prosecute cases under major institutional rules and in ad-hoc proceedings.

The Firm’s Arbitration Group is headed by Prof. Dr. Mohamed S. Abdel Wahab who, in addition to being a Founding Partner of the Firm, is recognized as a world-class leading arbitration practitioner, who regularly features in international arbitration proceedings as arbitrator, counsel or expert. The Arbitration Group comprises more than 23 highly talented lawyers specializing in prosecuting investment and commercial arbitral proceedings, and is continuously expanding at an accelerated pace to cater for an increasing caseload, where the Firm is continuously instructed to act on high profile international commercial and investment cases with an exceptional track record of successful outcomes.

The Arbitration Group is available and able to conduct international arbitral proceedings in diverse jurisdictions, under various laws, and in different languages to the highest standards of efficiency and professionalism, and is regularly instructed to represent corporations, investors and governmental entities from across the globe in arbitral proceedings under major institutional rules including the CRCICA, ICC, ICSID, JCAA, LCIA, SIAC, and in the context of ad-hoc proceedings governed by the UNCITRAL rules and/or diverse national laws.

The Arbitration Group is well positioned and recognized for successfully prosecuting high value and highly complex arbitral proceedings. Its expertise spans diverse business and investment sectors, and cases governed by Egyptian, English, French, Jordanian, Kuwaiti, Moroccan, Omani, Qatari, Saudi, Spanish, Swedish, Swiss, Syrian, Italian and United Arab Emirates law(s), as well as international law and the general principles of law.

Growing at an accelerated pace, the Firm has already established itself as a market leader and precedent maker, where it is regularly ranked as the top tier practice in notable directories including: Chambers & Partners, Global Arbitration Review (GAR), Legal 500, IFLR and IFLR 1000.

In 2017, the Firm was awarded the Global Arbitration Review “Mediterranean or North African international arbitration practice that impressed in the past year” at the GAR Ceremony held on 29 March 2017.

In 2017, Prof. Dr. Abdel Wahab has been selected to feature in Who’s Who Legal Thought Leaders: International Arbitration (2017-2018), and the GAR Global Guide for Future Leaders in International Arbitration (2017 - 2018).

Prof. Dr. Abdel Wahab is listed in the top 64 world leading practitioners in Who’s Who Global Elite Thought Leaders: International Arbitration (2021); featured in the 2020 Africa’s 30 Arbitration Powerlist as a recognized leader in the African disputes market; and selected among the 500 honorees of the 2021 Lawdragon Global Litigation 500 Lawyers Guide. He features in AFRICA’s 100 list of leading African arbitration practitioners by I- ARB (Africa) and was selected by Africa Arbitration as the African Personality of the Month (June 2018), and by the LACIAC (Lagos Chamber of Commerce International Arbitration Centre) as the Arbitration Personality in May 2019. He also received the LAW Magazine 2017 Best Legal Practitioner Award (Egypt), the 2018 ASA International Arbitration Advocacy Prize (Switzerland), the 2019 AYA Hall-of-Fame African Arbitrator Award (UK) and the 2020 Client Choice International Award (UK).

In 2018, Mrs. Mona Zulficar, Founding Partner & Chair Person of Zulficar & Partners law firm, was recognized by IFLR Middle East Awards 2018 for the “Life Time Achievement Award”, for her exceptional and tireless efforts of influential and innovative work in the corporate finance and regulatory practices, as well as impressive achievements in other fields. This award marks Zulficar & Partners as not only the first Egyptian to receive the award, but also the first woman globally. In 2021, she was the inaugural recipient of the “Egypt Lifetime Achievement Award” in the Chambers & Partners Middle East Awards 2021 ceremony on April 7th, celebrating her career and contributions to the Egyptian legal profession.

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