GAR 100 - 15th Edition

Chaffetz Lindsey

Chaffetz Lindsey

Professional notice

A go-to firm for disputes over Latin American projects

People in Who’s Who Legal6
People in Future Leaders1
Pending cases as counsel15
Value of pending counsel workUS$6.04 billion
Treaty cases as counsel4
Third-party funded cases1
Current arbitrator appointments23 (11 as chair or sole)
Lawyers sitting as arbitrator6

This New York boutique was launched in 2009 by a breakaway team from Clifford Chance including global litigation head Peter Chaffetz and David Lindsey, who co-headed the Americas arbitration group.

The founding partners included New Zealander James Hosking, who chairs the international arbitration practice. Other key members of the team include partner Yasmine Lahlou, who has a Franco-Moroccan background and has been with the firm from the beginning, and Lebanese–US national Caline Mouawad, who joined in 2019 from King & Spalding.

Spanish national Aníbal Sabater joined the firm in 2015 from Norton Rose Fulbright and brings investment treaty expertise. Other names to know include Swiss–US national Andreas Frischknecht and recently promoted partner Andrew Poplinger.

Chaffetz and founding partner Cecilia Moss are well known for their work in insurance disputes.

Who uses it?

Governments such as Iran, the Czech Republic, Egypt, Moldova, Liberia and the Cook Islands have used the firm, along with state entities such as the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

But most of the firm’s clients come from the private sector, including AES, Maersk, Ashmore Energy International, French defence contractor Safran, Italy’s Enel Green Power, AIG, South Korea’s Samwhan, the Miss Universe Organization and Turkey’s Çukurova Holding.

Much of the firm’s work is focused on clients or projects in Latin America, including Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru – mostly relating to oil and gas, power and infrastructure, construction and project finance. Clients in this regard include Brazil’s Vale, Peru’s Graña y Montero and Panama’s QGI Oil & Gas.

Track record

Chaffetz Lindsey’s greatest hits include helping Ashmore subsidiary Jaguar Energy win a billion-dollar ICC dispute with a Chinese contractor over a power plant in Guatemala. The firm won the client a final award in 2015 for US$129 million in damages and US$20 million in costs, also knocking out a counterclaim of around US$800 million.

Another big win came in 2020 when it secured Brazilian contractor IESA Óleo & Gás a US$107 million ICC award against Brazil’s national oil and gas company Petrobras over an offshore oil and gas project. The firm also defeated counterclaims worth US$423 million.

In 2016, the firm helped Liberia settle a US$750 million ICSID claim lodged by a Canadian mining company, following negotiations that had been stalled by an outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus in the country.

In the US courts, it has helped NNPC defeat enforcement of a US$2.7 billion award in favour of ExxonMobil and Shell and helped a Turkish roadbuilder to enforce a US$25 million award against the Kyrgyz Ministry of Transport.

Recent events

There was success for first-time client the Czech Republic, with the firm persuading an UNCITRAL tribunal to throw out a US$20 million claim by a Dubai real estate investor on jurisdictional grounds. The state was also awarded costs.

The firm is representing a Brazilian state-owned electricity generator in a billion-dollar dispute with a Chinese contractor over a major power plant project, which is playing out in a Europe-seated arbitration.

Canada’s Stoneway Capital used the firm in a New York-seated ICC dispute with German multinational Siemens over the construction of four power plants in Argentina.

At ICSID, the firm is representing a subsidiary of Denmark’s Maersk Group in a US$180 million claim against Peru concerning a delay-hit project to modernise one of the country’s largest ports. The firm is co-counselling with Miranda & Amado in Lima.

In the US courts, Egypt retained it to defend against a US$120 million enforcement bid before settling the case. A Chinese–Mexican consortium led by Sinohydro used it to try to enforce an LCIA award against a Mexican state utility before the client received a US$270 million settlement.

Members of the firm continue to be active as arbitrator. In 2021, a US court upheld an award issued by Hosking, which required Occidental Petroleum to pay over US$500 million to its former partner in an Ecuadorean oil block. Mouawad meanwhile sat as a pre-arbitral referee in an ICC procedure that has been used only around 20 times since it was introduced in 1990.

Hosking was appointed to the ICCA governing board and Mouawad became co-head of an IBA subcommittee on investment arbitration.

Client comment

Maureen Ryan, general counsel at US renewable energy company Altas, says she has been using Chaffetz Lindsey since its inception and the firm “provides outstanding value and service”. 

“It is one of the best firms I have worked with,” she notes, “and I would not hesitate to recommend it to anyone needing practical, business-minded advice.” She also says she has “complete trust” in Hosking.

Chaffetz Lindsey is the premier US disputes boutique providing top-tier advocacy and advice on complex international disputes.  The firm handles high-end arbitration and litigation matters from a specialized, client-friendly (and conflict-free) boutique platform.  The strength of the firm’s team lies in the depth of talent at the partner, counsel and associate level.  Chaffetz Lindsey lawyers have trained in civil and common law systems, practiced around the globe, and are fluent in several languages including English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, German, Italian, Mandarin and Arabic.

The international arbitration team handles cases in all the world’s major arbitration fora, involving disputes arising out of infrastructure projects, engineering/construction claims, oil and gas ventures, mining and natural resources projects, pharmaceutical licensing, M&A, JV/shareholder disputes, and complex commercial contracts, and investment treaty claims for and against states. While many of its arbitrations are seated in the US, the firm’s current caseload involves cases seated in Asia, Europe, and Latin America.

Chaffetz Lindsey’s attorneys are recognized thought leaders – regularly speaking and writing on developments in international arbitration and holding leadership roles in the community. Several members of the team also regularly sit as arbitrators, and have appeared as experts on US law and international arbitration practice. The firm and its International Arbitration team are highly ranked by all the leading industry guides.

Chaffetz Lindsey also has an active state, federal, and bankruptcy court practice. The firm’s experience covers all aspects of general commercial litigation, with a particular expertise in finance/securities, insurance and reinsurance, bankruptcy, cross-border disputes and sovereign immunity issues.

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