The Lebanese firm has broadened its horizons by opening offices in Paris and Duba
|People in Who’s Who Legal||2|
|Pending cases as counsel||5|
|Value of pending counsel work||US$417 million|
|Treaty cases as counsel||0|
|Third-party funded cases||0|
|Current arbitrator appointments||21 (8 as chair or sole)|
|Lawyers sitting as arbitrator||3|
Nayla Comair-Obeid founded Obeid & Partners (formerly Obeid Law Firm) in Beirut in 1987. Both firm and founder have since played a significant role in the development of arbitration in Lebanon and the Middle East – preparing the first draft of the current Lebanese arbitration law and the Arabic versions of the IBA guidelines and ICC rules, for example.
A professor at the Lebanese University and visiting professor at the Panthéon-Assas University in Paris, Comair-Obeid has given arbitration training to lawyers and judges across the Middle East. Indeed, she has claimed responsibility for “an arbitration awareness campaign” across the country and the rise in undergraduate conferences devoted to the field.
She has also played an active role in the international arbitration community, serving on the board of Cairo’s centre for arbitration and as vice chair of the IBA Arbitration Committee. She became president of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators in 2017 – the first woman from the Middle East to take on the role. She was elected an associate member of 3 Verulam Buildings in 2019, and in 2022 joined ICCA’s governing board.
Nayla is no longer the only Obeid on the scene. Her son Ziad joined the firm in 2011 after training as a civil engineer and practising at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer in Paris and Dubai. A managing partner and chair of the CIArb Lebanon Branch, he specialises in construction disputes. Daughter Zeina was promoted to partner in 2020.
The firm expanded its horizons in 2021, opening offices in Paris and Dubai. Zeina leads the Paris team, which also features recent hire Gerhardt Will, who joined the firm as senior counsel after working as general counsel at French multinational Areva. Bryan Dayton arrived as partner from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer to run the Dubai team.
Who uses it?
In addition to being very active in the MENA region, the firm’s mandates extend to West Africa, Europe, the Caribbean and North America.
The firm doesn’t like to name clients, but the list includes various states and government entities, as well as large companies from the region, in addition to some well-known international companies, particularly in the oil industry. The group’s members regularly accept appointments as legal experts on Middle Eastern legislation and shariah law.
In recent times, the firm has represented a Qatari–Saudi engineering contractor in a U$53 million dispute with a German multinational over a power utility, which was heard under ICC rules in Geneva. It handled an ICC case against a German–Italian conglomerate over a steel bar mill in Qatar.
It has also acted for a multinational on a dispute over a plant in Syria and advised on worldwide injunctions in support of a multibillion-dollar LCIA case.
The firm has a track record of co-counselling with international firms and acting in Lebanese court proceedings relating to international arbitration. For example, it acted for Turkey in an action relating to the US$10 billion Libananco case at ICSID (in which Freshfields was counsel for the state).
The firm is representing an Australian contractor in three international arbitrations in the UAE (under the DIFC-LCIA and the LCIA rules). The disputes relate to the construction and expansion of a UAE shopping mall that is one of the largest in the world, as well as major hotels and resorts. The amounts in dispute exceed US$300 million.
It is also acting as lead counsel for a major regional EPC contractor in an ICC arbitration seated in Doha with a multibillion-dollar conglomerate, where the amount in dispute totals over US$160 million.
Other work involves acting for a Qatari–Saudi contractor in a Geneva-seated ICC case against a German conglomerate over a steel bar mill and utility project in Doha, and for another contractor in a US$53 million dispute over a UAE power utility project.
It is also advising on Libyan law issues in a pending ICSID case.
A representative of a leading EPC contractor, part of the BUTEC group, says: “Ziad Obeid was a brilliant advocate and a fine strategist. There is no doubt his engineering background was a great added value.”
One client, the chief operating officer of an international construction company, says that she had the privilege of working with all three Obeids and that, collectively, they are “a force to be reckoned with”. She went on to say that “The team is tenacious when required and very strategic in their planning. I couldn’t recommend Obeid Law Firm enough.”
First established as Obeid law firm in 1987, Obeid Partners is a full-service global law firm with offices in Beirut, Paris and Dubai supporting its ever-growing footprint of clients and areas of expertise.
With three offices spanning the Middle East and Europe, the firm is ideally positioned to service international clients in the MENA region. The combination of transnational expertise with in-depth knowledge of local markets allows Obeid & Partners to fully grasp their clients’ issues and deliver tailored advice and bespoke solutions.
The firm is widely renowned for its Dispute Resolution practice which has been consistently ranked in the GAR 100 as well as in other leading directories and legal publications. The firm is regularly sought after for advice on legal reforms in various fields across the MENA region and has been at the forefront of drafting model laws on behalf of the Arab League.