The Dutch firm’s rebooted practice is increasingly visible on high-stakes matters
|People in Who’s Who Legal||1|
|People in Future Leaders||1|
|Pending cases as counsel||11|
|Value of pending counsel work||US$2.7 billion|
|Treaty cases as counsel||4|
|Third-party funded cases||2|
|Current arbitrator appointments||5 (0 as chair or sole)|
|Lawyers sitting as arbitrator||2|
NEW ENTRY: Van Doorne has been around in the Netherlands for more than 90 years. It’s where leading Dutch arbitrator Albert Jan van den Berg started out in the 1980s.
However, the firm hasn’t made arbitration a priority until fairly recently. Things changed in 2019 with the hire of Rogier Schellaars as co-head of a dedicated arbitration practice.
Schellaars, who splits his time between Amsterdam and London, trained at the arbitration team in Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer in the early 2000s. He joined Van Doorne after seven years as partner at Simmons & Simmons, bringing a team of associates with him.
He’s a former Dutch member of the ICC Court and has experience of investor-state work as well as M&A, joint venture and finance disputes.
The other practice co-head is Bas van Zelst in Amsterdam, who has been with the firm for more than a decade and has just been promoted to the partnership. He also has investment arbitration expertise.
The team is based in Amsterdam but also has an outpost in London, which Schellaars and van Zelst both spend time in.
Who uses it?
Van Doorne has acted for a range of clients in commercial disputes, including Strukton Group, private equity firm Gilde Investments and KPMG. It has also acted for a company owned by Angolan billionaire Isabel dos Santos. A state client is the Czech Republic.
The firm is increasingly a first port of call for set-aside and enforcement proceedings in the Dutch courts.
Together with Squire Patton Boggs, Schellaars helped Dutch technology developer GeoSolutions win a US$126 million award at the Netherlands Arbitration Institute (NAI) in 2019. The award was against Sina Corporation, the company behind Chinese social media website Weibo. It held Sina liable for breaching a licence agreement by allowing GeoSolutions’ location-based services software to be used by third parties.
Van Doorne helped Finnish iron and steel investor Mohamed Abdel Raouf Bahgat defeat an effort by Egypt to overturn a US$120 million treaty award in 2021. The state agreed to settle the dispute soon after.
The firm advised Isabel dos Santos’ Exem Energy in an NAI dispute with Angola’s national oil and gas company Sonangol. The tribunal ordered Exem to return shares worth over €650 million after ruling that they were acquired illegally. GBS Disputes acted for Sonangol in the matter.
That dispute gave rise to another NAI arbitration in which Van Doorne also acted. The firm’s corporate litigation team also handled a parallel case in the Amsterdam Court of Appeal’s Enterprise Chamber, while its white-collar crime team handled investigations by public prosecutors.
The Czech Republic has retained Van Doorne to defend an investment treaty award against a challenge by failed claimant Fynerdale Holdings in the Dutch courts.
Michiel Thierry, chief legal officer at Dutch multinational lighting corporation Signify, says the Van Doorne team are “strong communicators” and a “trusted source of expertise”.
Schellaars is “straightforward, creative, to the point when necessary”.
VAN DOORNE is a leading and independent Dutch law firm. With well over 200 lawyers, including over 70 litigators, we have consistently been at the forefront of the Dutch market: for over 90 years. In 2019, Van Doorne has re-launched a dedicated arbitration team – through an internal promotion (Prof. Bas van Zelst) and an external hire (Rogier Schellaars).
Our arbitration team is centered around these two high energy partners. We are committed team players and thoroughly pragmatic & commercial in our approach.
We focus exclusively on arbitration and arbitration related court proceedings. Our practice comprises, mainly, counsel cases, which we supplement by taking on selected mandates as arbitrators and experts. We work with most of the prominent arbitration rules, including ICC, ICSID, LCIA, PCA, AAA/ICDR, NAI, and SIAC. We also deal with UNCITRAL arbitrations at the PCA and elsewhere.
The senior team is supplemented by a wider group of dedicated arbitration practitioners: comprising four mid-level Associates, two junior associates as well as a MCIArb dual-qualified former Netherlands Arbitration Institute-administrator and two legal project managers who both hold law degrees. This team can tap into the further contentious bench strength of the wider firm.
We work out of Amsterdam (ten minutes from Schiphol Airport) and from our hub-office in London. One of our arbitration associates is permanently based in the UK.
Our expertise is founded on the two partners’ combined 30+ years of counsel experience and a solid academic record. We contribute to many industry bodies, including on Energy and on NAI and ICC Taskforces.
Bas van Zelst combines his full-time arbitration practice with an academic chair in dispute resolution and arbitration at Maastricht University. He is also active on the NAI's Advisory Board.Rogier Schellaars has been in the field for over twenty years, of which six were combined with membership of the ICC International Court of Arbitration. He continues to chair the Dutch ICC Arbitration Committee and has recently been appointed to the German DIS Council.
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