GAR 100 - 15th Edition

Zamfirescu Racoti Vasile & Partners

Zamfirescu Racoti Vasile & Partners

Professional notice

Won a €59 million award for an Austrian client against Romania’s environment ministry

People in Who’s Who Legal1
People in Future Leaders1
Pending cases as counsel19
Value of pending counsel workUS$1.7 billion
Treaty cases as counsel1
Current arbitrator appointments17 (3 as chair or sole)
Lawyers sitting as arbitrator1

Zamfirescu Racoți Vasile & Partners originated 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.

Zamfirescu Racoți Vasile 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 on 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, and Romanian state entities regularly work with 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.

Track record

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 in which 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, Zamfirescu Racoți Vasile also prevailed in 2017 on the 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 came 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, whereas Chevron relied on a high-powered team from Three Crowns and DLA Piper.

Recent events

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. The merits hearing was held in April 2021.

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. Another dispute for the same client ended in 2021 with a favourable outcome.

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.

The firm is currently assisting Europolis, the Romanian subsidiary of Austrian real estate company CA Immobilien Anlagen, in a VIAC arbitration.

Vasile has replaced Allen & Overy’s Kate Davies McGill as secretary of the International Bar Association’s arbitration committee.

Cosmin Cojocaru, who advises on construction and energy disputes, was promoted to partner in 2021.

Client comment

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 clients’ needs and expectations”.

Ingo Steinwender of 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, commends the firm’s responsiveness and professionalism, which distinguish it from other businesses. 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 66 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
  • Energy
  • Engineering
  • Insolvency
  • Maritime Law
  • Media
  • Banking and Finance
  • Distribution and Transport
  • Production
  • Real Estate and others.

CONTACT PARTNERS

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]

Website: www.zrvp.ro

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