GAR 100 - 16th Edition

Obeid & Partners

Obeid & Partners

Professional notice

A market leader in Lebanon

People in Who’s Who Legal2
Pending cases as counsel5
Value of pending counsel workUS$417 million
Treaty cases as counsel0
Third-party funded cases0
Current arbitrator appointments22 (10 as chair or sole)
Lawyers sitting as arbitrator3

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 Paris-Panthéon-Assas University, 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 arbitration centre 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 is also an associate member of 3 Verulam Buildings in London and joined ICCA’s governing board in 2022.

Comair-Obeid is not the only Obeid on the scene. Her son Ziad Obeid 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 Obeid was promoted to partner in 2020.

The firm expanded its horizons in 2021, opening offices in Paris and Dubai. Zeina Obeid anchors 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 does not 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.

Track record

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 multimillion-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).

Recent events

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.

Its recent clients include a joint venture in an ICC dispute over the construction of a steel complex in Algeria; and a subcontractor in its dispute over a hotel and resort complex in the UAE. The firm is also acting for one of the largest food companies in the Middle East in proceedings to enforce a foreign award in Lebanon.

It is also advising on Libyan law issues in an investment dispute.

Client comment

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: “The team is tenacious when required and very strategic in their planning. I couldn’t recommend Obeid Law Firm enough.”

Established in 1987 by Professor Dr. Nayla Comair-Obeid, one of the oldest firm founded by a woman in the Middle East, we have been advising clients in the Middle East and the wider MENA region for over 35 years. Supporting clients on transactions, strategic and event-driven projects, regulatory matters and disputes across the region and across a wide range of industry sectors, the team are particularly well known for their Construction law, Telecoms and Oil & Gas expertise. We are ideally positioned to service international clients in the MENA region, combining transnational expertise with in-depth knowledge of local markets allows us to fully grasp clients’ issues and deliver tailored advice and bespoke solutions. 

With three offices spanning the MENA region: Beirut, Paris Dubai we act as a central hub connecting Europe to the Middle East and offer clients the ability to work with a firm that understands local laws and practices and has extensive experience working with established international legal systems and arbitral institutions. Our Dispute Resolution practice which has been consistently ranked in the GAR 100 as well as in other leading directories and legal publications. Drawing on our well-established network of resources and fantastic team of dedicated lawyers, in addition to a strong Disputes Practice, we offer our clients a full range of specialist legal advice and provide comprehensive legal services for a variety of contentious and non-contentious matters.

We work closely with associated offices located in several Middle Eastern and European countries allowing us to cover mandates that extend to West Africa, the Caribbean and North America and to deliver world-class legal services tailored to fit the geographical needs of our clients. As a firm, our expertise, always grounded on a strong understanding of the local laws and practice, extends from Lebanon to the wider MENA region and beyond. We are regularly called upon to advise on legal reforms in various legal fields across the MENA region and are at the forefront of drafting model laws on behalf of the Arab League. Our firm members are frequently asked to serve as legal experts on points of Lebanese law and other Middle Eastern legislations in international arbitrations and courts around the world. 

As part of the firm’s mission and vision to be the gateway to the MENA region for our clients we opened offices in Dubai and Paris, in 2021. We believe that our presence in these key jurisdictions will be instrumental in expanding our international footprint and enabling us to better service our clientele on cross-border matters. Our combined efforts will reinforce our position in these markets as a leading specialist Middle Eastern disputes practice, creating bridges between cultures, continents, and legal traditions.  

Drawing on the firm’s well-established network of resources, our practice teams offer specialist legal advice and provide comprehensive legal services for a variety of contentious and non-contentious matters.

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