Zamfirescu Racoti Vasile & Partners
A Romanian firm that has gone toe to toe with big international practices, and won
|People in Who’s Who Legal||1|
|People in Future Leaders||2|
|Pending cases as counsel||17|
|Value of pending counsel work||US$2.1 billion|
|Treaty cases as counsel||1|
|Third-party funded cases||0|
|Current arbitrator appointments||17 (4 as chair or sole)|
|Lawyers sitting as arbitrator||1|
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.
The firm 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, 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 came three years later, and more high-value investor-state work has followed.
Zamfirescu is a well-known and respected practitioner in Romania, having previously served as president of the Balkan Lawyers Association and the National Association of the Romanian Bar – of which he is now an honorary president. He and Vasile, secretary of the International Bar Association’s Arbitration Committee, both sit as arbitrator.
The team also includes partners Alina Tugearu, who specialises in intellectual property disputes, and Cosmin Cojocaru, who has expertise in construction matters.
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, Secol Societa Edile Costruzioni e Lavori, Portico Investments and the Saint-Gobain group.
One of the firm’s most impressive results came for Romania’s National Agency for Mineral Resources 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.
Another standout win 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.
While the firm has carried out much impressive work on behalf of Romania, it also recently teamed up with Norton Rose Fulbright to win a €59 million ICC award for Austrian-owned OMV Petrom against the state’s Ministry of Environment, Water and Forests. That dispute concerned the privatisation of Romania’s largest oil company, SNP. Romania previously said it would apply to set aside the 2020 award.
Zamfirescu Racoți Vasile helped Hidroelectrica fend off a significant part of a €290 million ICC claim filed by Austrian construction company ANDRITZ over the rehabilitation of the country’s main hydropower plant.
Romania has been using the firm to fend off a bid by Alpiq to revive its aforementioned US$450 million ICSID claim. At the time of writing, an ICSID panel is expected to hand down its decision on the company’s annulment application imminently.
The firm has also recently represented Greek construction company AKTOR, defending a €23 million ICC award in set-aside proceedings filed by the Romanian motorway authority.
It has handled extensive work for Italian contractor Secol Societa Edile Costruzioni e Lavori, obtaining favourable results in three arbitrations before Court of International Commercial Arbitration in Bucharest including, most recently, a settlement in 2022. It also advised it in one ICC arbitration under an expedited procedure, which settled in 2020.
The firm is currently assisting Europolis, the Romanian subsidiary of Austrian real estate company CA Immobilien Anlagen, in a VIAC arbitration.
Laura Voinea, legal director at Romania’s state assets administration authority, commends the firm’s responsiveness and professionalism. 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
- Maritime Law
- Banking and Finance
- Distribution and Transport
- Real Estate and others.