A global leader in international arbitration
Dechert’s international arbitration group is a global leader. We act as counsel on behalf of multinational corporations, businesses of all sizes, high-net worth individuals, sovereign States and State-owned enterprises. We have a strong reputation for cutting-edge work in large commercial and investment disputes. Our clients also benefit from our keen understanding of how tribunals function, as our experience includes acting as arbitrators in scores of international arbitrations worldwide. Our diverse team, based in principal arbitration centers around the world, handles sensitive and complex matters for our clients in any forum and jurisdiction. We offer our clients the extensive resources available from a global law firm, yet we maintain a boutique-sized arbitration practice led by twelve world-renowned partners to ensure the quality of our arbitrations.
We are a top-shelf specialty practice with global resources. As a specialty practice of 50 lawyers, we offer deep partner involvement and lean teams to control costs and ensure the highest quality work product. At the same time, our position within a global law firm allows us to put maximum resources at our clients’ fingertips. Among these resources are legal expertise across practices and offices, direct connections to industry experts and professional fluency in more than 40 languages.
Resounding Victory for MOL Hungarian Oil and Gas
Republic of Croatia v MOL Hungarian Oil and Gas PLC - UNCITRAL - PCA No. 2014-15
Dechert secured a victory for MOL Hungarian Oil & Gas Plc ("MOL") in a bet-the company, multi-billion dollar arbitration. The Republic of Croatia initiated this Geneva based arbitration against MOL in 2014 under the UNCITRAL rules. Croatia alleged that MOL, the largest company in Hungary and the second largest in Central and Eastern Europe, had acquired controlling rights in Croatia’s national energy company, Ina Industrije Nafte d.d ("INA"), by paying a 10 million euro bribe to former Croatian Prime Minister Ivo Sanader. Croatia also alleged that MOL had mismanaged INA, causing billions of dollars in damages to the Croatian economy. Finally, Croatia alleged that MOL’s management structure in INA was illegal under Croatian corporate law.
The UNCITRAL tribunal completely cleared MOL of Croatia's bribery allegations and dismissed every claim brought by Croatia against MOL. The UNCITRAL tribunal also awarded almost all of MOL's legal fees and costs — in excess of US$15 million — which Croatia is required to pay to MOL.
Landmark Victory for the Republic of Ecuador
Burlington Resources Inc. v. Republic of Ecuador, ICSID Case No. ARB/08/5
Dechert successfully defended Ecuador in a landmark arbitration brought by Burlington Resources Inc. The arbitration arose out of the enactment by Ecuador of windfall-profits taxes on private oil revenues corresponding to the increase in oil prices in the mid-2000s. In reaction, Burlington ceased to pay its dues and subsequently abandoned its operations in the Amazon region of Ecuador. At the same time, Ecuador submitted counterclaims against Burlington, notably for the substantial harm caused by its operations to the sensitive ecosystem of the Amazonian rainforest.
In a historic decision, the tribunal awarded Ecuador over US$41 million plus interest for the environmental damage caused by Burlington. The tribunal dismissed all but one of Burlington’s claims and found that Burlington was entitled to just a fraction of the compensation it sought for Ecuador assuming operation of the abandon project, i.e., some US$379 million as compared to US1.35 billion.
Total Exoneration for the Czech Republic
WNC Factoring Ltd. (UK) v. The Czech Republic, PCA Case No. 2014-34 (UNCITRAL)
Dechert secured a total victory for the Czech Republic before an international arbitration tribunal at the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague. The claimant, WNC Factoring Ltd., a British company, acquired a Czech state-owned company, Škodaexport (ČEX, a.s.) (later known as BA MU EXPORT, a.s.), following a privatization process and public tender. When the company failed and entered into bankruptcy, the claimant asserted that the Czech Republic was at fault for allegedly mishandling the privatization process and failing to provide certain financing through the Czech Export Bank. The claimant brought its claims under the Bilateral Investment Treaty between the United Kingdom and the Czech Republic, seeking damages of US$90 million, later adjusted down to US$71.5 million.
Dechert represented respondent Czech Republic as co-counsel along with another firm. On 22 February 2017, the tribunal — comprising Dr. Gavan Griffith QC (Presiding Arbitrator), Professor Robert Volterra and H.E. Judge James Crawford — issued its final award, rejecting the claimant’s claims in their entirety and ordering the claimant to pay the respondent’s costs.
Record-Breaking Annulment for the Republic of Ecuador
Occidental Petroleum Corporation and Occidental Exploration and Production Company v. The Republic of Ecuador, ICSID Case No. ARB/06/11
On behalf of Ecuador, Dechert won an unprecedented 40% reduction of an ICSID arbitration award through an annulment proceeding. The dispute arose from the termination of a production sharing contract for an oil field in the Amazon. In an award rendered on 5 October 2012, the tribunal awarded Occidental a staggering US$2.3 billion award plus post award interest. Dechert filed for annulment and won a record-breaking reduction in damages in a landmark decision.
Resounding Victory for Dominican Republic’s State Entity
Haina Investment Co., Ltd. v. Fondo Patrimonial de las Empresas Reformadas, ICC arbitration
Dechert scored a resounding victory for the Dominican Republic’s Fondo Patrimonial de las Empresas Reformadas (“FONPER”) in an arbitration against Haina Investment Co. (“HIC”), before the ICC International Court of Arbitration. FONPER and HIC jointly own the electric power company Empresa Generadora de Electricidad Haina S.A. (“EGE Haina”) which provides electricity to consumers in the Dominican Republic. In 2012, FONPER brought criminal charges against certain directors of EGE Haina, alleging certain wrongdoing that harmed FONPER and the Republic. HIC then filed for arbitration against FONPER, seeking a declaration that HIC was in compliance with its obligations under EGE Haina’s Bylaws and HIC’s Administration Contract. FONPER counter-claimed in the arbitration that HIC had violated its contractual obligations by transferring certain of its income tax obligations to EGE Haina and thereby obtained an unjust enrichment to the detriment of EGE Haina, FONPER, and the Republic.
The tribunal accepted our client’s counter-claim and ordered HIC to compensate our client for economic damages in the amount of approximately US$30 million. The tribunal also ordered HIC to pay damages to certain minority shareholders and to EGE Haina, bringing the total award to nearly US$46 million. Following the resolution of the dispute, the Parties’ joint venture will continue to generate electricity for the Dominican Republic with HIC assuming its proper income tax liability going forward.
- Investor-State Arbitration
Dechert represents clients “in high-value ICSID, PCA-administered UNCITRAL and ad hoc investment treaty arbitrations” (Chambers Europe, 2019). Dechert’s international arbitration lawyers have acted in more than 50 investment treaty arbitrations on behalf of investors and States, including many cases that generated new law in our field. Our experience includes arbitrations before both the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) and the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA), and in ad hoc arbitrations under UNCITRAL Rules.
We are widely recognized for representing States and State Owned Enterprises of 20 different countries across all continents, with particular strength in Latin America. A significant proportion of our investment arbitration experience has been on behalf of investors, with matters arising in Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, North America and Central and South America. Our representation of both investors and States gives us a unique perspective and expertise that is reflected in our record of success, and earns us the respect of arbitral tribunals as objective and trustworthy advocates.
- International Commercial Arbitration
We represent major private sector clients in hundreds of international commercial arbitrations before the world’s major arbitral institutions, including CIETAC, ICC, ICDR, LCIA, SCC and SIAC, as well as under UNCITRAL rules. Our team members have served on the drafting committee of the rules of the PCA and have literally written the book on ICC, CIETAC and SIAC arbitration.
Our team includes individuals who have served in senior positions at the International Court of Arbitration of the ICC and the Arbitration and Mediation Centre of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), and who participate actively in the governance bodies of arbitral institutions.
- Public International Law
Dechert has extensive experience in public international law, including disputes over sovereignty and maritime boundaries, treaty interpretation and state secession. We also have extensive advocacy experience before international courts and tribunals. Our lawyers have worked for governments and international organizations across the globe and are known for their deep understanding of the complex interplay of political, cultural, social and economic considerations that are involved in representing sovereigns and their constituencies. Moreover, our team members have advanced degrees in public international law, teach public international law at various universities and have served previously as members of government legal departments, the United Nations, intergovernmental organizations and other international tribunals. Dechert’s Public International Law group is a subset of its International Arbitration group, which is a recognized global leader.
- Global Experience
Our global team is multi-cultural, multi-lingual, and multi-jurisdictional. We have dedicated arbitration lawyers based in Beijing, Brussels, Dubai, London, New York, Paris, Singapore, and Washington, D.C. Our lawyers have handled matters before every major arbitration institution in the world and arising on every continent from the West to the Far East.
Our U.S. team is noted for its “international focus” and its “excellent commercial approach, which enables the best results” for its clients (Legal 500 USA, 2019).
- Washington, DC. Our team in Washington, D.C. is at the epicenter of investor-State arbitration. Our lawyers have a long track record of success acting for both investors and a variety of sovereigns in investment treaty arbitrations before the ICSID, located just steps from our office. We also have extensive experience in ad hoc investment arbitrations under UNCITRAL Rules, including recent, high-profile, resounding victories against Croatia and for the Czech Republic.
- New York. In New York, our team handles international commercial arbitrations involving a wide range of industries in both ICC and ICDR arbitrations. Working hand in glove with our international litigation team, we also assist clients with the multinational enforcement of judgments and arbitral awards, having run enforcement matters spanning more than 15 countries.
We are the gold standard in international arbitrations arising in Latin America. We act on behalf of sovereign and corporate clients in dozens of treaty and commercial arbitrations throughout the region. Our Latin America arbitrations are led by diverse teams that include some of the world’s leading international arbitration attorneys from Latin America and Spain. Our team’s training in civil law and fluency in Spanish and Portuguese — in addition to common-law experience and absolute English fluency — allow us to work efficiently and effectively both on the ground and before any tribunal. Exemplary matters include achieving the largest annulment in ICSID history on behalf of Ecuador, and succeeding on an innovative, multi-million dollar counterclaim against a foreign investor for environmental damage in the Amazon.
Dechert is "particularly strong in the European market" (Chambers Global, 2019).
- Paris. Established in the historical center of arbitration near the Court of Arbitration of the ICC, our team in Paris team acts handles numerous major commercial and investment arbitrations from around the world, with particular strength in disputes arising in Latin America. The team also handles multiple matters involving French parties, French law, and proceedings in France. Our lawyers in Paris are also well versed in enforcement and annulment proceedings in France. As an example, we represent France's second-largest oil company in an ICC arbitration seated in Paris against a Lebanese company and its Belgian affiliate and governed by French law, regarding certain oil fields in Iraq.
- London. In London our international arbitration team draws from a complex commercial litigation practice of over 40 lawyers including solicitors, arbitrators and mediators with experience before the LCIA and the ICC. Fifteen Dechert lawyers are members of the LCIA Users' Councils. Our London team has handled major international arbitrations arising in diverse sectors, including energy, mining, construction, financial services, technology, hospitality and shareholder disputes. In one case, our team represented multiple Russian companies in a complex, US$2 billion multi-jurisdictional dispute concerning a Russian joint venture, which played out in two separate LCIA arbitrations seated in London.
- Brussels. Our lawyers in Brussels have a strong presence at the heart of Europe and are experienced in disputes involving the interplay between arbitration and EU law, particularly in the investment treaty context. For example, we represented the Czech Republic in four investment arbitration involving the real estate and gaming sectors and privatization issues.
Dechert arbitration lawyers have extensive experience working with clients throughout Africa. Adept at navigating the difficult political contexts in which many disputes arise, we have advised leading international companies in their disputes with African States, including in the telecom and mining industries. We have also acted in a number of commercial disputes, ranging from a construction project in North Africa to shareholder issues in a renewable energy project in East Africa.
Dechert assists sovereign and corporate clients with dispute resolution in the Middle East, with particular strength in construction and engineering disputes. Our lawyers have conducted numerous international commercial arbitrations in the UAE before DIAC in addition to regional and international arbitrations before the ICC, LCIA, and under UNCITRAL rules. We handle major investment disputes involving Middle Eastern States, as well as sensitive maritime and boundary disputes in the Middle East under treaties and public international law.
Clients rely on our understanding of local business and regulatory practices across Asia to resolve international commercial and investment disputes.
From our Singapore office, we handle contract and treaty arbitrations arising in Central, South and Southeast Asia before the Singapore International Arbitration Center (SIAC) and in ICC arbitration. We also co-author the leading treatise on SIAC arbitration. In one case example, we are advising a U.S. oil major in a series of high value complex disputes against an Asian government and state-owned entities arising under several production sharing contracts.
- Industry Expertise
We are widely recognized for advising clients "from an array of industry sectors" (Chambers Global, 2017). Our team has handled landmark arbitrations around the world, as counsel and arbitrator, arising in the energy, mining, construction and telecom sectors.
In the oil and gas sector, we have acted as counsel to oil majors and independents, States, and State Owned Enterprises on dozens of disputes arising from concessions, production sharing contracts, and gas pricing agreements, with amounts in controversy totaling billions of dollars. For example, in Europe, we scored a total victory for an investor, MOL Hungarian Oil and Gas, against Croatia in an arbitration that put the “crown jewel” of Croatia’s economy at stake. In South America, we helped Bolivia settle a treaty claim at The Hague brought by a German-Peruvian oil consortium for US$16 million – around half of what the claimants wanted.
We are widely recognized for specializing in mining matters. Our team has acted as counsel to some of the largest mining companies in the world and to sovereigns in mining disputes arising in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America. As an example, our lawyers represented Pac Rim Cayman against El Salvador in one of the first CAFTA disputes presented to an ICSID tribunal. In another case, we defended Colombia in a major UNCITRAL arbitration against a foreign mining company concerning a gold mine, the environment and indigenous communities.
Construction and engineering disputes are one of our core practice areas. We have counseled State Owned Enterprises, contractors, engineers, and architects in disputes concerning large scale private construction and major public infrastructure. Our experience in construction arbitrations includes projects and parties in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East and North America. In one public matter, we represented European construction companies against the State of Kuwait concerning a billion-dollar highway project.
Dechert is well known for its expertise in the resolution of international disputes arising the telecommunications industry. Having handled numerous telecom arbitrations, Dechert’s lawyers are knowledgeable about telecom operators, markets and regulations. In one famous case, we scored a victory for France Telecom in a $1.5 billion shareholders’ dispute with Orascom for control of the Egyptian mobile network Mobinil. An ICC tribunal found in favor of France Telecom and ordered Orascom to sell its stake in Mobinil. In another case, we helped Bolivia settle an expropriation claim by a Dutch unit of Telecom Italia for US$100 million – about 10 percent of what the investor had claimed it was owed.
- Avant Garde Arbitration
Dechert is consistently recognized by the Financial Times as one of the most innovative law firms in the world. In an increasingly interconnected world, we are pioneering the use of international arbitration in new areas, including the internet, life sciences, corruption cases and corporate disputes.
Dechert is well-known for its expertise in the area of Internet governance and disputes involving the introduction of top-level domains against the International Corporation for Assigned Names and Number (ICANN), which is the global regulator of the Internet. Dechert has prevailed in every arbitration it has brought against ICANN. In one case, we represented ICM Registry in the first ever full Independent Review Process against ICANN regarding the .XXX sponsored top-level domain. This was the first decision to state that general principles of international law apply to the governance of the Internet.
Dechert’s team has handled a wide variety of life sciences disputes before many of the world’s leading international arbitration institutions, as well as ad hoc arbitrations under a variety of arbitral rules. We have handled international arbitration disputes in the life sciences industry in almost every corner of the globe, under the laws of many different jurisdictions, and involving a broad array of legal issues, technologies, and business arrangements.
We have unique expertise in international arbitrations which involve allegations of bribery or other corporate or government corruption, using methods borrowed from criminal law practice. In one headline case, we defeated bribery allegations lodged by Croatia against MOL Hungarian Oil and Gas, by importing elements of criminal investigatory method, law and procedure, and human rights law into the international arbitral forum, using ex-Scotland Yard investigators and co-counseling with leading international white collar criminal lawyers. In another well-known matter, we represented Taiwan in an ICC arbitration related to the payment of illicit commissions related to a military procurement contract for the purchase of six frigates from Thales. We successfully defended the jurisdictional and procedural objections raised by Thales and secured a Final Award in favor of Taiwan in the amount of US$830 million. It was the largest ICC award ever made in France.
We are highly skilled at resolving all types of corporate disputes, including those relating to mergers and acquisitions, tender and exchange offers, shareholders’ agreements, leveraged buyouts, deadlock provisions and joint ventures. We are accustomed to handling domestic and international corporate disputes in both the public and private spheres. For example, our lawyers represented French and Spanish clients in parallel ad hoc arbitrations against a European food-and-beverage conglomerate arising from a shareholder dispute. Our clients were awarded €750 million in damages.
- Arbitrator Appointments
We act in numerous cases not only as counsel, but also as arbitrators. With team members currently holding over 50 arbitrator appointments, we have an extremely high level of arbitrator experience. Through our arbitrator work, we are constantly engaged in the creation, not just the study, of new sources of international law. And our arbitrator experience gives us invaluable insight into how arbitrators think and decide cases, making us ever more effective as counsel.
- International arbitrations involving states and state-owned enterprises
Dechert’s international arbitration group is a recognized leader for complex disputes involving states and state-owned enterprises.
We represent clients on a large variety of contractual claims as well as on claims of expropriation or unfair treatment and other investor-state disputes under free trade agreements (FTAs), bilateral investment treaties (BITs), and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Our experience includes arbitrations before, among other institutions, the ICC, the ICSID, the PCA, and in ad hoc arbitrations under UNCITRAL rules.
Dechert’s lawyers have acted in several international commercial arbitrations involving states and state entities as well as in more than 50 investment treaty arbitrations on behalf of investors and states, including many cases that generated new law. We are widely recognized for representing states and state-owned enterprises of 20 different countries across all continents. A significant proportion of our investment arbitration experience has been on behalf of investors in Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, North America and Central and South America. Our representation of both investors and states gives us a unique perspective that is reflected in our record of success, and earns us the respect of arbitral tribunals as objective and trustworthy advocates.
In addition to our work advising on investment treaty disputes and in commercial disputes involving state or state entities, we advise our clients on Public International Law.