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International Arbitration

Allen & Overy has one of the world’s leading International Arbitration practices and a long track record of achieving successful outcomes for our clients in high-value, complex disputes.

The members of Allen & Overy International Arbitration Group act as advocates and regularly sit as arbitrators. Carrying out both roles allows us to offer our clients a significantly higher standard of service. It also enables us to build excellent relationships with the most respected arbitrators and arbitration practitioners worldwide.

We are able to act in arbitrations arising anywhere in the world, under any national legal system, as well as public international law. With dedicated arbitration specialists in London, Paris, Hong Kong, Dubai and Singapore, as well as across Continental Europe, Australia, Russia and mainland China, there are few firms that can match our footprint for international arbitration expertise. The Group is led by Global Co-Heads, Matthew Gearing QC and Mark Levy, Partners in Hong Kong and London respectively.

We represent our clients in international commercial and investment treaty arbitration. We are particularly recognised for our expertise in the natural resources and energy sectors, including gas price reviews and renewables, as well as arbitrations relating to banking and complex financial products, and intellectual property. Our Energy Charter Treaty practice is second to none.

We have significant experience of conducting arbitration proceedings under all the key institutional rules, including those of the LCIA, ICC, HKIAC, SIAC and ICSID, as well as the UNCITRAL Rules. Our experience also includes court litigation in support of arbitration. Our work before the UK Supreme Court, for our client AES, in Ust-Kamenogorsk Hydropower Plant JSC v AES Ust-Kamenogorsk Hydropower Plant LLP, was commended as &;Standout&; in the Financial Times Innovative Lawyers Report 2014 (which we also won overall; A&O was named the 2014 &;Most Innovative Law Firm in Europe, a record fourth win).

We are also the firm that the ICC itself comes to when it needs assistance and we have acted for it in several matters, including the ICC& (successful) intervention to the UK Supreme Court in order to overturn a Court of Appeal judgment (Jivraj v Hashwani), which had significant implications for arbitration in England and Wales.
Through our research, publications, conference papers and contributions to working groups, we contribute to the development of international arbitration.

Recent examples of our work

Recent examples of our work include representing:
  • BG and Reliance Industries in an arbitration commenced against the Government of India under the UNCITRAL Rules 1976, with a seat in London. The claims arise in respect of two oil and gas fields located off the west coast of India. The value in dispute exceeds USD1 billion. The Government has sought to challenge in the Indian Courts a partial award issued by the Tribunal. We successfully had the case fast-tracked to the Indian Supreme Court, which, in May 2014, confirmed, as our clients had argued, that the Indian courts do not have jurisdiction to set aside the arbitral awards in this case.
  • Deutsche Bank in its claim against Sri Lanka, under the Germany-Sri Lanka bilateral investment treaty, for interfering with obligations in an oil hedging agreement between the bank and a state-owned oil company. Deutsche Bank was awarded its claim in full, plus interest and its full legal costs, totalling around USD78 million. This is the first case to find a complex financial product to be a protected &investment&; and is one of only three investment cases (out of more than 200 for which data are available) where the investor recovered 100% of its claim.
  • A major multinational in a series of arbitrations against its insurers for reimbursement of various U.S. product liability claims arising from the use of a pharmaceutical product. The coverage claims arise under the Bermuda Form policy, with which Allen & Overy has extensive expertise. The arbitrations involve complex issues of pharmaceutical regulation (including by the FDA), new drug applications, pre-clinical and clinical studies, epidemiological studies, adverse event reporting, post-market surveillance, product labelling and warnings, pharmaceutical marketing, and mass tort pharmaceutical litigation in the U.S. The underlying product liability claims exceed USD1 billion.
  • The Republic of Slovenia in an ICSID arbitration under the ECT and a bilateral treaty defending claims brought by Hrvatska Elektroprivreda, the national electricity company of Croatia. The dispute arose from the ownership and operation of a nuclear power plant in Slovenian territory that was constructed before the two countries became independent from the former Yugoslavia.
  • Four different Asia-based banks in separate LCIA arbitrations arising under ISDA master agreements against counterparties, including obtaining anti-suit injunctive relief from the English courts. We are at the forefront of resolving derivatives disputes through international arbitration.
  • A Middle Eastern company in connection with a series of gas price adjustments under a long-term energy supply contract governed by New York law, under ICC arbitration rules`, with a Geneva seat.
  • An oil supermajor in an ICC arbitration arising out of a joint venture dispute relating to drilling operations off the coast of West Africa. This case involved proceedings for urgent interim relief before both the local courts in West Africa and the arbitral tribunal.
  • Bank of Cyprus as respondent in a highly complex ICC arbitration claim, brought by CNP Assurances, which sought in excess of EUR200m in damages. The claims arose out of the Eurozone crisis, in particular the 2013 Cypriot bail-in legislation. We successfully defeated the claims, which were dismissed in their entirety. Bank of Cyprus was also awarded the majority of its costs.
  • Five different companies from three different countries in two ICC arbitration proceedings with an amount in dispute of around EUR 1.5 billion and approximately EUR 1 billion respectively, with regard to a dispute concerning the purchase of a shipyard. The matter involves several complex legal issues in particular relating to state immunity, investment law and the calculation of quantum.
  • A number of major international energy providers in claims brought under the periodic price-review provisions of long-term gas-supply contracts (both pipeline and LNG). These disputes, which are at various stages of the arbitration process, take place at a critical juncture for the European gas-supply industry. The disputes concern complex and challenging issues of gas valuation on a variety of differently structured European markets that are at various stages of maturity.
  • South Stream (a Gazprom subsidiary) in ICC arbitration proceedings brought by Italian energy services company Saipem in connection with the termination of an approximately EUR2 billion contract for the construction of a 900km gas pipeline from Russia to Bulgaria across the Black Sea. Saipem is seeking approximately EUR760m in damages but South Stream disputes the allegations and has raised several counterclaims.

News & insights

Publications: 27 NOVEMBER 2019

New remuneration for renewable energy in Spain

More favourable treatment seeks to avoid the initiation of new arbitration proceedings and to terminate existing ones

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Coloured wool

Publications: 22 OCTOBER 2019

Sanctioned entity cannot claim interest for period when payment is prevented by financial sanctions

A sanctioned entity was not entitled to post-award interest on an arbitral award for the period that EU financial sanctions were imposed on that entity. The decision provides useful guidance on the interpretation of “no claims” and “non-liability” provisions, which are commonly found in sanctions legislation: Ministry of Defence & Support for Armed Forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran v International Military Services Ltd [2019] EWHC 1994 (Comm)

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Coloured wool

Publications: 22 OCTOBER 2019

Defining the seat of arbitration: when “venue” means legal seat

In proceedings to enforce a USD6.6 billion arbitration award against the Federal Republic of Nigeria (Nigeria), which was resisted on the grounds that the arbitration was not seated in England, the court held that a reference to ‘venue’ in an arbitration agreement referred to the legal seat. Nigeria further argued that enforcement should nevertheless be refused on public policy grounds because of the allegedly excessive amount awarded. That was rejected, with the court reaffirming the strong public policy in favour of enforcement: Process & Industrial Developments Ltd v Nigeria [2019] EWHC 2241 (Comm).

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Publications: 16 AUGUST 2019

State of play: a review of sovereign immunity cases

A tanker truck, converted into a bomb, was detonated near the north face of building #131 at the Khobar Towers complex in Saudi Arabia shortly before 10 pm on 25 June 1996, according to the 2001 U.S. federal grand jury indictment. It killed 19 U.S. service men and injured hundreds. Some 23 years later, in Heiser et al v Iran, the English High Court had to consider whether 12 U.S. civil judgments relating to this and other terrorist incidents could be enforced in the UK. It decided they could not.

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