Sullivan & Cromwell’s international arbitration practice is recognized as one of the leading international dispute resolution practices worldwide. For the second consecutive year, S&C has been recognized as one of the top 100 arbitration firms by Global Arbitration Review in its GAR 100: The Guide to Specialist Arbitration Firms, now in its fourth edition. Additionally, S&C’s international arbitration practice has been cited by Chambers Global in its annual listing of The World’s Leading Lawyers for nine consecutive years and in the Chambers USA listing since the inception of that publication in 2003. The PLC Which Lawyer? Yearbook and Global Counsel Dispute Resolution Handbook have likewise recommended S&C as a leading arbitration/dispute resolution firm in every edition since 2001, and the Firm’s arbitration practice also is ranked highly in Legalease’s The Legal 500: United States. In 2012, in its second edition, U.S. News - Best Lawyers Best Law Firms awarded S&C Tier 1 rankings Nationwide for International Arbitration - Governmental and International Arbitration - Commercial.
The Firm has handled international disputes for more than a century and has unparalleled expertise and experience in this area. In particular, S&C offers expertise in international commercial arbitration, which has become a part of many, if not most, major international disputes.
S&C’s arbitration lawyers are involved with numerous arbitration cases or claims characterized by large-dollar amount commercial arbitrations, along with a steady flow of sovereign work, typically for the investor.
We have handled arbitrations administered by all of the major arbitral institutions as well as ad hoc arbitrations – including proceedings before:
- International Chamber of Commerce (ICC)
- International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID)
- NAFTA Investment Dispute
- Stockholm and Zurich Chamber of Commerce
- Singapore International Arbitration Centre
S&C’s arbitration lawyers analyze issues and draft mediation and arbitration clauses in international joint venture and other financial and commercial agreements. They advise on business decisions and plans that pose arbitration and litigation risks. They develop strategies to resolve complex international disputes, such as those involving multiple claims, multiple parties, multiple jurisdictions and parallel or closely related arbitral and judicial proceedings, and they represent clients in arbitration, mediation and other alternative dispute resolution proceedings.
S&C’s recent arbitration experience extends to all regions of the world and encompasses a wide range of industries and issues. Clients for whom S&C has handled arbitration or dispute resolution matters reflect the international breadth of its client list and include, among many others: AB InBev, Bancolombia S.A., BP, Centerra Gold Inc., Consorcio Transmantaro, Exxon, Goldman Sachs, Grupo IMSA, Grupo Techint, IMS Health Incorporated, Microsoft, Minera Alumbrera Limited, Pharmacia, Philips, SCOR, Softbank, Statoil S.A., Telefónica S.A. and TeliaSonera AB.
Recent Arbitration Highlights
- S&C successfully represented NXP Semiconductors in connection with a multi-forum dispute, including an ICDR arbitration, brought by Exatel Visual Systems, Ltd. for $80 million arising out of claimed breaches of various commercial agreements regarding a set top box venture. Exatel, an Israeli firm, originally had filed suit against NXP in June 2010 in California state court, alleging fraud, breach of fiduciary duty and breach of contract arising out of these agreements. In those suits, Exatel claimed that NXP had destroyed its entire business, and was now bankrupt as a result of NXP’s conduct. However, some of the agreements under which Exatel sought to sue contained forum selection clauses, and NXP obtained a consent judgment in federal court in January 2011 forcing Exatel to split its claims among multiple fora and bring each of these actions in the proper forum specified in the agreements at issue. Four days into an arbitration hearing on the first of these separate actions, Exatel dismissed the arbitration and all other actions, and agreed to release NXP and its affiliates for zero consideration.
- In September 2011, an International Chamber of Commerce tribunal in Geneva issued a final award in favor of Sonera Holding B.V. (“Sonera”) in its arbitration against Cukurova Holding A.S. (“Cukurova”), finding that Cukurova had breached a contract with Sonera and, as a result, owed it $932 million in damages, plus interest, costs and attorneys’ fees. This is the fourth significant ICC arbitration victory that S&C has won for TeliaSonera in its battle with Cukurova over control of Turkcell Holding. It follows 2007 and 2009 decisions of the Geneva Tribunal that Sonera Holding had an enforceable contract to purchase the Turkcell Holding shares from Cukurova, and a 2008 decision of a Vienna Tribunal finding that a competing transaction by Cukurova with the Altimo group of Russia breached a shareholders’ agreement between Sonera and Cukurova.
- S&C represents a Cayman Islands-headquartered owner of a crude oil pipeline in (i) an insurance claim and potential arbitration against insurers arising out of a pipeline rupture, (ii) a dispute and potential arbitration with a shipper of oil and (iii) disputes with a sovereign relating to approximately $500 million in tax claims, and in particular with respect to potential arbitration against the government.
- S&C secured in 2010 a major international arbitration victory in a dispute between a client and its former parent company relating to the treatment of a multi-million dollar receivable transferred to S&C’s client in connection with its spin-off and subsequent IPO. Following extensive briefing and an evidentiary hearing conducted under the auspices of the LCIA, the presiding arbitrator resolved the dispute in favor of S&C’s client, granting its request for relief in full, and resulting in prompt payment to the client in excess of $30 million, which included reimbursement of the entire principal amount, plus interest, fees and costs.
- S&C advised a foreign-owned private pension fund manager in connection with Argentina’s nationalization in December 2008 of approximately $30 billion in pension fund assets.
- In June 2009, an S&C client initiated an arbitration against a counterparty to a supply contract in the aerospace industry seeking a declaration that its failure to supply certain parts constituted excusable delay as defined by the parties’ contract. The respondent sought in excess of $300 million in counterclaims related to the client’s alleged breach of the supply contract based on the client’s inability to perform. In a June 30, 2010 award, an ICC tribunal sitting in Geneva ruled in favor of Sullivan & Cromwell’s client.
- S&C advised a U.S. owner of significant mining assets in Venezuela in connection with actions by the Venezuelan government inconsistent with Venezuela’s grant of the mining concession, including with respect to arbitration claims against Venezuela and potential political-risk insurance claims.
- S&C represented the Japanese respondent in a dispute before the AAA between U.S. and Japanese companies arising from a tire purchase and sale agreement.
- S&C has been representing a European-headquartered bank in three separate ICDR arbitrations of claims by Latin American investors arising out of the $60 billion Madoff Ponzi scheme.
- In an example of successful coordination of international litigation and arbitration, S&C represented Bancolombia, the largest commercial bank in Colombia, in a long-running dispute arising out of the merger in 1997 with Banco de Colombia. The plaintiffs sought to pursue securities litigation in New York, citing the fact that Bancolombia’s ADRs trade on the New York Stock Exchange. S&C successfully moved to compel arbitration of the claims in Colombia. After the Colombian arbitral tribunal issued a 315-page award, plaintiffs sought unsuccessfully to continue their claims in New York. In June 2008, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit summarily affirmed the dismissal of the complaint.
- S&C acted as counsel in a dispute among U.S./European electronic information providers over allocation of shared tax liabilities.
- As part of its employment arbitration practice, headed by partners Ted Rogers and Rick Fessel, successfully defending a prominent financial firm in a series of NASD arbitrations in connection with claims by former employees concerning a stock award plan and compensation.
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