Willkie Farr & Gallagher
Located in key business centers throughout the world, Willkie is comprised of the best local market talent in shared strategic areas of practice. Our firm's areas of concentration and services are aligned to ensure high quality and consistently responsive counsel across our international network of offices. Our continuous focus on the synergies within our firm is supported by a firm culture that values collaboration and cooperation.
Willkie's international experience, including the representation of U.S and international corporations and investment banking clients in mergers and acquisitions, securities offerings, joint ventures, and private equity transactions, is both deep and broad. Our ability to negotiate and close deals, coupled with in-depth knowledge of a region's particular rules and regulations, financial and political regimes, and customs and cultures ensures that clients seeking to conduct cross-border business get the maximum benefit from our experience.
Our European presence dates back to 1925, when first opened our Paris office. We now have six offices in Europe that assist both European and U.S clients in a wide range of matters involving private equity, capital markets, M&A, insurance, corporate law, business reorganization, tax, litigation, white-collar advice, and EU competition and antitrust law. Our offices in Europe from a seamless network along with their U.S counterparts to assist clients in cross-border work around the globe.
Established in 1921, Willkie's Paris office is the cornerstone of the firm's European presence, with over 100 lawyers, including 22 partners and 8 counsel. The Paris office is distinguished by its historical presence in the French market and its leading Corporate & Financial Services practice.
Our lawyers represent high-profile French and multinational companies, investment funds and financial institutions in the most sophisticated legal matters,; business disputes and transactions.
Clients working with our team leverage a deep understanding of the French marketplace and the significant resources of our international firm. In both domestic and cross-border settings, we provide legal guidance across eight core areas of practice.
INTERNATIONAL ARBITRATION PRACTICE OVERVIEW
Market-Leading International Arbitration Practice for France & Cross-Border
Our France-based international arbitration team, comprising 13 professionals, including two partners, two counsel, four associates and five law clerks, is one of the leading teams in Paris.
Big news for clients of the firm is the creation of a brand-new dedicated international arbitration group, co-chaired by Partner, Grégoire Bertrou in Paris and Partner, Duncal Speller in London, enabling us to provide a full, high-end service for clients across jurisdictions.
Our current portfolio of arbitration cases (both as counsel and arbitrator), with a combined value exceeding US$10 billion, and our portfolio of annulment proceedings of arbitral awards, cements our position as one of the leading teams in the market.
We regularly partner with lawyers from offices across our firm, to provide clients with seamless expertise in cross-border work involving both arbitration and litigation.
Our focus is on high-profile disputes and complex matters involving high levels of business risk, and we are particularly experienced in managing cases involving multiple fora.
We have an enviable record of settling cases and achieving results.
Advisers of First Choice on Clients’ Most Significant Mandates
We have led work on some of the most significant matters for our clients.
By way of example, this has included a successful full dismissal of the claims in an ICC arbitration (US$525 million) and costs order in our client’s favour in May 2021; among many more.
In addition, our team was appointed in December 2019 as lead counsel for the Kyrgyz Republic in all of its on-going arbitration and enforcement/set aside cases.
Since then, we have taken on nine complex investment arbitrations, enforcement/set aside proceedings, as well as advisory work, for the Kyrgyz Republic.
In October 2021, we secured a landmark victory for the Kyrgyz State in Penwell Business Limited v. Kyrgyz Republic, where the Tribunal dismissed the entirety of claimant’s US$298 claim on jurisdiction/admissibility grounds, due to illegality of the underlying investment.
In November 2021, we secured another favourable settlement for the Kyrgyz State in VIP Kyrgyzstan & Menacrest v. Kyrgyz Republic, whereby claimants withdrew all their claims (circa US$74 million), with prejudice, and bearing the near-totality of the arbitration costs.
In March 2022, we secured another landmark victory for the Kyrgyz State, this time before the Cour de Cassation, France's highest court, in Valery Belokon v. Kyrgyz Republic, whereby the Court upheld the lower court’s decision to annul an investment treaty award in favor of a claimant on grounds of violating international public policy by allowing the claimant to benefit from the proceeds of illicit activities.
In April 2022, we assisted the Kyrgyz Republic with finalizing the ratification of the ICSID Convention, thereby completing the process of joining this global institution that started back in 1995 for the Republic.
We are also advising the Republic on revamping its investment protection legal framework, with the first practical step being amendments to its Law on Investments, adopted in August 2022.
We are expecting further landmark awards in the context of our representation of the Kyrgyz Republic.
Our team is also representing Port de Djibouti in a high-profile LCIA case related to the termination of a joint-venture agreement for operating port infrastructure; and a major French travel retail group in a post-M&A ICC arbitration in the context of the sale of its activities in Benelux; among many more, confirming the market-leading nature of our skills in this field.
In December 2022, we have initiated a high-value, first-of-a-kind mass claim on behalf of nearly 20 investors against a Sovereign State for breaches of international law following an armed conflict.
Strong Market-Recognition for, and Thought Leadership of, Rapidly-Developing Practice
For our expert counsel in the international arbitration space, we have received strong market recognition.
Promoted in January 2021, Counsel, Sergey Alekhin was one of 10 Russian-speaking lawyers honoured in 2018, 2019, 2021 and 2022 as a ‘Top 10 Young Arbitration Practitioner’ by the RAA40, the Russian Arbitration Association’s under 40 division. This marks the fourth time that Sergey was included in this prestigious ranking. Sergey has also been listed as “Arbitration Future Leader” by Who’s Who Legal: Arbitration 2023 rankings.
Partner, Dominique Mondoloni was recognised by Forbes France among the 40 leading lawyers advising companies on the CAC 40. In addition, the firm as a whole is ranked as ‘Excellent’ by leading French guide Décideurs in International Arbitration; and ranked in the French magazine Option Droit & Affaires as a Two-Star practice for international arbitration.
In addition to the recognition we continue to receive from benchmark publications, we bring key thought leadership to the market.
Partner, Grégoire Bertrou recently co-wrote in the Cahiers de l’Arbitrage on ‘Arbitrage d’urgence et procédure judiciaire de référé : la cour d’appel de Paris approuve la compétence partagée’ (together with Associate, Hugo Piguet) and in La Revue de l’Arbitrage on ‘Arbitrage et conformité : dans quelles circonstances les tribunaux arbitraux peuvent et doivent-ils ordonner la divulgation par les parties de leurs bénéficiaires économiques effectifs ?’ (together with Associate, Dmitry Bayandin) and ‘Arbitrage d'investissement et allégations de corruption : la licéité de l'investissement est, par principe, une question de fond qui ne relève pas de l'appréciation de la compétence du tribunal arbitral’ (together with Associates, Hugo Piguet and Dmitry Bayandin).
Grégoire also recently published the French arbitration chapter of the Chambers and Partners Practice Guide.
Since 2012, he has also taught international arbitration in the Master 2 Global Business Law and Governance joint programme brought by La Sorbonne, Sciences Po Paris and Columbia.