Houthoff listed in Global Arbitration Review’s GAR 100
28 May 2020
The Global Arbitration Review published its GAR 100 - 13th edition. We are honoured to be included in the GAR 100 among the world’s elite firms for international arbitration. The criteria for the survey included reputation, experience and the amount of work.
A Houthoff summary from the GAR findingsThe strong arbitration practice is led by Dirk Knottenbelt, who is president of the supervisory board of the Netherlands Arbitration Institute and a board member of the Dutch Arbitration Association.
The practice has three other full-time partners: Marielle Koppenol-Laforce (who leads the Yukos matter), Rob Meijer and the recently promoted Thomas Stouten.
Who uses it?
Besides Russia, a notable client on public record is Brazilian state oil and gas company Petrobras, which has used the firm to resist enforcement of a USD 700 million award.
The firm’s biggest success came in 2016 when it persuaded the Hague District Court to set aside three Energy Charter Treaty awards that had required Russia to pay USD 50 billion to the former majority shareholders of Yukos Oil Company. However, the awards were reinstated in early 2020, with the Hague Court of Appeal rejecting all of Russia’s grounds of challenge. An appeal before the Dutch Supreme Court is pending. Houthoff is co-counselling with Belgian firm Hanotiau & van den Berg on the case.
Besides the Yukos matter, Houthoff has been representing Russia in four different set-aside proceedings relating to various investment treaty awards in favour of Ukrainian investors in Crimea who say their investments were seized following the territory’s 2014 annexation. The total amount at stake in the four cases is around USD 7 billion.
The firm has also teamed up with Russian firm Ivanyan & Partners and Schellenberg Wittmer in Switzerland to represent Russia in other pending Crimea-related cases underway at the Permanent Court of Arbitration.
Houthoff helped Texas-registered company Wells Ultimate Service obtain a USD 12 million ICC award in 2018 against a subsidiary of Venezuela’s national oil and gas company PDVSA over its failure to honour a contract for the purchase of motors used on drilling platforms. However, the Court of Appeal in The Hague partially annulled the award in late 2019 on the ground that the underlying contract was procured by corruption. Houthoff was also counsel in the set-aside proceedings.
One user praises Houthoff’s “seamless” service as well as its practitioners’ ability to quickly learn the industry specifics in cases. Knottenbelt and Stouten are “easy to work with” and “gifted” in regards to case management and preparation, as well as having impressive advocacy skills.