Additional Specialized Areas of Focus

Sovereign Disputes

They have very experienced and skilled international lawyers ... They are very focused and responsive, and have the ability to understand complex local issues quickly.
– Chambers USA
"They are smart, fast and proactive," whilst "being very calm and giving a lot of confidence to the client."
– Chambers Global
Where Advocacy Meets Business

Sovereign disputes are unique. We understand the complexities of litigating under the US Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (including the enforcement of arbitral awards), arbitrating disputes involving investment treaties, and advising on public international law. We have acted for and against sovereign states and state-owned entities in nearly 40 cases since we opened the firm in 2009, including 12 in the past three years.


  • The German State of Bavaria in federal court litigation in the Southern District of New York over disputed ownership of a major artwork.  Following an evidentiary hearing, we obtained the dismissal of all claims against Bavaria for lack of jurisdiction under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (“FSIA”).  On appeal, we obtained an affirmance of the judgment in Bavaria’s favor.  We have since been retained by Bavaria in a second, pending action in the Southern District of New York involving unrelated, significant artworks.  In that case as well, we are seeking dismissal of all claims against Bavaria on sovereign immunity grounds under the FSIA.
  • The state-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation in pending proceedings in the Southern District of New York against an attempt by the Nigerian subsidiaries of two major international oil companies to enforce a Nigerian arbitral award for more than $2 billion that previously had been set aside by a Nigerian court.
  • The Republic of Moldova in proceedings in the Southern District of New York concerning the enforcement of a Russian arbitral award arising from a disputed contract with the state-owned Russian gas company, Gazprom.
  • The Cook Islands in federal court litigation in the District of Columbia arising from the alleged breach of an investment agreement.  Obtained dismissal following favorable settlement.
  • The Central Bank of Iran in widely publicized litigation involving efforts by parties holding billions of dollars in judgments against Iran to execute against approximately $2 billion in assets seized in a New York bank account. The litigation resulted in a decision by the United States Supreme Court in 2016 concerning whether Congress’s enactment of a statute targeted exclusively at this specific case violates the constitutional separation of powers.

As described above, we have been involved in countless sovereign-related arbitrations, some examples of which include representing:

  • US power company against an Indian state government instrumentality in an ad hoc commercial arbitration. We successfully defended a multi-hundred million dollar claim and were awarded full recovery of costs.   (New York and Indian law; Indian seat)
  • UN agency in a Singapore-seated UNCITRAL arbitration against a Japanese construction company concerning the design of a project in Timor-Este.  We obtained a favorable settlement on the eve of trial. (Singapore seat)
  • Global energy company in an ICSID arbitration with  Peru, resulting in a favorable declaration that an adverse tax assessment against our client was invalid and contrary to an international Legal Stabilization Agreement as well as public international law.
  • Liberia in a contractual submission to ICSID brought by a private mining company arising out of a gold mining concession.  This dispute presented novel issues concerning binding successor administrations.   The dispute was resolved on favorable terms.
  • Sovereign in an ICC arbitration against a US investor in a dispute arising out of an attempted investment in an educational facility in the South Pacific (and parallel US litigation).  (Cook Islands law; London seat)
  • Construction company in an ICC arbitration against a state-owned entity owner with combined claims of over $650 million arising out of the design and construction of a floating production vessel. (New York law; New York seat)
  • Multinational bank pursuing NAFTA and BIT claims against Mexico arising out of restructuring of the Mexican banking system.  We obtained a favorable settlement.
  • Brazilian state-owned electricity company in advising on claims against a Chinese company arising out of the construction and overhaul of a coal-fired power plant.
  • Multinational energy company in an ICC arbitration amongst JV partners concerning refurbishment of a major oil refinery in Mexico being overseen by the state-owned oil company.  (New York law; New York seat)


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