Client Alerts

Volterra Fietta client Nigeria defeats multi-billion dollar arbitration claim at ICSID

Volterra Fietta Client Alert
13 October 2020

Volterra Fietta has won a complete and decisive victory for its client the Federal Republic of Nigeria in a recent investment arbitration.  Nigeria faced claims from foreign oil companies for billions of dollars in compensation, in an arbitration at ICSID.  Nigeria’s legal team, in which Volterra Fietta co-counselled with Nigerian law firm Afe Babalola & Co and US law firm Rameau International Law, defeated the claims and even obtained an order that the Claimants reimburse Nigeria’s arbitration costs.


The Award in Interocean Oil Development Company and Interocean Oil Exploration Company v. Federal Republic of Nigeria (ICSID Case No. ARB/13/20) was issued on 6 October 2020.  In it, the Arbitral Tribunal rejected the entirety of the Claimants’ claims on the merits and awarded Nigeria its arbitration costs.


The case involved a series of ground-breaking legal issues.  These included the jurisdictional and substantive scope of the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission Act (the “NIPC Act”), the scope of the public international law of attribution, concepts of judicial expropriation and denial of justice, and complex quantum questions.


The Claimants were two oil companies incorporated in Delaware.  In 2013, they brought an ICSID claim against Nigeria under the NIPC Act.  The Claimants alleged that Nigeria had conspired with a private individual to deprive them of their investments in the Nigerian oil industry.  They also claimed that Nigeria had engaged in multiple violations of customary international law.  The Claimants claimed close to USD3 billion in damages, including interest.


The Tribunal’s key findings on the merits confirmed that none of the main actions complained of by the Claimants were attributable to Nigeria.  The Tribunal also confirmed that the Claimants manifestly failed to prove any conspiracy involving Nigeria. The Tribunal’s findings establish that neither the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation nor Nigeria breached any of its duties towards the Claimants.  Critically, the Award confirmed that the relevant decisions of Nigeria’s courts did not constitute a judicial expropriation or created any type of liability for Nigeria.


Álvaro Nistal, counsel at Volterra Fietta and leading the firm’s work on the case, said: “It is a pleasure to have contributed to our client’s complete and decisive first-ever victory at ICSID.  Great teamwork with our co-counsel Afe Babalola & Co and Rameau International Law enabled Nigeria to confront the Claimants’ constantly shifting legal theories and ensure that evidence won the day over conjecture.”


For further information, please contact:

Robert Volterra (

Álvaro Nistal (