News In Brief – Winter 2014

Pacific Rubiales studies claim under the Canada-Colombia FTA as Colombian State-owned Ecopetrol prevails in arbitration proceedings
On 13 March 2013, an arbitral tribunal constituted under the aegis of the Arbitration and Conciliation Center of the Chamber of Commerce of Bogotá rendered its award on a dispute between Colombian State-owned Ecopetrol S.A. (“Ecopetrol“) and Meta Petroleum Corp. Sucursal Colombia (“Meta Petroleum“), a subsidiary of the Canadian company Pacific Rubiales Corporation (“Pacific Rubiales“).

The dispute concerns a “high-prices clause” in a contract for the exploitation of the Quifa oil field in central Colombia (the “Clause“). The Clause requires Meta Petroleum to deliver an additional portion of crude to Ecopetrol if oil exceeds a certain price per barrel and the Quifa oil field produces more than five million barrels. By April 2011, both conditions had been met. However, the parties to the arbitration disagreed as to the interpretation of the Clause. Meta Petroleum subsequently submitted the dispute to arbitration, arguing that the formula in the Clause should only take into account 60% of total production, being Meta Petroleum’s share in the project. The tribunal, however, agreed with Ecopetrol that the formula applied to the oil field’s total production. The award could result in several billion US dollars of additional revenue for Ecopetrol.

Following the award, Pacific Rubiales noted that it was evaluating “alternative remedies under Colombian laws and applicable international treaties”, which included a claim under the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement (the “FTA“). In April 2013, Meta Petroleum filed an application for annulment of the award with Colombia’s supreme judicial body for administrative matters. It remains to be seen whether Pacific Rubiales will resort to the FTA if this application is rejected. Doing so would seem unlikely to succeed, given that none of the FTA’s substantive provisions allowing an investor to resort to international arbitration appear to apply to the facts underlying the present contractual dispute.

The Kuala Lumpur Regional Centre for Arbitration launches revised rules
In October 2013, the Kuala Lumpur Regional Centre for Arbitration (“KLRCA“) unveiled the latest revision to its arbitration rules, Islamic arbitration rules and fast track arbitration rules. The KLRCA has also revised its mediation rules.

The revised rules have been implemented in the wake of Malaysia’s Legal Profession (Amendment) Act 2013, which exempts foreign arbitrators and arbitration counsel from prohibitions that had previously: (i) prevented them from staying in Malaysia longer than 60 days; and (ii) required them to obtain immigration approval to enter Malaysia for arbitration proceedings.

The revised rules also reflect other international trends, including allowing for the appointment of emergency arbitrators, the granting of pre-award interest and the consolidation of proceedings.

Firm News

The firm is pleased to announce that Zuzana MorhacovaJessica Pineda and Amir Matar joined the firm as associates on 1 August 2013, 25 November 2013 and 20 January 2014 respectively.

On 8 November 2013, Robert Volterra spoke at Cambridge University’s Lauterpacht Centre for International Law on ‘Facts, Evidence and Causation: Practice of the ICJ’. An audio file of the lecture can be accessed here.

On 29 August 2013, Stephen Fietta presented a paper at the International Law Association Regional Conference in Athens, Greece about international investment arbitration in the energy sector.

Volterra Fietta retained its top tier ranking in public international law in the latest editions of both Chambers & Partners and the Legal 500 UK directory rankings.

The Legal 500 named Volterra Fietta to its list of “highly commended” dispute resolution specialist firms in the Legal 500 UK Awards 2013. Volterra Fietta is the only public international law specialist firm to make the highly commended list.

Global Law Experts named Volterra Fietta “Public Law – Law Firm of the Year in England” in its 2013 International Awards.

DealMakers Monthly magazine named Volterra Fietta in its DealMakers 2013 Global Awards as International Dispute Resolution Law Firm of the Year.

Volterra Fietta won the Lawyer Monthly Legal Award 2013 award for the UK Commercial Arbitration Law Firm of the Year. Robert Volterra won the award for the UK Commercial Arbitration Lawyer of the Year.