Norton Rose Fulbright

Washington DC

For nearly 90 years, our Washington, DC office has handled many matters of national and international scale, and it remains a hub for handling global regulatory matters. Among the major practices here are civil and appellate litigation at all levels, including the US Supreme Court; commodities and derivatives counselling and enforcement; government and internal investigations; and healthcare. Our DC office also serves clients seeking legal advice on matters including corporate and M&A, lobbying, tax, insurance and reinsurance, environmental law and telecommunications, media and technology. We have a strong international trade practice, as well as significant experience in projects and project finance, advising clients in the US and globally on projects ranging from power plants, telecommunications and mining to water and all forms of transport. Many of our lawyers have previously worked for major federal agencies.

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Updates

Arbitration & ADR

Monster Energy distribution dispute: amicus briefs do not create evident partiality
USA | 01 April 2021

In a six-year dispute between Monster Energy Co and City Beverages, LLC d/b/a Olympic Eagles Distributing (Olympic), a judge sitting in the Central District of California has denied Olympic's motion to compel arbitration in a forum other than the Judicial Arbitration and Mediation Services (JAMS), finding that the JAMS' filing of two amicus briefs did not create reasonable doubt as to its partiality.

LCIA Rules 2020: key changes
International | 25 February 2021

The new London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA) Rules 2020 came into force on 1 October 2020 and apply to all LCIA arbitrations commencing from that date onwards. The amendments are an attempt to streamline and modernise the LCIA rules. This article discusses the key changes introduced by the new rules and their likely impact on parties.

Proving corruption allegations – return to balance of probabilities standard?
International | 11 February 2021

Corruption allegations have blossomed as an area of interest in international arbitration. Numerous published awards show that states are increasingly relying on allegations of corruption to defend treaty and commercial claims. Despite this trend, no established approach exists for the standard of proof that applies to such allegations. However, recent awards show that the standard of proof applicable in arbitration should be no higher than the standard required in other civil cases.

Recent joint venture dispute trends in mining sector
International | 04 February 2021

This article considers the duties, both express and implied, which joint venture partners may be under when dealing with each other. Can a party simply look out for itself or must it consider its partners' interests when conducting joint venture business? How do arbitrators approach these questions?

Disruptive technologies in mining industry: opportunities, risk mitigation and resolving disputes
International | 21 January 2021

Technological innovation continues to disrupt the status quo in established industries. While new technologies offer many opportunities within the mining industry, the corresponding risks and potential disputes are not far off. Parties must ensure that they incorporate appropriate contractual protections but also effective and enforceable mechanisms for enforcing their contracts and resolving disputes. A robust and broad arbitration agreement remains one important part of risk mitigation.

Mining arbitration: recent dispute trends
Africa | 14 January 2021

Africa's economic growth has historically been linked to the fluctuation of commodity prices and it supplies significant amounts of minerals in global demand. Against this background, some states and state-owned counterparts of mining investors in Africa have taken a series of measures perceived by investors as an attempt to force them to renegotiate their long-term agreements. This has led to an increase in disputes concerning legislative changes, joint venture agreements and environmental issues.

Streaming finance agreements: a dispute resolution perspective
International | 07 January 2021

Streaming agreements are increasingly relied on by mining companies as a primary source of financing. As always, in parallel with the increase in popularity of particular transactions, there has been a corresponding increase in disputes between counterparties. This article explores the nature of streaming agreements, the types of dispute that can arise and how contracting parties can take steps at the outset to put themselves in the best position to mitigate disputes risk.

Overview of dispute trends in mining and metals sector: volatility as the new normal
International | 17 December 2020

Considerations of agility, resilience and risk mitigation must feature high on every corporate agenda. This article examines the areas that must be considered when it comes to disputes risk mitigation in the mining sector, including identifying the potential origins of disputes, enforcement of international arbitral awards, contractual disputes and disputes with states or state-owned entities.

Climate change and sustainability: lessons learned from COVID-19 and resolving disputes by arbitration
International | 01 October 2020

Prior to COVID-19, few people would have found an obvious practical connection between a pandemic and climate change. But, with hindsight, the connections are manifold. As discussed in this article, some of these are obvious and some are subtle, while others are still playing out. However, what is becoming clear is that climate change-related disputes are unlikely to abate in the wake of the pandemic.

Arbitrating disputes in pharmaceutical, life sciences and healthcare sector during COVID-19 pandemic
International | 24 September 2020

COVID-19 is putting tremendous strain on the life sciences and healthcare sector. Disputes may be more disruptive than usual during this time, not least because they put further pressure on often already limited financial and managerial resources. Therefore, many parties are seeking alternative ways to avoid disputes. However, some disputes are inevitable and a number are likely to be resolved through international arbitration.

COVID-19: preliminary arbitration trends in transport sector
International | 17 September 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has severely curtailed court access in many jurisdictions. By virtue of its flexibility, arbitration has been offered up as a solution to commercial parties which nevertheless wish to progress the resolution of their dispute. Both institutional and ad hoc arbitrations have been accommodating in terms of virtual hearings and electronic documentation.

Doing business (but not business as usual) during COVID-19 pandemic
International | 10 September 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic presents unique challenges to businesses globally. Amid the uncertainty and disruptions to all aspects of life and commerce, many companies are facing disputes with their counterparties. Claims can be preserved in many instances – even strengthened – by carefully considered but simple steps taken now. Companies should settle on an appropriate strategy, tailored to their business and jurisdiction, sooner rather than later.

Investor-state claims in era of COVID-19 pandemic
International | 03 September 2020

States have taken urgent and extraordinary steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and address the public health and economic crises that it has caused. Some such measures are aimed directly at the need to treat those affected by the virus, while others aim to address the virus's unprecedented economic impact on the world economy. Inevitably, some of these measures will affect foreign investors and their investments in host states, triggering investor-state disputes.

Spotlight on investor-state arbitration and insolvency
International | 27 August 2020

Where insolvency involves cross-border investments, foreign investors may have additional rights under international investment treaties or agreements (IIAs). IIAs are agreements between states in which the state receiving investment from an investor from the other state commits to provide certain levels of protection to those foreign investors in respect of their investment. Foreign investors often have a direct right under an IIA to commence proceedings against the host state for a breach of such commitments.

Disputes funding in COVID-19 environment
International | 20 August 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic is forcing businesses of all shapes and sizes to pursue alternate sources of funding to ensure the advancement of pending claims, bring new claims arising out of the pandemic and enhance cash flow where possible to survive. Understanding the range of dispute funding options available is critical to assess whether and, if so, how such funding can be leveraged to help a business weather the current COVID-19 environment and what is yet to come.

Institutional responses to COVID-19 pandemic: cooperation, collaboration and going virtual
International | 13 August 2020

For a cross-border system of dispute resolution that frequently involves participants from different countries, the challenge posed by COVID-19 is acute. However, given that arbitration is a flexible and consensual process, it is well positioned to respond swiftly to these challenges. In a short time, the international arbitration community – led by the major arbitral institutions – has collaborated to find ways to maintain access to justice in a timely and efficient manner.

Doing justice in the face of a global pandemic
International | 06 August 2020

The resilience and innovation shown by the international arbitration community in recent months should be applauded. In the face of significant adversity, new and improved ways to resolve disputes and maintain access to efficient and effective justice have emerged. Notwithstanding the terrible circumstances that provided the impetus, recent months have disrupted the status quo and challenged normative beliefs around how disputes can and should be resolved.

New York Convention does not prohibit enforcement by non-signatory under doctrine of equitable estoppel
USA | 11 June 2020

The US Supreme Court has unanimously held that the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards does not prohibit US courts from applying the domestic law doctrine of equitable estoppel when determining whether an international arbitration clause can be enforced by a non-signatory to compel arbitration. In doing so, the court effectively extended the holding in Arthur Andersen LLP to international arbitrations under Chapter 2 of the Federal Arbitration Act.

COVID-19: AAA-ICDR's approach to arbitration
USA | 07 May 2020

Existing dispute resolution proceedings are inevitably experiencing the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak. Where possible, hearings have been delayed or relocated. However, with many lockdowns extended for the foreseeable future, some hearings will still need to be held. Notably, the American Arbitration Association acknowledges that these are appropriate times to permit (and indeed require) the use of viable alternatives to in-person hearings.

Data protection and cyber-risk issues in arbitration: regulation, cyberattacks and hacked evidence
International | 17 October 2019

Data protection and cybersecurity are hot topics in international arbitration and international surveys demonstrate that users of arbitration are concerned about data security. While there are signs that the market is listening, users seem to think that institutions, counsel and tribunals could do more to address cybersecurity. As these issues become more common, it is hoped that consistent practices will emerge to reassure users that their data will be secure.

Singapore Convention: update on enforcing mediated settlement agreements
International | 10 October 2019

The United Nations Convention on International Settlement Agreements Resulting from Mediation (Singapore Convention) has been signed by 46 states and will come into force six months after being ratified by at least three state parties. The convention responds to the demand from a growing body of mediation users for an enforcement mechanism applicable to mediated settlement agreements in cross-border disputes. However, its language has created some uncertainties.

Recent developments in ISDS reform: the big picture
International | 03 October 2019

Investor-state dispute settlement is an important feature of investment treaties as it is the procedural mechanism through which investors can claim compensation for a violation of a substantive investor-protection standard. The traditional mechanism (ie, investment arbitration between the investor and the host state, modelled on commercial arbitration) has been increasingly criticised. Hostility to the traditional model has led to changes in individual treaties and wider reform initiatives.

Arbitrating M&A disputes: changes in arbitration landscape and the impact of technology
International | 26 September 2019

M&A lawyers mitigate buyer risk through expansive due diligence exercises and tight contractual controls. Arbitration has become a prominent forum for resolving these disputes. For example, the London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA) has reported a significant increase in the number of shareholder, share purchase and joint venture agreements being referred to LCIA arbitration. This article examines the growth of arbitration as a forum for resolving such disputes.

ICC construction industry arbitration report
International | 20 June 2019

The International Chamber of Commerce Commission recently published an update to its report on construction industry arbitration, focusing on recommended tools and techniques for effective management. The report is a helpful reminder for practitioners and arbitrators of the procedural mechanisms available which are particularly relevant to the conduct of arbitration in the construction sector.

New York Appellate Division confirms narrow scope of manifest disregard doctrine
USA | 30 May 2019

The New York Appellate Division has reaffirmed that the manifest disregard doctrine is a "severely limited… doctrine of last resort" that requires more than a mere error of law to warrant vacating an arbitral award. This case involved the acquisition contracts between Daesang and NutraSweet, under which NutraSweet could rescind the deal if it was sued for antitrust law violations. After NutraSweet exercised this right, Daesang commenced an arbitration proceeding for breach of contract.

Disclosure in international arbitration: using US courts to obtain discovery for non-US proceedings
USA | 23 May 2019

Unbeknown to many, Section 1782 of Title 28 of the US Code permits parties to obtain discovery in the United States in aid of non-US legal proceedings, including – in some instances – international arbitrations. Such discovery can include documents and sworn testimony (eg, depositions). In conducting an arbitration seated outside the United States (or other non-US legal proceedings), it is useful to understand the mechanics, requirements and key issues of Section 1782 discovery.

California loosens restrictions on counsel in international arbitrations
USA | 23 August 2018

California Governor Jerry Brown recently signed into law Senate Bill (SB) 766, Representation by Foreign and Out-of-State Attorneys. The bill, which was passed 69-to-zero by the legislature, clarifies that foreign (ie, not licensed in the United States) and out-of-state (ie, licensed in a US jurisdiction, but not in California) attorneys can represent parties in international arbitrations in California, subject to certain conditions. SB 766 will take effect on 1 January 2019.

Litigation

COVID-19: approach to court proceedings
USA | 12 May 2020

Existing proceedings in the national courts are inevitably experiencing the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak. Where possible, hearings have been delayed or relocated. However, with many lockdowns extended for the foreseeable future, hearings will still need to be held. As such, many national courts are looking into solutions to these issues, particularly technological ones.