Debevoise & Plimpton LLP

Public International Law Department

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What the team is known for Widely acclaimed team of public international law (PIL) experts operating a premier investor-state arbitration practice. Elicits praise for its deep experience representing both sovereign states and corporations in high-stakes treaty claims arising notably in the energy, financial services and natural resources sectors. Also highly rated for its adept handling of 'pure' PIL matters, with notable experience in state-to-state human rights claims and maritime boundary disputes. Wins further praise for its advice to governments, companies and international organisations on international environmental law, civil liberties and corporate and state responsibility.

Strengths Commentators describe the firm as "a real powerhouse" and note: "Not only do they handle a significant volume of work in this field but they are thought leaders, they can handle complex matters better than almost anyone else and they're hard to beat."

One interviewee enthused: "They provide top-notch analysis and their ability to bring in their expertise in both public and private international law is invaluable," adding: "They gave us an incredible amount of time and attention and the highest-quality legal advice."

Work highlights Successfully represented the government of Qatar before the ICJ, securing provisional measures against the United Arab Emirates for violation of the UN Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in the context of the blockade imposed upon Qatar by the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt.

Represented the Nova Group in an ICSID claim against Romania, brought under the Netherlands-Romania bilateral investment treaty (BIT) and relating to the alleged expropriation of its assets.

Advised a Pacific Island state on various issues relating to sea-level rise, including the implications under international law for loss of state territory and depopulation.

Notable practitioners

Catherine Amirfar attracts praise as a "phenomenal lawyer" and "an incredible oral advocate." Based in New York, she is highly sought after for her adept handling of big-ticket investment treaty disputes and is commendably active as PIL counsel to states on international environmental law and human rights issues.

David Rivkin is a widely acclaimed advocate with a wealth of experience in the international arbitration space. He is admired for his adept handling of high-value investment treaty mandates and offers deep expertise in construction and energy-related disputes. He divides his time between New York and London.

Donald Francis Donovan is recognised the world over as "a giant in the field of international arbitration" who can "speak on all issues surrounding investor-state disputes." He is a popular choice of counsel for sovereigns and corporations alike in high-value ICSID and UNCITRAL cases. He is based in New York.

London-based Peter Goldsmith QC is a seasoned practitioner with significant experience advising states, companies and NGOs on a wide range of international law issues, notably investment treaty arbitration and human rights. A sought-after advocate, he successfully defended Shell and its Nigerian subsidiary in a Court of Appeal claim concerning alleged liability for environmental damage following a widespread oil spill in the Niger Delta.