Chairman: Jacques el- Hakim
Managing Partner: Youssef el-Hakim
Number of partners worldwide: 3
Number of other lawyers: 7
Languages: Arabic, English, French
The firm is established by Jacques el-Hakim who, besides practicing as attorney, is a law professor (‘Agrégé’ from French Law Faculties, a qualification held by less than 10 professors in the Levant). He is author of several books on civil law, shipping law, social security, Islamic law, a four volume treaty covering all aspects of commercial law, criminal law, national income and several articles published in international law reviews, mainly on arbitration. He also participated in drafting several laws and international treaties in Syria, particularly an amendment of the Syrian Commerce and Companies Codes and the Syrian law on arbitration.
It is the oldest Syrian law firm still practicing. The firm continues to enjoy a leading position and reputation in the Syrian legal market. It is known for its academic strength combined with practical knowledge and approach. It is particularly sought after for complicated matters, matters that are new to the Syrian business market as well as for the daily business and administrative work of its clients. The firm strategy is to devote the necessary time for each client rather than focusing on expanding its client base. Its clients are mainly foreign or international companies, large Syrian companies and financial institutions as well as subsidiaries of foreign companies. Clients of other large and small firms also seek the services of the firm for matters that are new or legally complex.
As an example of its innovative projects, the firm worked on establishing two of the first three private banks in Syria after forty years of State monopoly, as well as one of the two private mobile telephone operators. It also worked on the first telecom license and the first two syndicated project finance operations in Syria (one of which was mentioned in The Economist magazine as project of the year) involving local and foreign banks and guarantors, which were the largest projects of the kind in Syria so far. Moreover, the firm advised on one of the first two public offerings (IPO) in Syria, provided detailed and innovative studies related to the Damascus stock Exchange and securities, and followed-up the biggest oil and gas investment during the 10 years preceding the unrest in Syria. It also advised on the largest real estate development project in Syria; which was halted due to the start of the unrest in Syria.
Main Areas of Practice:
-Banking, Finance & Insurance
-Commercial & Corporate
-Litigation & Arbitration
-Infrastructure, Energy & Industrial Projects
-Construction & Real Estate
The firm has long and wide ranging experience in counselling, litigating, arbitrating and advising mainly corporate clients in various fields including:
■Establishing, managing and winding up large and small projects in Syria in various fields of activity
■Commercial law (including advising and litigating in agreements concerning commercial agency, distribution franchise or manufacturing under license and investments)
■M&A including due diligence, competition and disclosure aspects under Syrian law, for projects taking place in Syria or outside Syria but involving a Syrian subsidiary of a company party to an M&A project abroad. The M&A works involved oil and gas, pharmaceutical and other industrial projects
■Litigation in commercial, civil and tax matters and with respect to the international laws affecting foreign companies with business and interests in Syria
■Arbitration (ad hoc or institutional, in disputes involving private sector parties or foreign companies) as well as publishing on arbitration matters (mainly by Jacques and Lina el-Hakim)
■Corporate law: Creating various types of Syrian companies and providing studies and services in that respect including public offerings (IPO), capital increases of publicly listed companies etc. Currently (Year 2018) working on introducing a company on the Damascus Stock Exchange, selling and winding up companies and branches of foreign companies
■Banking and finance: Incorporating one of the first two private banks in Syria and participating in the incorporation of the second one, the first representation office of a bank in Syria, the largest stock exchange brokerage and financial services in Syria, advising local banks (subsidiaries of foreign banks) and international banks with interests in Syria and following-up litigation and arbitration related thereto; advising local and international banks on project finance and syndicated loan projects, including three project finance deals in 2009 and 2010 (just before the start of the unrest in Syria) among which one of the first and most complex project finance in Syria. The firm continued working on amending existing project finance contracts throughout the period of unrest. It continued advising on and following up financial operations connected to securities, the Syrian Stock Exchange and financial market, as well as drafting model contracts for banks (mainly loans and securities). The firm is also working on setting up a project related to the newly introduced activity of electronic money transfers and banking services
■Insurance: Creating and following up the legal matters of one of the first Syrian private insurance companies and handling litigation and arbitrations on insurance matters. Providing complex studies on insurance law
■Public procurement and infrastructure assisting foreign companies in their contracts, projects and disputes with the , including construction and turnkey projects, procurement of goods and services, BOT contracts, oil and gas development contracts and related litigation and arbitration. The firm’s activity included the largest motorway and bridges project that started before the unrest in Syria, advising on various aspects during the construction phase then throughout the various arbitrations that took place during the unrest
■Oil and gas working for several foreign oil and gas companies with exploration, production activities. The work included working on the legal matters of the biggest oil and gas investment of the past 20 years from the beginning of the project until now. The firm also accompanied other oil and gas companies from the beginning of their project until the winding up or sale of their interests. It also represented several oil and gas companies in litigation and other legal matters related to their projects
■Intellectual and industrial property advising and litigating for several large multinational firms on licenses and infringement. ■Competition law: Providing advices and studies
■Telecommunications creating and following up all legal matters and litigation of one of the two private mobile phone operators in Syria (from Year 2001 onwards). Working on one of the two telecom licenses (from Year 2015 onwards) and continuing to advise the private Licensee
■Real Estate and infrastructure: Working on real estate construction and acquisition operations. Advising, in cooperation with another Syrian firm, on the largest real estate development project held by a non-Syrian company, a project that stopped with the beginning of the unrest in Syria
■Pharmaceutical: Providing studies and services to several international pharmaceutical companies including the regulations on import, distribution, manufacturing and advertising of medical and pharmaceutical products and equipment
■Transport: Working on civil aviation air plane purchase contracts, representing airline companies. Assisting the largest franchisee in Syria of an international courier and logistics company, as well as advising an international logistics company
■Industrial activity: Working on creating and licensing industrial projects
■Non-profit activities: Working for the past 15 years and up to now for a United Nations entity which is among the most involved in humanitarian and educational matters, and advising development agencies on their activities in Syria
Clients include Telecom and mobile phone operators in Syria, foreign and Syrian banks and insurance companies, major foreign oil and gas, pharmaceuticals, car companies, financial institutions, construction companies, IFC, international companies dealing with consumer products (including food and beverage, detergents, tobacco, home appliances etc.), suppliers and service providers, international franchisors and licensors of consumer and other products, tourism, transport, airlines and other companies. The firm corresponds with and continuously advises many large international firms.