Squire Patton Boggs has achieved a complete victory for long-standing client the Republic of Kosovo in an arbitration under the rules of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC). The dispute, Bedri Selmani v Republic of Kosovo, concerned the alleged expropriation of Kosovo’s largest network of petrol stations with claims quantified in excess of €45 million before interest.
The Squire Patton Boggs team was led by Luka Misetic (New York), Rostislav Pekař (Prague), and Mark Stadnyk (Houston), as well as Matej Pustay, Fellenza Limani, Helena Čech and Mailis Meier-Lutterodt (all Prague) and Jakub Kamenický (Bratislava).
The arbitration, which was brought under Kosovo’s Law on Foreign Investment, raised important and novel questions of public international law. These included the liability of newly-independent states for actions or omissions of international organizations operating within their territory prior to independence. In this case, the fundamental question was the Republic of Kosovo’s liability for actions and omissions of the United Nations and NATO peacekeeping forces, the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) and the Kosovo Force (KFOR), respectively. UNMIK had exercised certain legislative, executive, and judicial functions prior to the establishment of Kosovar institutions and Kosovo’s independence, including the issuance of its own foreign investment law.
The Tribunal issued a unanimous Award granting many of Kosovo’s jurisdictional objections, and denying the rest on the merits. The Tribunal also awarded 75% of Kosovo’s costs, finding that “Kosovo is the clear prevailing party”. At an earlier juncture, the Tribunal had also agreed to bifurcate the proceedings after Kosovo’s motion.
“We are delighted to have obtained this precedent-setting victory for Kosovo,” commented Mr. Misetic.
“On the fundamental international law question, the Tribunal issued a bright-line ruling that with respect to the investment in question: ‘the Republic of Kosovo did not agree to assume responsibility following its independence for prior conduct by UNMIK.’”
Squire Patton Boggs is representing the Republic of Kosovo in five international arbitrations. This is the second to have reached a final award. The first, ACP Axos v Republic of Kosovo, also resulted in a complete victory for Kosovo in defeating a €380 million claim. The remaining three arbitrations are pending.