John Adam is a partner in the International Dispute Resolution (IDR) Practice Group. John’s practice focuses exclusively on international arbitration. John has acted as counsel in more than 75 international arbitrations, and is widely considered by his peers and specialised publications to be one of the leading lawyers of his generation in the Latin American region and beyond.

    John is dually trained and completely bicultural across the common-civil law divide (being qualified as an English barrister and a Spanish abogado). Besides speaking English and Spanish as mother tongues, he is fluent in French and Portuguese, and regularly works in all four languages.

    John’s practice is split evenly between commercial and investment arbitration. He has a solid cross-disciplinary practice and has acted as an advocate representing companies and states in numerous commercial and investment treaty arbitrations, including in matters involving construction, energy, oil and gas, mining (and, more generally, extractive sectors), business combinations and taxation.

    John’s recent high-profile successes include securing a near-total victory against Spain in Novenergia II – Energy & Environment (SCA) SICAR v. Kingdom of Spain (SCC Case 063/2015), in a case regarding Spain’s changes to the renewable energy sector. Novenergia is the only Spanish renewables case to date in which the investor has recovered nearly all damages claimed. John also helped RECOPE, the Costa Rican state-owned refining company, secure a favourable award in a politically sensitive ICC arbitration against CNPCI regarding a joint venture for the modernisation of the only refinery in Costa Rica.

    In the investor-state and ICSID field, John has acted as counsel for Colombia, Ecuador, the Dominican Republic and Venezuela. John has also acted for investors against the Kingdom of Spain, Argentina and Poland.

    In the construction field, John has acted for owners and contractors in relation to a wide array of structures, including airports, port facilities, roads, refineries, FPSOs, CSP plants, PV plants, hydroelectric plants, wind farms, nuclear facilities, combined-cycle plants and industrial process plants. He has successfully dealt with the entire gamut of claims (for example, delay and disruption, loss of productivity, defects, variations and quantification of damages).

    John also regularly represents household names in the energy sector in disputes typically involving industry-specific contractual instruments, such as JOAs, UOAs and PSAs.

    John’s experience also spans international arbitrations in other sectors, such as intellectual property, pharma, automotive, defence, agency and business combinations (joint venture and M&A disputes).

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    Investment Arbitration

    • Representing the investors in four cases under the ECT against the Kingdom of Spain concerning Spain’s modification of its renewable energy framework and reversal of the tariff regime applicable to certain photovoltaic plants:
      • Novenergia II – Energy & Environment (SCA) SICAR v. Kingdom of Spain (SCC Case 063/2015)
      • Charanne BV and Construction Investments SARL v. Kingdom of Spain (SCC Case 062/2012)
      • Isolux Infrastructure Netherlands BV v. Kingdom of Spain (SCC Consolidated Cases 153/2013 and 074/2014)
    • Representing SAUR International, in SAUR International v. Argentine Republic (ICSID Case No. ARB/04/4), in claims brought under the France-Argentina BIT regarding water concessions in the Province of Mendoza. The tribunal awarded SAUR a full victory, including an award on costs, valued in excess of US$60 million.
    • Representing Mercuria Energy Group Ltd., a Cypriot energy company, as claimant in an ECT arbitration under the SCC Rules against the Republic of Poland. The dispute arose out of the Polish Authorities’ conduct in relation to the investment company’s alleged failure to maintain mandatory reserves of refined products, and related breaches of the fair and equitable treatment standard.
    • Representing the Republic of Colombia in a trilogy of arbitrations brought by Canadian mining investors under Chapter 8 of the Canada-Colombia FTA, regarding measures introduced by Colombia for the protection of high-altitude ecosystems known as páramos (moorlands). The measures introduced by Colombia are intended to ban or restrict, among others, mining activities in páramo areas:
      • Eco Oro Minerals Corp. v. Republic of Colombia (ICSID Case No. ARB/16/41)
      • Red Eagle Exploration Limited v. Republic of Colombia (ICSID Case No. ARB/18/12)
      • Galway Gold Inc. v. Republic of Colombia (ICSID Case No. ARB/18/13)
    • Representing the Republic of Colombia in Gran Colombia Gold Corp. v. Republic of Colombia (ICSID Case No. ARB/18/23), an arbitration brought by a Canadian mining investor under Chapter 8 of the Canada-Colombia FTA, asserting breach of the FPS standard with respect to Colombia’s alleged failure to evict illegal miners from its mining concessions.
    • Representing the Republic of Colombia in South32 SA Investments Limited v. Republic of Colombia (ICSID Case No. ARB/20/9), an arbitration brought by a UK mining investor under the UK-Colombia BIT, asserting breach of FET for Colombia’s alleged modification of a nickel royalties regime.
    • Representing the Republic of Ecuador in Oleoducto de Crudos Pesados (OCP) Ecuador S.A. et al v. Republic of Ecuador (PCA Case No. 2018-36), in a claim brought by Ecuadorian and Cayman entities engaged in the mid-stream oil and gas sector, regarding alleged tax stabilisation undertakings, denial of justice and potential expropriation in the context of the construction and operation of an oil pipeline in Ecuador.

    Commercial Arbitration

    • Representing a NOC in two LCIA arbitrations involving claims under an AIPN-based agreement regarding, respectively, an incident in an FPSO and an aborted offshore well workover operation.
    • Representing a NOC in an ICC arbitration concerning a Joint Operating Agreement for a hydrocarbons block in Latin America, turning on the non-operator’s failure to pay cash calls.
    • Representing a NOC in an ICC arbitration concerning the acquisition of interests in oil and gas blocks and related to the performance of earn-out provisions in a share purchase agreement.
    • Representing a US pharma giant in a post-M&A ICC arbitration regarding the sale of a pharmaceutical company in Latin America.
    • Representing a Latin American industrial conglomerate in an ICC arbitration regarding the termination of an agency agreement for the sale of cars.
    • Representing the affiliates of a major European engineering services and construction management company in an ICC arbitration concerning an EPCM contract regarding the construction of a refinery in Europe.
    • Representing a French company in an ICC arbitration regarding the acquisition of a winery in Canada.
    • Representing RECOPE (the Costa Rican state-owned refining company) in an ICC arbitration against CNPCI, regarding a joint venture for the refurbishment of the only refinery in Costa Rica.
    • Representing a European contractor in an ICC arbitration regarding the supply of equipment for a pipeline in North Africa.
    • Representing a North American company in the defence industry in an arbitration conducted in Portuguese under the aegis of Lisbon Commercial Association/Arbitration Centre of the Portuguese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, against the Republic of Portugal, concerning the termination of a series of contracts related to the supply of armoured wheeled vehicles.
    • Representing a consortium of European mechanical equipment suppliers in a US$1 billion ICC arbitration conducted in Portuguese regarding the construction of a state-of-the-art hydroelectric facility in Brazil.
    • Representing a European consortium in an ICC arbitration concerning the construction of a port terminal.
    • Representing a Spanish engineering services company and its Latin American subsidiary as respondents in a multiparty complex dispute concerning a turnkey contract for the construction of a combined-cycle power plant.
    • Representing a European contractor in an ICC arbitration regarding the construction of a chemical industrial facility in a Latin American country.
    • Representing the world’s largest manufacturer of wind turbines in three ICC arbitrations concerning the construction of substantial wind farms in Latin America.
    • Representing a Spanish construction company and Spanish equipment supplier in an ICC arbitration concerning the construction of a wind farm in Costa Rica.
    • Representing a Costa Rican company in an ICC arbitration regarding the construction of a hydroelectric plant in Panama.
    • Representing a major Spanish construction company in an ICC arbitration regarding the construction of a hydroelectric plant in Costa Rica.

    Experience as Arbitrator

    • Sitting as sole arbitrator in an ICC arbitration regarding an agency contract for the sale of vehicles in an African country (seat of arbitration: London; language of arbitration: English).
    • Sitting as sole arbitrator in a dispute relating the termination of a hospitality services contract (seat of arbitration: Madrid; applicable law: Spanish; language of arbitration: Spanish).

    Education

    • Inns of Court School of Law, London, Bar Vocational Course, 2001
    • University of Sevilla, Licenciado en Derecho (J.D. equivalent, Law), 2000
    • King's College, London, LL.B., 1998

    Admissions

    • Paris (Registered European Lawyer), 2014
    • Spain (Abogado), 2004
    • England and Wales (barrister), 2001

    Languages

    • English
    • Spanish
    • French
    • Portuguese
    • Who’s Who Legal – Arbitration 2019: Future Leaders, describes John as “a true class act” who stands out as “one of the brightest and most hard-working lawyers in the field”. One source notes, “[h]e is among the sharpest and most technically proficient lawyers I have ever had the opportunity to work with.”
    • John has been recognised as a Next Generation Partner by The Legal 500 Latin America 2019-2021 and The Legal 500 France (2021).
    • John is also ranked in Chambers Latin America 2021. According to Chambers, he is “well regarded for his ability to handle significant investment treaty and commercial arbitration claims across Latin America. Praising his methodical and attentive approach, one observer remarks: ‘He is fully bilingual, was fully invested and was so prepared and meticulous in his work.’”
    • The Legal 500 describes John as a “remarkable” professional “with vast arbitration knowledge”.
    • According to Chambers Latin America 2019, John is “active advising on notable investor-state and commercial arbitration matters throughout the region. One pleased interviewee states: ‘I really like John, he's a great lawyer,’ with another describing him as ‘very dedicated and accessible’.”
    • According to Chambers Latin America 2018, “John Adam has a solid practice advising on investment arbitration, particularly related to the construction sector, as well as the conventional and renewable energy industries. Sources describe him as ‘brilliant’, and ‘a very complete lawyer’.”
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