Debevoise Again Prevails in ICSID Arbitration Concerning Albania’s Actions Against Independent Television Station

29 June 2019
Victory is a rebuttal of Albania’s attempt to silence the media through baseless criminal charges

In a unanimous decision issued on April 24, 2019, in an arbitration being heard before International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (“ICSID”), the three-member arbitral tribunal ordered the government of Albania to compensate Debevoise clients Francesco Becchetti, Mauro De Renzis, as well as other partners and two companies they operate, Hydro srl and Construzioni srl (the “Claimants”), €110 million for expropriating their investment in Agonchannel, created by Mr. Becchetti as the first delocalized television station in Europe.

The tribunal also ordered Albania to pay €30 million damages to a business partner of Mr. Becchetti.

The decision follows the initial ordering of provisional measures by the tribunal in 2016, and represents the final chapter in ICSID Case No. ARB/15/28, HydroSrl, Costruzioni Srl, Francesco Becchetti, Mauro de Renzis, Stefania Grigolon and Liliana Condomitti vs. Albania.

This matter was initially filed by the Claimants in 2015 related to attacks and harassment by the Albanian government in response to unfavorable media coverage by Agonchannel. Agonchannel ceased broadcasting in late 2015 due to the government’s actions.

Albania had issued arrest warrants against Mr. Becchetti and Mr. De Renzis (the administrator of Agonchannel) and sought to obtain their extradition from the United Kingdom. In March of 2016, Debevoise prevailed in an ICSID Tribunal decision to suspend extradition proceedings and local criminal proceedings of Mr. Bechetti and Mr. De Renzis, one of the few such decisions made by the tribunal.

The Debevoise team was led by partners David W. Rivkin, Catherine Amirfar, Christopher Tahbaz, and Ina Popova. Serving as co-counsel in the case were Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, led by partner Philippe Pinsolle, French firm Scemla Loizon Veverka & de Fontmichel, and a team led by Andrea Saccucci at Italian firm Studio Saccucci Fares & Partners.

Debevoise’s International Dispute Resolution Group advises on the most complex international disputes for leading multinationals, international organizations, sovereigns and non-governmental organizations in commercial, investment treaty and public international law disputes. Spanning Debevoise’s New York, London, Paris, Moscow and Hong Kong offices, the practice’s lawyers are fluent in more than 30 languages and trained and qualified under a host of common law and civil law systems.

Debevoise & Plimpton LLP is a premier law firm with market-leading practices, a global perspective and strong New York roots. We deliver effective solutions to our clients’ most important legal challenges, applying clear commercial judgment and a distinctively collaborative approach.

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