Catherine Amirfar and Ina Popova Named “Litigators of the Week” for Arbitration Victory for the Republic of Iraq

26 February 2021

Debevoise & Plimpton LLP partners Catherine Amirfar and Ina Popova have been named “Litigators of the Week” by The American Lawyer. In selecting Ms. Amirfar and Ms. Popova, The American Lawyer recognized their victory in achieving total vindication for the Republic of Iraq (the Republic) in its International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) arbitration against Agility Public Warehousing Company. Litigators of the Week are “recognized for their achievements in the nation's most complex high-profile cases” and “impacting the biggest breakthrough decisions in America's courtrooms.” Debevoise’s victory for the Republic was also covered by IAReporter, Law360 and Global Arbitration Review.

The Republic retained Debevoise almost four years ago in response to claims arising from Agility’s interest in the Iraqi telecommunications company Korek Telecom. Agility, a Kuwaiti company, alleged that an order issued by the Iraqi Communications and Media Commission in 2014 and the conduct of the Iraqi courts violated the 2015 Iraq-Kuwait bilateral investment treaty and international law. This was the very first international arbitration brought against the Republic under the auspices of the 1965 ICSID Convention, and the claimant was seeking over $650 million in damages.

In 2019, the ICSID Tribunal issued its Decision on Jurisdiction dismissing the vast majority of Agility’s claims for lack of temporal jurisdiction. A week-long evidentiary hearing on the merits took place virtually in October 2020.

The ICSID Tribunal’s final award, issued on February 22, vindicated the Republic on every single legal and factual issue, block quoting passages of the Debevoise team’s cross-examinations that were decisive to its decision. The ICSID Tribunal also ordered the claimant to bear all the procedural costs and to reimburse the Republic for the full costs incurred in the merits phase of the arbitration, plus interest on those costs if not promptly paid, in light of the Republic’s complete victory.

“The American Lawyer’s recognition of Catherine and Ina, who led an all-woman team to a complete victory for our client, reflects our unsurpassed ability to prevail in complex investor-state arbitrations,” said Mary Beth Hogan, Co-Chair of Debevoise's Litigation Department. “Catherine and Ina are brilliant legal minds and strategists, trusted by our clients around the world and known for bringing a global mindset to every engagement.”

Ms. Amirfar is Co-Chair of the Public International Law Group, and both she and Ms. Popova are partners in the firm’s International Dispute Resolution Group.