Clifford Chance scores £10bn for oil company

Clifford Chance has successfully steered its client towards a $14.75bn (£10bn) United Nations Compensation Commission (UNCC) award, the largest ever payment of its kind.

The firm is acting for the Kuwait Petroleum Corporation (KPC), which was awarded the money for the loss of just over two years worth of oil production due to the 1990 Iraqi invasion.

The UNCC was set up after the 1990-1991 Gulf War. Iraq has been paying 30 per cent of the money it makes from oil production into the fund since its inception.

Clifford Chance has acted for the Kuwait government for nearly three decades. It was retained to advise KPC on its compensation claims just after Iraq’s occupation of Kuwait came to an end.

The three-strong team was led by head of the international law group Jeremy Carver, who says the win was unprecedented. “The UN can be very proud of developing such a powerful means of delivering justice,” he says. “The claims were always good, but it’s still remarkable for an experienced international panel to award 99 per cent of any claim, let alone one of this size.”

Few firms are capable of doing this type of work, which can involve periods of very little activity while the UNCC considers the claim, followed by bouts of frenetic activity when tight deadlines are imposed.

But Clifford Chance has charged consistent fees throughout the nine-year period for both the quiet and the busy times.

Other firms working on compensation claims coming before the UNCC include Jones Day Reavis & Pogue, although so far without the same levels of success. Iraq was represented by its own governmental lawyers.