Debevoise, Herbies and Stibbe finalise epic Malaysian-Ghanian telecoms fight

Debevoise & Plimpton, Herbert Smith and Stibbe have closed a two and a half-year international dispute with an agreement that is expected to improve relations between Ghana and Malaysia.

International arbitration proceedings against Ghana’s government were commenced by Herbert Smith client Telekom Malaysia in September 2002. The dispute concerned the company’s investment in Ghana Telecom, and the case was brought under Malaysia’s Bilateral Investment Treaties (BIT) with Ghana.

Herbert Smith best friend Stibbe came on board when the government of Ghana objected to the appointment of Shearman & Sterling Paris partner Emmanuel Gaillard as one of the three arbitrators. Ghana, represented by Debevoise, said Gaillard could not be impartial because he was acting as counsel on a similar dispute. The issue was heard in the Dutch District Court, following which Gaillard resigned from the other dispute.

On its conclusion last month, Ghanian president John Kuffour said the settlement paved the way for improved relations between Ghana and Malaysia.

Paula Hodges, a partner in Herbert Smith’s London international arbitration group, led the arbitration for Telekom Malaysia alongside Stibbe partner Jeroen Flem-ing, with Larry Adjetey, senior partner at Ghanian firm Law Trust Company, advising on Ghanian law. Debevoise London partner Arthur Marriott QC acted for Ghana.