CC fights court decision for Czech government

The government of the Czech Republic has instructed Clifford Chance to appeal against a decision by the Stockholm Arbitration Court, which finance minister Jiri Rusnok described as “flawed and insufficient”.
In September, the Stockholm court ruled on a case brought by media conglomerate CME against the Czech government. CME said the Czech government failed to properly protect the company’s investment in TV Nova, as it is required to do by international law. The government could now be forced to pay damages of up to $500m (£350.1m).
CME owner Ronald Lauder brought a parallel case for damages in the London Arbitration Court, which ruled that the Czech government was not liable.
Clifford Chance’s Prague office was instructed on both arbitrations by the Czech government, while Debevoise & Plimpton‘s New York office handled the work for both CME and Lauder, led by John Kiernan. Jeremy Carver, head of the international law group, and Audley Sheppard, head of the arbitration group, handled most of Clifford Chance’s work through the London office.
Carver calls the Stockholm court’s decision “controversial”, particularly in the wake of the London court’s decision. The Czech member of the three-person Stockholm arbitration panel has since resigned in outrage at the decision.
Clifford Chance has now been instructed by the Czech government to handle an appeal on procedural grounds, which will be heard before the Swedish courts.
The firm has just appointed leading Swedish firm Mannheimer Swartling to handle the domestic Swedish elements of the case. Although no appeal to the tribunal itself is possible, the panel may still have to decide the issue of compensation.
Debevoise & Plimpton is pressing for damages to be paid before the appeal to the Swedish courts is decided.
UK lawyer Ian Brownlie, a Clifford Chance recommendation, has now filled the space left on the panel by the Czech government’s last arbiter. Brownlie, a former professor of international law at Oxford, appeared for the Serbs before the International Court of Justice in 1999, when he argued that the Nato bombing was illegal.
Clifford Chance may get some kudos from working for the Czech government, but the firm is certainly coming off second best in terms of fees. When the cost figures were disclosed at the hearing, Debevoise & Plimpton was revealed to be billing its clients three times as much as the UK firm.