Reed Smith defeats Allen & Overy $3bn Kazakhstan arbitrations

Reed Smith has defeated Allen & Overy (A&O) and Stephenson Harwood in two separate arbitrations totaling $3bn (£1.9bn) against the Republic of Kazakhstan (RoK).

Reed Smith partner Belinda Paisley instructed 3 Verulam Buildings’ Ali Malek QC and Essex Court Chambers’ Toby Landau QC to defend the case before the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID).

Reed Smith defeated the two claims, the first of which came KT Asia Investment Group BV and the second from energy giant AES Corporate.

KT Asia Investment Group, which is owned by exiled Kazakh businessman Mukhtar Ablyazov, turned to Matrix barrister Zachary Douglas to bring the case.

Ablyazov is wanted by a number of CIS countries on charges of fraud and corruption. In the UK he is being sued by the Kazakh government (11 December 2012).

The ICSID threw out claims from KT Asia Investment Group, stating that it did not have jurisdiction to hear the dispute as the claimant did not hold “an investment” under the ICSID Convention and the relevant Bilateral Investment Treaty.

Reed Smith also defended the RoK against a US$1.29 bn claim from energy giant AES’ over alleged breached of agreements between the RoK and America and the RoK’s Energy Charter Treaty.

The company launched multiple claims, the majority of which were thrown out by the Tribunal.

Allen & Overy lawyer Judith Gill and partners Mark Levy and Jeffrey Sullivan lost the fight against Essex Court Chambers’ Joe Smouha QC. The Tribunal threw out the majority of AES’ claims, awarded no damages and ordered it to pay a contribution towards costs of the arbitration.

The legal line up

KT Asia

For the defendant RoK

Reed Smith partner Belinda Paisley, of counsel Chloe Carswell and Dinara Jarmukhanova, associates Dina Nazargalina, Ellie Chapman and Suzie Savage; and paralegal Dana Kuzutbayeva.

Essex Court Chambers’ Toby Laundau QC and 3 Verulam Buildings’ Ali Malek QC and Christopher Harris 

For the claimant KT Asia

Stephenson Harwood Louis Flannery, later replaced by Addleshaw Goddard partner Richard Leedham; Matrix Chambers’ Zachary Douglas


For the defendant RoK

Essex Court Chambers’ Joe Smouha QC and Thirteen Old Square Chambers’ Simon Olleson instructed by Reed Smith


Allen & Overy partner Judith Gill, Mark Levy and Jeffrey Sullivan