Thompson & Knight Expands International Oil And Gas Arbitration Expertise

Friday, April 13, 2012 - 09:26

The global oil and gas industry is increasingly turning to arbitration in resolving a wide range of legal disputes, and the law firm of Thompson & Knight continues to bolster its expertise in this dynamic area of the energy market.

“Our firm’s knowledge of the oil and gas business has proven invaluable in supporting clients through the changing geopolitical environment and the complexities of international arbitration,” says Andrew B. Derman, Thompson & Knight’s international energy practice leader and noted oil and gas expert.

During the past three years, the firm's attorneys have represented several major and independent oil and gas companies in a variety of significant matters, including:

  • An International Centre for Dispute Resolution (ICDR) arbitration on behalf of an international energy company's downstream affiliates that was recognized by The American Lawyer as one of the ten largest reported awards during 2009-2010;
  • The London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA) and International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) arbitrations on behalf of a joint venturer related to the construction and operation of a gas-to-liquids plant;
  • An ICC arbitration on behalf of an international energy company related to a gas-processing concession awarded by the Federal Government of Nigeria;
  • An ICDR arbitration on behalf of an international energy company relating to upstream developments in Colombia;
  • An American Arbitration Association (AAA) arbitration on behalf of an independent oil and gas company involving the alleged breach of an asset purchase-and-sale agreement; and
  • Pre-dispute counseling engagements to help clients maximize the chances of success in potential arbitrations involving projects and developments in Latin America, Africa and the Middle East.

Mr. Derman has assisted energy industry clients in more than 50 countries on six continents during his legal career. He continues to work closely with Thompson & Knight partners Paul H. Cohen, Philip J. Kessler, William M. Katz, Jr. and Andrew Melsheimer in oil and gas arbitrations. These projects currently involve upstream and downstream energy developments in North America in addition to upstream and midstream projects in South America, Africa and the Middle East.

“This team provides clients with a powerful combination that brings together a deep understanding of legal issues affecting the oil and gas markets, and the addition of Paul Cohen in our New York office last year accelerated our plans in this area,” says Emily Parker, the firm’s managing partner.

Mr. Cohen, a co-founder of 12 Gray’s Inn Square Chambers, has substantial experience in international arbitration, trans-national litigation and both domestic and international regulatory inquiries. He is licensed both in New York and in England and Wales.

The firm works closely with renowned London barrister and arbitration expert Arthur Marriott QC of 12 Gray's Inn Square and is relocating its London office to 9 Gray’s Inn Square effective April 1. Gray's Inn is one of the four English Inns of Court.

“This move of our London-based operations further enhances our ability to serve existing clients and better positions Thompson & Knight for new business opportunities for international arbitration,” says Mr. Derman.

Thompson & Knight recently was named the “Law Firm of the Year in Oil & Gas Law” in the 2011-2012 edition of Best Law Firms, the preeminent listing of the nation’s top legal practices published by U.S. News & World Report and The Best Lawyers in America®.

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Thompson & Knight LLP has announced that Demetra L. Liggins has been selected for the 2012 Fellows Program of the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity (LCLD). This year-long mentoring program helps attorneys build relationships and leadership skills by connecting with and learning from a network of top general counsels and managing partners in the legal industry. She joins a class of 134 attorneys from around the country who will participate in various programs, including conferences, legal training, peer-group projects and discussions with LCLD’s top leadership.

Ms. Liggins is a partner in the Corporate Reorganization and Creditors’ Rights Practice Group in Houston. She focuses her practice on business finance and restructurings for a variety of large and small public and private companies, assisting with complex corporate reorganization and distressed acquisitions. Her accolades include being named to the 2011 “Law Firm Rainmakers” list by Diversity & the Bar as well as Texas Rising Stars® by Thomson Reuters.  

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Thompson & Knight attorneys Max Ciccarelli, Michael Heinlen, and Gary Sorden have obtained another courtroom defense win for Dallas-based Southwest Airlines Co. (NYSE: LUV) in an East Texas patent infringement case. 

The Thompson & Knight team from the firm’s Dallas office represented AirTran Airways Inc. in the trial heard by jurors before the Hon. Leonard Davis in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas in Tyler. The case is CEATS Inc. v. Continental Airlines Inc., et al ., No. 6:10-CV-120. In April 2010, Tyler-based CEATS sued several airlines and ticketing companies based on claims that a series of CEATS patents covered mouse-over technology used in online interactive seat maps. 

AirTran Airways was among the listed defendants when Southwest Airlines acquired the company in May 2011. Southwest Airlines soon asked Thompson & Knight to take over the defense of AirTran. Testimony in the trial began on March 12 and ended on March 20. After almost 10 hours of deliberations, the jury came back with a defense verdict in favor of Southwest Airlines and the other defendant companies after finding that the asserted claims of the four asserted patents were invalid. 

CEATS was seeking almost $100 million from the various defendants in the lawsuit. The Thompson & Knight team and law firms representing other defendants collaborated on the trial of the case. 

Last year, Thompson & Knight also obtained a patent victory for Southwest Airlines against another plaintiff seeking to exploit its patents in Parallel Networks LLC v. Abercrombie & Fitch, et al., No. 6:10-cv-111 , which also was heard in Judge Davis’ courtroom. In that case, Thompson & Knight spearheaded an early summary judgment process that resulted in a finding of non-infringement for nearly 100 defendants, including Southwest Airlines. 
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Thompson & Knight has been recognized in the 2012 Chambers Global legal directory by Chambers & Partners. Additionally, partners Jeffrey B. Andrews, Andrew B. Derman, Hassan Yassine and William Prescott Mills Schwind are cited for their exceptional legal careers.

Thompson & Knight is ranked among the top 10 firms in the U.S. for Energy: Oil and Gas (Transactional). Mr. Derman, the Firm’s International Energy Practice Group Leader, is recognized by the publication for his representation of “ domestic and international oil companies and independents in connection with major upstream work.” Clients describe Mr. Derman as “an extremely safe pair of hands.”    

The firm is one of only four law firms ranked in Algeria for Corporate/Commercial: Foreign. The firm is noted by the editors of the directory as “especially visible in the energy sector,” offering “a broad range of services to clients doing business in Europe, Africa and the Middle East” by supporting “companies from the region entering the U.S. market.” 

Thompson & Knight is ranked among top firms in Latin America for Corporate/M&A and Projects. The editors of the directory note that the firm is “highly specialized in energy, oil and gas projects,” providing “overseas developers with legal assistance in Latin America, as well as advice on general business strategy.” Sources say, “Above all, I value the loyalty and dedication. Their attorneys have the expertise to provide us with new ideas and solid approaches to the issues we face,” and “It offers complete commitment and dedication.” Mr. Schwind is recognized among “Foreign Experts” in Projects and as a prominent member of the team with significant Brazil connections. 

Mr. Andrews was named a “Notable Practitioner” for Outsourcing, recognized for counseling “clients from a broad range of industries, including telecoms and energy,” with his practice including “negotiating and implementing multiprocess outsourcing agreements.” 

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The law firm of Thompson & Knight LLP has been named a 2011 Community of Respect ® Partner by the Anti-Defamation League.  This honor is given to businesses that demonstrate a commitment to building bridges of respect and understanding, celebrating diversity. Thompson & Knight has received the Community of Respect ® accolade annually since 2007. 
“Thompson & Knight takes great pride in this recognition from the Anti-Defamation League, because we share the commitment to promote diversity and respect,” says Alfred M. Meyerson, the firm’s Houston office leader and current board member of the Anti-Defamation League’s Southwest region. “Our receipt of this designation over the course of several years is a testament to our continued dedication and commitment to promoting diversity and respect in our law firm and in our community.”