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France: Energy 2016

With Paris’ strong ties to francophone Africa, energy practices continue to thrive in the capital. Nationally, 2015 saw the adoption of the long-delayed energy transition bill which will see France’s reliance on nuclear energy reduced to 50 per cent of power generation by 2025. We list 36 individuals in this chapter deemed to be at the top of their game. 

Five lawyers at Herbert Smith Freehills are recommended giving the firm the strongest presence among competitors in our research findings. Stéphane Brabant is co-chairman of the firm’s Africa practice and has over 25 years’ experience working on projects in the emerging markets such as oil and gas, and power projects. Select projects include advising MagEnergy on the structuring and financing for the rehabilitation of electricity turbines in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Bertrand Montembault leads the energy and infrastructure group in Paris. He is described as a “first-rate” lawyer with “strong technical abilities” and “vast experience” working on projects in francophone Africa and France. Rebecca Major has worked on matters in at least 37 African countries and clients appreciate her “wealth of experience” in the region. She advises on oil and gas, and power projects, including advising EDF, Tullow Oil and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. Nina Bowyer offers clients “insightful advice”, always keeping abreast of developments in the markets in Europe, and in East and West Africa. Louis de Longeaux is a “diligent” lawyer who provides “well-reasoned advice”. His experience lies in finance, and he has been involved in a large number of oil and gas projects.

At Shearman & Sterling three lawyers feature prominently in our research. Emmanuel Gaillard enjoys a “prominent position in the legal marketplace” where he serves as head of Shearman & Sterling’s international arbitration practice. He is described as “sensational” and “unrivalled”, and has deep experience in handling matters involving the energy industry. Head of the firm’s Africa practice and the project development and finance group in Paris, Christophe Asselineau is a “well-known name” who “expertly handles” energy projects worldwide. He has a particular focus on Africa, having advised investors on transactions in more than 20 countries in North Africa and sub-Saharan Africa. Yas Banifatemi leads the public international law practice, and acts as counsel and arbitrator in cases involving oil and gas matters.

Two lawyers at Clifford Chance are recommended. Anthony Giustini advises on project development and finance transactions in the oil and gas, petrochemicals and power sectors. He is “incredibly talented” and a “leading figure of the Paris bar”. Nikolaï Eatwell is a “great operator” with a “commercial approach” to matters. He has particular experience advising on energy projects in Africa, Turkey, Russia and the former CIS.

At Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, two lawyers stand out. Barthélemy Faye advises on corporate and financial matters in the emerging markets. His experience includes advising ONGC Mittal Energy in oil and gas investments in Nigeria and joint venture negotiations with Total. Jean-Pierre Vignaud has a “wealth of experience” in the energy sector and advises developing countries and international groups on their transactions.

Norton Rose Fulbright has two inclusions in this chapter. Head of energy for Europe, Middle East and Africa, Anne Lapierre advises on a large number of energy transactions related to renewable and conventional production. Alain Malek heads the North Africa practice and concentrates on infrastructure and natural resources projects with particular experience in power plants.

At Gide Loyrette Nouel, Michel Guénaire is “incredibly knowledgeable” on regulatory matters and advises companies investing in public utilities, particularly in the energy sector. François Krotoff heads the firm’s oil, gas and mining practice and has “vast experience” in Africa where he advises governments, public authorities, banks and developers on their operations.

At the arbitration specialist firm Three Crowns two lawyers are highly recommended. Georgios Petrochilos has a “quick grasp of complex issues” and is “in a class of his own” when it comes to energy disputes. Todd Wetmore is greatly respected for his “personable manner” and “high-quality work”. His experience includes production-sharing disputes and responsibility for production shortfalls and project delays.  

Two individuals are recommended at White & Case. Michael Polkinghorne is a “disputes specialist” who has handled many complex and sensitive cases in the energy sector. He serves as counsel and arbitrator and is “among the top players”. Christopher Seppälä “always delivers” and is considered a “force to be reckoned with”. He is a “pre-eminent” lawyer specialising in arbitration with experience in relation to large nuclear projects.

At McDermott Will & Emery, Jean-Claude Petilon focuses on energy and project finance and has an “impressive record” in relation to projects in Africa.

A recent addition to Holman Fenwick Willan's Paris team is Hugues de la Forge, a highly recommended practitioner for his expertise in major PPP and infrastructure projects in Africa and the Middle East.

Bonna Auzas Lawyers is represented by Philippe Auzas, a founding partner of the firm and a “true specialist” in the oil and gas sector.

Allen & Overy’s Alexandre Ancel assists international clients in their transactions and joint ventures. He possesses the “ability to get to the heart of an issue”, and offers “sensible and well-reasoned advice”.

JeantetAssociés' Thierry Lauriol is a “stellar practitioner” whose expertise covers energy and natural resources law. He has almost 30 years’ experience handling projects in France, Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

At Linklaters François April has over 18 years’ experience advising on renewable energy projects. He has been involved in several landmark transactions including advising Nord/LB and HSH Nordbank on the project financing of a portfolio of four wind farms in the North of France.

Clyde & Co’s David Brown is a disputes resolution lawyer with an “impressive record”. He has a particular focus on international arbitration and has handled many energy disputes including those in the nuclear industry.

Eduardo Silva Romero is co-chair of Dechert’s international arbitration practice, widely seen as an “eminent” practitioner with experience including oil and gas, and electricity-related disputes.

At Simmons & Simmons Simon Ratledge’s practice sees his involvement in projects in francophone Africa. He advises across a range of energy matters including power, and oil and gas.

Yves Derains, a founding partner of Derains & Gharavi, has a “stellar reputation as an arbitrator”. He is “unsurpassed” in terms of experience and is a “point of reference” for many in the market.

King & Spalding’s Mehdi Haroun is dual-qualified in France and Algeria, and has a strong focus on North Africa. He has advised clients on a broad range of concerns affecting the energy industry, including tender processes, financings, disputes, and corporate and commercial matters.

At Morgan Lewis & Bockius Olivier Chambord stands out for his experience advising international energy clients in project development, M&A transactions, and disposals in Europe and Africa. He has an “excellent style of delivery” and offers “comprehensive advice”.

Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe’s Laurent Jaeger focuses on disputes in the energy sector, representing major French and foreign players, as well as states and governments across Europe, Africa and the US.

At his own firm Paul-A Gélinas is a renowned arbitrator and a “popular choice” on energy disputes.

Philippe Pinsolle of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan serves as the managing partner of the Paris office. He has acted as counsel in over 200 international arbitrations and has served as arbitrator in more than 40 cases. He is “extremely capable” and “highly accomplished”.

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Nominees have been selected based upon comprehensive, independent survey work with both general counsel and private practice lawyers worldwide. Only specialists who have met independent international research criteria are listed.

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W11 1QQ, UK