Republic of Congo Wins ICC Arbitration

October 26, 2009

Cleary Gottlieb successfully represented the Republic of Congo in an International Chamber of Commerce arbitration against Groupe Antoine Tabet, a Lebanese company. In its October 26 award, the ICC Arbitral Tribunal dismissed Groupe Antoine Tabet’s claim and granted Congo’s counterclaim in the amount of €34 million.

This decision puts an end to a 10-year complex arbitration arising out of two agreements for the financing by Groupe Antoine Tabet of the construction and expansion by Groupe Antoine Tabet’s congolese subsidiary (Afrique Entreprise Tabet) of roadways in Congo.

After the 1997/1998 civil war, the new Congolese Government terminated the agreements with Groupe Antoine Tabet.

Relying on (i) an allegedly agreed-upon fixed repayment schedule and (ii) the indemnification clause provided for in the agreements, Groupe Antoine Tabet sought more than €100 million as a result of Congo’s failure to make installment payments under the fixed schedule and to compensate for the loss suffered by Afrique Entreprise Tabet during the civil war.

The Republic of Congo denied Groupe Antoine Tabet’s claim and asserted a counterclaim seeking compensation for excess repayments under the financing agreements.

The ICC Tribunal upheld Congo’s defense that the repayment schedule relied upon by Groupe Antoine Tabet was not binding on Congo, dismissed most of Groupe Antoine Tabet’s damages claims, and granted Congo’s counterclaim.

The overall outcome is an approximately €34 million debt from Groupe Antoine Tabet to the Republic of Congo.

This dispute also gave rise to numerous civil and criminal judicial proceedings in Congo, France, and Switzerland, including ongoing annulment, exequatur and enforcement proceedings in France, in which Cleary Gottlieb represents the Republic of Congo.