Squire Patton Boggs win landmark case for the Republic of Kosovo

By Anita Jaynes on 4 October, 2022

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International law firm Squire Patton Boggs recently won a landmark arbitration for the Republic of Kosovo, representing the second in a series of five cases – and the second complete victory achieved by the firm on behalf of the country. 

The case, concerning the expropriation of private investment funding in a national network of petrol stations following Kosovo’s independence from Serbia in 2008, raised fundamental questions in international law, setting key precedents for future tribunals on liability and expropriation.

A Landmark Case

The case was initially brought against Kosovo by Albanian economist Bedri Selmani, who claimed that a post-tax value of €65 million had been expropriated from a leading network of Kosovar petrol stations. The case was brought before the International Chamber of Commerce, with Selmani seeking to prove the newly independent Kosovo was liable for the expropriation.

However, the alleged expropriation occurred under an interim government formed by NATO and UN peacekeeping forces – namely, the Kosovo Force and the United Nations Interim Administration in Kosovo, or UNMIK for short. Litigation lawyers Squire Patton Boggs sought to demonstrate that the new Kosovar administration was not liable for alleged expropriation committed by preceding administrations.

A Complete Victory

Squire Patton Boggs were successful in their assertions, leading to a complete victory for the Republic of Kosovo. The Tribunal awarded three-quarters of Kosovo’s legal costs, finding the majority of their objections to be valid and dismissing the remainder on merit.

The result was a Tribunal that found Kosovo the “clear prevailing party” in the case, and which found Kosovo not to have ever agreed to accept responsibility or liability for actions undertaken by the Kosovo Force or UNMIK administration.

An Ongoing Relationship

The victory is not the first for Kosovo and Squire Patton Boggs; the firm also represented the Republic in 2018, as part of another landmark arbitration. A German investor brought an investment treaty claim to the ICSID in 2018, with a value of €380 million – or a fifth of the country’s annual budget.

The 2018 case also resulted in a complete victory for Kosovo, with the plaintiff ordered to pay over €2 million in legal fees to the Republic. A further three arbitration cases are due to be brought forward, with Squire Patton Boggs continuing to represent the Republic.

An Established Firm

Squire Patton Boggs is an international firm comprising over 100 lawyers, with demonstrable experience in arbitration and international commerce law. The company has firmly established itself on the international stage with its landmark wins for a relatively young Republic. 

The wins have shaped international law in their own way, demonstrating key lines of clear legal defence regarding the liability and responsibility of states to the actions of prior administrations. The remaining three Kosovar arbitration cases are set to build upon these precedents.