The Legal 500

Libya

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Editorial

More than four years have passed since Muammar Gaddafi’s downfall in 2011 and Libya’s future remains bleak. The country’s economy, which is highly dependent on petroleum industry revenues, has been in recession since 2013, affected by the political and armed conflict that has disrupted oil production and export (real GDP contracted by approximately 24% in 2014 and by 13.6% the previous year). The slump in global oil prices has compounded the situation, but the country’s short term economic prospects could improve as a result of the UN-brokered political agreement involving the House of Representatives and General National Congress; the newly formed Government of National Accord should help to stabilise the country’s security situation. In the long term, it is hoped that Libya lessens its dependency on oil and gas by developing a more diversified market economy.

Meanwhile, international investors with business interests locked into Libya still require reliable and accurate legal advice from the country’s leading law practices. Only firms with offices on the ground in Libya are ranked here, but foreign desks are also mentioned at the end of this chapter's editorial.

Al-Kilani & Gheblawi Law Firm is highly rated for its advice to oil sector clients. The firm also assists with employment, insurance and tax matters, as well as dispute resolution. Mohamed Al-Kilani is the recommended senior partner. In the oil and gas sphere, Al-Kilani handles the interpretation and analysis of oil concessions, sales contracts, and the representation of oil and gas companies before the National Oil Corporation and the Tax Department.

Global firm Clyde & Co established a physical presence in Libya post-revolution, and is one of the few firms to offer on-the-ground services in Libya as part of its international offering. The firm advised HSBC UAE (when it decided to cease operations in Libya and close its office) on the complex dismissal of employees; terminating lease, IT and other contracts; and carrying out a full document audit. The ‘extremely highly qualified’ Albudery Shariha, former general counsel of the Libyan Investment Authority, advises on financial, regulatory and corporate matters, and has also advised on a number of Libya’s flagship infrastructure projects. Shariha leads the Libya office, alongside dispute resolution partner Christopher Jobson, who is based in Abu Dhabi and is a former managing partner and chairman of Eversheds LLP in the Middle East. Adrian Creed is now also based in Abu Dhabi, and Tripoli and London-based consultant John Brooke is a member of the dispute resolution group and on the firm's sanctions team. Leopold Zentner left private practice for an in-house role in Saudi Arabia.

MTL Law Office continues to be active on behalf of several international companies. The practice has a solid reputation for advising foreign clients on the establishment of Libyan branches, inclusive of regulatory matters. It is also recommended for investment projects and banking law issues. Co-founding partner Salah Marghani is a highly rated commercial lawyer who has extensive knowledge of international business from a Libyan perspective.

Mukhtar-Kelbash and Elgharabli Attorneys’ Abdudayem Elgharabli is well known for advising international oil companies on upstream and downstream matters. Elgharabli’s client list also includes construction, telecom and aviation companies. Mahmud Mukhtar also has substantial experience advising international oil companies, as well as oil services companies, international banks and finance institutions, and foreign investors.

Tumi Law Firm provides a full-service practice that remains in association with global firm Dentons. Its representative experience includes advising on Libya’s Petroleum Law, and acting on the financing of oil rigs. The firm also advises on shipping contracts, commercial and banking disputes, and Libya’s banking and stock exchange laws. Managing partner Mohamed Tumi is recommended for his advice to national and international companies on joint ventures, oil and gas deals, and infrastructure projects; healso acts in high-profile litigation. Mazen Tumi has extensive experience representing national and international companies and organisations in transactional matters. Senior legal counsel Mohammed Najjar is noted for commercial disputes, aircraft leases and bank guarantees, in addition to international commercial transactions.

Abdul Aziz & Khalifa Attorneys at Law has a longstanding reputation for its expertise in commercial, banking and finance law. The firm is also regularly instructed on tax matters and oil and gas issues.

Majeri Law Office is well known for its advice on corporate and commercial law, employment matters and banking transactions. It also assists clients with foreign investment and tax. In litigation, the firm has experience before all of Libya’s courts, including the Supreme Court. Name partner Sghair Majeri is recommended.

Italian firm P&A Legal has had an office in Libya for several years and has established a strong reputation for its advice to international companies operating in Libya. The firm also assists with the creation and incorporation of Libyan companies and joint ventures, and has expertise in commercial and company law, foreign investments and real estate matters, as well as taxation, IP and arbitration. Paolo Greco is the key contact.

Several international law firms have Libyan desks that they run from outside of the country, often from London, Paris or Dubai. Allen & Overy LLP has an impressive track record of significant banking and finance mandates for globally renowned financial institutions; Herbert Smith Freehills LLP has strong energy sector expertise, and has also been active assisting clients with sanctions issues; and at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Dubai-based Pervez Akhtar is well known for Libya-related work, particularly advising regional and international private equity houses and corporations on their investments.

Other international firms with active Libya practices include: King & Spalding LLP’s Paris office, which has acted on major and medium-sized transactions in Libya for over ten years – Mehdi Haroun is the recommended contact; Eversheds LLP, where France-based of counsel Nanette Pilkington’s representative experience includes assisting an oil company with negotiations relating to its participation in exploration and production sharing agreements in Libya; and Hogan Lovells International LLP, where London-based, Libyan-qualified counsel Tarek Eltumi is recommended. Eltumi is a former assistant director and corporate counsel at AECOM Libya, where he advised on the management of a $60bn housing and infrastructure programme. His other experience includes advising an international contractor on a multibillion-dollar contract for a deep water container port in Libya; assisting Oasis International Power with its formation of a joint venture with the Libyan Investment Authority for the development of projects in Libya; and advising an international bank on a $40m murabaha facility agreement for the purchase of equipment.

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