The Legal 500

Libya

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Editorial

In the wake of Muammar Gaddafi’s downfall in 2011, two rival governments and parliaments are vying for power and control of Libya’s oil wealth, upon which the country’s economy is highly dependent – oil provides practically all of the country’s export income and over half of Libya’s GDP.

Despite the difficult environment, many international companies and investors have interests tied up in Libya and require legal advice, which is available from local law firms and a number of international firms. Only law firms with offices in the country are ranked here, although foreign desks are discussed in the following editorial.

Al-Kilani & Gheblawi Law Firm is well known to the market for its experience in the oil sector and also advises on employment law, insurance and tax law, in addition to dispute resolution.

International law firm Clyde & Co stands out for having established a physical presence in Libya post-revolution. Its team in Tripoli consists of seven lawyers, who have extensive knowledge of Libyan and international laws. The Libyan practice is jointly led by Albudery Shariha, who was previously general counsel at the Libyan Investment Authority, and Adrian Creed, who has divided his time between Libya and the United Arab Emirates for over a decade. The group is also supported by legal directors John Brooke, who specialises in dispute resolution, and Leopold Zentner, who is a corporate lawyer who transferred to Tripoli from the firm’s Abu Dhabi office. The practice has been very active in advising ministries and local business leaders on the laws and regulations that are required to rebuild the country; it has also advised clients on the regulatory regime relating to card payment businesses in Libya; and acted for Quippo Middle East on the leasing of an oil rig for use in Libya, including assistance in sub-contract arrangements, the structuring of commercial arrangements, and the principal contract for onshore oil exploration operations in Libya.

MTL Law Office acts for a strong roster of foreign companies; the team assists with the establishment of Libyan branches, including regulatory assistance, and also frequently handles investment projects and banking law matters.

Mukhtar-Kelbash and Elgharabli Attorneys’ Abdudayem Elgharabli has substantial experience in advising international oil companies in the upstream and downstream sectors. He has also acted for international construction, telecoms and aviation companies. Elgharabli’s experience also includes representing international oil companies operating in Libya in tax appeals pertaining to the levying of stamp duty on exploration and production sharing agreements (EPSAs) and successfully representing Sirte Oil Company in litigation against an international construction and engineering company.

Tumi Law Firm is a full-service law firm that enjoys an association with global legal practice, Dentons. It advises on Libya’s Petroleum Law; assists with the interpretation of EPSAs; and handles the financing of oil rigs. Also of note, the team has expertise in commercial, distribution, shipping contracts and customs law matters, as well as banking regulations and disputes. Managing partner Mohamed Tumi is recommended for advising national and international companies on joint ventures, oil and gas transactions and infrastructure projects; he also acts in commercial disputes. Mazen Tumi focuses on oil and gas, project finance, and corporate and M&A matters; he is also regularly instructed in dispute resolution proceedings.

Abdul Aziz & Khalifa Attorneys at Law is recommended for commercial, banking and finance law, as well as tax issues and oil and gas.

Legwell, Ali & Partners has offices in Tripoli and Washington DC, where its lawyers assist US and UK law firms with transactional and contentious matters.

Majeri Law Office has longstanding experience in corporate and commercial law, employment law issues and banking transactions, in addition to foreign investment and taxation. The team also regularly acts in civil law proceedings.

Italian law firm P&A Legal is also on the ground in Libya. The practice acts for foreign companies, advising on issues such as the creation and incorporation of Libyan companies and joint ventures. The team is experienced in commercial and company law, foreign investments, and real estate, as well as taxation, IP, and arbitrations. Recent highlights include advising Impregilo on contractual agreements with Odac and HIB, as well as acting for Impresub, an oil and gas offshore support services company, on the negotiation of its contract with The Arabian Gulf Oil Company, which is drilling a well in the Sirte Basin. The firm opened new offices in Benghazi and Casablanca in 2013 and 2014. Paolo Greco is the key contact.

Other international law firms also have Libyan practices operating from outside of the country, often from London, Paris or Dubai.

Hogan Lovells International LLP’s Dubai-based of counsel Tarek Eltumi is a Libyan-qualified lawyer, who has been involved in significant projects in the country. Eltumi advised ABC International Bank, as facility agent, on the financing of the redevelopment and expansion of Libya’s historic Al Waddan Hotel in Tripoli, marking the first-ever international project finance deal to be funded in Libya. He also acted for a major contractor in a multibillion-dollar contract for the construction of a deep-water container port in Libya and assisted an international bank with a $200m syndicated murabaha financing facility for an international company operating in Libya.

Allen & Overy LLP has acted on high-value banking and finance mandates for global lending institutions; Herbert Smith Freehills LLP has strong sanctions and energy sector experience; Eversheds LLP’s Paris-based of counsel Nanette Pilkington assisted an oil company in negotiations pertaining to its participation in EPSAs in Libya; and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer’s Pervez Akhtar in Dubai has acted for regional and international private equity houses and corporates on their investments in Libya.

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