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Libya

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Editorial

Legal market overview

The cost of political conflict has taken a severe toll on the Libyan economy, which has been in recession since 2013. Due to the ongoing civil conflict, budget revenues and exports proceeds remain low. The oil and gas sector has however recorded a slight recovery in July 2017 when the country's crude oil production hit 1,005,000 bpd, making it the highest level in four years; however, it fell again in August 2017 due to militants attacking Libya's oilfields. Despite security issues remaining a major concern for international oil companies invested in the country, it is the political instability that makes business particularly difficult. The fall of Libya's authoritarian government led to the emergence of two rival parliaments and three governments with the latest government being formed in 2016 in UN-brokered talks with the aim of replacing the other two. This UN-mediated deal for a unity government has seen the formation of a Presidency Council led by prime minister Fayez Sarraj, who arrived in Tripoli in March 2016, trying to win support of the various militias and politicians. However, so far his administration has very little real power over the whole country, allowing ISIS to gain foothold in key towns and cities.

Nonetheless, foreign investment in the country's oil and gas sector persists, translating into various international oil companies requiring advice from local law firms on general corporate, project development, regulatory and contentious matters. This chapter only ranks law firms with offices on the ground in Libya, while foreign desks of international law firms are mentioned at the end of the editorial.

Al-Kilani & Gheblawi Law Firm is particularly active in the oil and gas space, where it advises a number of blue-chip multinationals, and also has considerable clout in handling corporate investment, commercial, insurance, tax and contentious work. Managing partner Mohamed Al-Kilani and Abdalla Gheblawi are the key contacts.

Mukhtar-Kelbash and Elgharabli Attorneys frequently utilises its strong oil and gas expertise to advise international exploration and production companies as well as oilfield companies on various aspects of Libyan petroleum laws and other regulations; the group additionally handles a significant amount of contentious and non-contentious corporate and employment work for telecoms corporations, commercial and investment banks, private equity funds and defence companies. Other areas of expertise include assisting international contractors with construction matters pertaining to major projects. The team, which includes key figures Abdudayem Elgharabli and Mahmud Mukhtar, also acts as local counsel for international law firms.

Tumi Law Firm, which has had an association with international law firm Dentons since 2010, offers advice on a wide range of corporate and commercial issues, including contentious work, and has substantial expertise in investment, immigration, insurance, banking and finance as well as employment and IP law. Founding partner Mohamed Tumi is well versed in advising on oil and gas work, transactions, regulatory and general business law matters while managing partner Mazen Tumi is best known for handling privatisation issues and the set-up of financial facilities.

MTL Law Office acts for international clients in commercial and banking law matters and also handles litigation and arbitration work. Salah Marghani is the key contact.

At Majeri Law Office, the team around Sghair Majeri is well equipped to guide clients through the Libyan business framework, advising on commercial, civil and employment law matters alongside banking and investment issues and taxation.

P&A Legal's strength lies in cross-border transactional work involving Italy and various African and Middle Eastern countries. Other areas of expertise include real estate, corporate and tax law. Mohamed Bara is the key contact.

Several international firms continue to run Libya desks from offices outside the country. The team at King & Spalding LLP is led by the Paris-based Mehdi Haroun and puts significant emphasis on the oil and gas sectors, advising national and international clients on corporate, commercial, construction and contentious issues. At Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Dubai-based managing partner for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), Pervez Akhtar is experienced in advising regional and international financial investors and corporates on investment and corporate matters.

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