Court Forces Sale of Arbitration Award to Pay Law Firm Dentons

A European law firm won Delaware court approval to have a former client’s $92 million arbitration award seized so that it can be paid for its legal services.

Law firm Dentons Europe LLP sued former client Customs and Tax Consultancy LLC (CTC) in June after CTC allegedly failed to pay for legal fees accrued in its arbitration victory against the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Dentons, in an effort to get paid for its legal fees, asked the Delaware court to authorize arbitration award broker ClaimTrading Ltd. to seize the award and market it on behalf of CTC.

“It’s an interesting case, and interesting relief, but I think you’re right, I can do this,” Joseph R. Slights III, vice chancellor of the Court of Chancery in Delaware, said at an Aug. 26 hearing, siding with Dentons and approving ClaimTrading to market the award.

Dentons filed its lawsuit in Delaware’s Chancery Court because CTC is a limited liability company formed in the state.

Unpaid Award

CTC provided consulting work for the Congo for a project in the late 2000’s, but the African country allegedly failed to pay.

Dentons represented CTC in arbitration proceedings at the International Chamber of Commerce’s International Court of Arbitration in 2015. The court ruled that the Congo owed CTC more than $90 million plus fees and interest.

CTC still has not received money from the Congo, Emily A. Letcher of Bayard PA, representing Dentons, told the court Aug. 26.

CTC, which has never disputed it owed Dentons, failed to respond to the law firm’s lawsuit, Letcher said.

Dentons declined to comment further on the case. ClaimTrading declined to comment on the court’s decision. CTC could not be reached for comment.

In a separate but related case, CTC sued the Congo in June in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia for breach of contract. The firm is asking the court to confirm the $90 million award.

The case is Dentons Europe LLP v. Customs and Tax Consultancy LLC, Del. Ch., No. 2019-0415, Order default judgment 8/26/19.

Leslie A. Pappas in Wilmington

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