Hospodarske noviny, 6.3.2013 EN


Lost the arbitration, still represent the State


Ministry of Finance continues in cooperation with lawyers of Rowan Legal. They will get yet another 171 000 euros. The law firm that has represented Slovakia in the lost arbitration dispute with the owner of the health insurer Union will get further remuneration. The Ministry of Finance has signed a supplement to the contract with Rowan Legal, according to which they will represent us also within the appealing against the arbitration tribunal's decision. The price for the legal services of the law firm of almost 850 thousand euros will thus be raised by 171 thousand, excl. VAT. This amount may be even higher, "in case there should be necessity of further services regarding the reversal of the decision or defense against execution of the decision from the side of the Claimant".

According to the Minister of Finance Peter Kažimír, the remuneration for Rowan Legal has been stipulated "based on estimation of development and the extent of further representation in proceedings." Lawyer Jana Martinková warns that it may be inadequate. "If the remuneration raised by 171 000 euros regarding preparation and coordination of representation of the Slovak republic shall comprise only summarization of the underlying documents and arguments already used during the first phase of the arbitration proceedings, the this amount may be above the standard". Martinková would hold it adequate in case the lawyers would prepare a new argumentation.

The firm keeps silence

Rowan Legal did not say what tactics the lawyers will use and how they estimate their chances by appealing of the decision before the Higher Regional Court. "We are bound by duty of confidentiality in regard to our client - the Ministry of Finance SR," Ľudovít Mičinský from the law firm reasoned.

The arbitration tribunal awarded Achmea €25 million along with costs of the proceedings for the ban of profit from the times of the first Fico administration. Martinková sees no great chances to avert this decision. "With an internationally recognized, successful firm with, beside the concerned issues, knowledge of the German legal environment, which would already since the beginning have controlled the prepared documentation and coordinate the approach they would be higher", she said. As she added, although the continuation of cooperation with Rowan Legal has its logic, as the dispute is pending, there is nothing that would preclude the Ministry from changing the representation, or alternatively, engaging another one. "If there have been any mistakes made in the beginning of the process, these are difficult to correct in this phase. Engaging of another expert, or a law firm specialized in this field is common by appellations against decisions in arbitration disputes."

They will not switch lawyers

The Ministry has not been considering switching lawyers. "Given the stage of the dispute and the structure of the defense, it would be counterproductive and non-economic for Slovakia to switch representation. We have been represented by Rowan Legal through a long term, along with cooperating German firms of Hogan Lovells International LLP and Von Plehwe Schäfer Rechtsanwälte," the press department of the Ministry stated.

In the beginning of the dispute, Slovakia was represented by KŠD Šťovíček. They then created a consortium with Baker Botts and Rowan Legal. In the end all was led by Rowan Legal in cooperation with the said subcontractors. Altogether the legal services have cost us more than 13 million euros. The Ministry refuses to disclose the final price tag.