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25 July – LAWFUEL – The Law News Network – Global law firm Linklater…

25 July – LAWFUEL – The Law News Network – Global law firm Linklaters has won again for its client Petrobras in the world’s largest oil rig dispute, this time in the Court of Appeal in London. The decision handed down on 15 July 2005 upholds the judgment of the English Commercial Court last year where Linklaters successfully turned claims of around US$245 million against Petrobras into a US$115 million win.

The two related London court cases concern the P36 oil and gas rig, which exploded and sank 190km off Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in March 2001. The rig – then the world’s largest oil and gas production platform – had recently undergone a major upgrade that saw the immense manmade structure towed across the Atlantic from Italy to a shipyard in Quebec and then to the Roncador oil field off-shore Brazil.

A company in the Maritima group, ultimately controlled by Brazilian entrepreneur German Efromovich, managed the P36 upgrading work. That company brought claims concerning the costs of the work against the rig’s operator Petrobras, the Brazilian state oil company. In February 2004 the English Commercial Court threw out over US$80 million of those claims and found that Maritima itself is liable to Petrobras for over US$115 million.

In related proceedings Maritima companies and SANA (the owner of P36) also claimed US$165 million from what insurers had paid to Petrobras on the loss of P36. In a judgment delivered on 20 May 2004 the English Commercial Court threw out all of those claims.

Linklaters litigator Justin Williams, who led on both cases, said:

“Maritima shot themselves in the foot. Not only did we defeat their claim but we also won a substantial amount for Petrobras.”

Linklaters’ involvement in P36 dates from 1997, when asset finance partner Ron Gibbs undertook the financing work for the upgrade and oversaw the complex charter arrangements.

The case does not relate to the loss of P36.

British MP George Galloway and his opponent the Daily Telegraph will leave no stone unturned to sort out what could be a spectacular libel case.