Christopher Seppälä | White & Case LLP International Law Firm, Global Law Practice
Christopher Seppälä
Christopher Seppälä

Christopher Seppälä

Partner, Paris

T +33 1 55 04 15 45

T +33 1 55 04 15 15

E cseppala@whitecase.com

in LinkedIn profile

“He is the best construction arbitration lawyer there is.”

Chambers Global 2016 (Global-wide)

Overview

Chris' main areas of practice are international commercial arbitration and international construction, with a particular focus on international construction claims and disputes relating to large, complex civil engineering, industrial (including nuclear) and building projects.

He has more than 35 years of experience representing or counseling parties in relation to international commercial arbitrations under the rules of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), the London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA), the Japan Commercial Arbitration Association and the Cairo Regional Centre, as well as ad hoc arbitrations under the UNCITRAL and other arbitration rules.

He has represented multi-national corporations and banks, as well as sovereign States or their State-owned entities (Algeria, Bulgaria, Egypt, Gabon, Guinea, Iran, Kuwait, Peru and Qatar), in international arbitrations. He has also served as chairman of the tribunal or co-arbitrator in various arbitrations.

His practice has a particular focus on international construction claims and disputes in relation to civil engineering, industrial (including nuclear) and building projects, as well as claims under contracts in the oil and gas industry. He has also acted as construction and arbitration counsel in project finance transactions, including Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT), Design-Build-Operate-Transfer (DBOT) and similar projects.

He served as Chairman of the International FIDIC Standard Conditions Subcommittee of the International Bar Association from 1985-89, and advised FIDIC in the preparation of the fourth edition of its civil engineering conditions ("Red Book") published in 1987. He was Legal Advisor (and Member) of FIDIC's Update Task Group which prepared the three current FIDIC conditions of contract for major works (the "Red", "Yellow" and "Silver" Books), published in 1999. He has been Legal Advisor to the FIDIC Contracts Committee continuously since 2000 and currently serves as FIDIC’s official Observer on the ICC International Court of Arbitration.

Chris is a former Vice-President Emeritus of the International Court of Arbitration of the ICC, an international member of the Board of Directors of the Arbitration Institute of the Finland Chamber of Commerce and on the list of International Arbitrators of CAMARB – Business Arbitration Chamber – Brazil. He is also a member of UNIDROIT’s Working Group on Long Term Contracts.

Bars and Courts

  • New York State Bar
  • Paris Bar

Education

  • JD, Columbia Law School
  • BA, Harvard University

Languages

  • English
  • French

Experience

Nuclear project disputes

Lead counsel for a European electrical utility in two ICC arbitrations relating to a proposed multi-billion Euro EPC contract for the design and construction of a nuclear power plant (2000 MWe). Chris also acted as lead counsel for another such utility, in two ICC arbitrations relating to another such contract for the design and construction of a nuclear power plant (1630 MWe).

Middle Eastern developer

Lead counsel in four related ICC arbitrations in Paris involving a dispute with a contractor concerning a major land remediation project in the Middle East, as well as ancillary court proceedings in the United States.

Consortium of major European contractors

Lead counsel in an LCIA arbitration in London relating to claims arising out of construction of one of the largest privately-financed (BOT) infrastructure projects in Europe and as lead counsel or co-counsel in two separate ICC arbitrations in London concerning disputes with subcontractors arising out of the same project.

African oil-producing State and an oil company

Lead counsel in an ICC arbitration in Paris, conducted in French, brought by two major oil companies concerning the interpretation of the State's standard form of production-sharing contract.

African State-owned entity

Lead counsel in an ICC arbitration in Paris, conducted in French, governed by the African State's law relating to the construction of a major dam and hydro-electric plant in Africa.

Asian steel plant contractor

Lead counsel in an ICC arbitration in Paris related to the supply and erection of a special steel plant in Egypt, and supervision of ancillary court litigation in Egypt and the United States relating to the call of the client's performance bond.

Major European industrial company

Lead counsel in an ICC arbitration in London, relating to a real estate project in China, including supervision of ancillary court litigation in London, England, the Turks and Caicos Islands, and Shanghai, China.

Middle Eastern civil works contractor

Lead counsel for a contractor, a partner in a joint venture having a contract for the construction of a major highway in the Middle East, in an ICC arbitration in Paris brought against it by another partner for an accounting.

Arab civil works contractor

Lead counsel for an Arab contractor, the claimant, in an ICC arbitration against an Asian State relating to the construction of the main airport in such State.

Speaking Engagements

"FIDIC Experts", December 4, 2015: IBC Legal's FIDIC International Contract Users' Conference,
London

"Dispute Boards and Arbitration", November 18, 2015: ICC Arbitration in the Middle East: An Insider View, ICC,
Dubai

"Arbitration in the 21st Century: How Can We Improve the Process?", November 17, 2015: Joint Young Arbitrators' Conference,
Dubai
, (keynote presentation)

"Dispute Adjudication Boards in International Projects” and “The Unique Character of Nuclear Power Plant Projects and the Resolution of Disputes Relating to Them", November 12-13, 2015: Alternative Dispute Resolution Conference,
Aqaba

"Pacta Sunt Servanda, Contractual Equilibrium and Arbitration in Times of Crises", September 13-15, 2015: CBAR XIV International Arbitration Conference, Parana,
Brazil (keynote presentation)

"Time Bars and FIDIC Contracts" and on “FIDIC DABs Before National Courts and International Tribunals", June 30 – July 1, 2015: FIDIC Asia-Pacific Contract Users' Conference,
Singapore

"Foreign Direct Investment and Free Trade: an EU Law perspective" and "Dispute Resolution through Arbitration in Construction", April 15-16: Foreign Investment Law Symposium, Kadir Has University Faculty of Law,
Istanbul

FIDIC ICC Conference on International Construction Contracts & Dispute Resolution, March 24-25, 2015: FIDIC ICC Conference on International Construction Contracts & Dispute Resolution,
Bogotá (chaired day one)

"FIDIC and DAB's - how does it help the market place", March 18, 2015: FIDIC webinar introducing FIDIC contracts

"Limitation of Liability Under the FIDIC Contracts", March 4, 2015: 6th Annual FIDIC Middle East Contract Users' Conference,
Abu Dhabi

Publications

  • An Excellent Decision from Singapore Which Should Enhance the Enforceability of Decisions of Dispute Adjudication Boards — the Second Persero Case before the Court of Appeal, published in Construction Law Journal, vol. 31, no. 7, 2015
  • Commentary on Recent ICC Arbitral Awards dealing with Dispute Adjudication Boards under FIDIC Contracts, published in the ICC Dispute Resolution Bulletin, Issue 1, 2015
  • A Welcome Decision from Singapore: the Second Persero Case, published in Construction Law International, Volume 10, Issue 1, March 2015
  • Singapore Contributes to a Better Understanding of the FIDIC Disputes Clause: The Second Persero Case, published in The International Construction Law Review, London, England, January 2015
  • Good News from Singapore – the Second Persero Case, published in Global Arbitration Review, November 10, 2014
  • International Construction Contract Disputes: Fourth Commentary on ICC Awards Dealing Primarily with FIDIC Contracts, published in the ICC International Court of Arbitration Bulletin, Volume 24, Number 2, 2013
  • How Not To Interpret The FIDIC Disputes Clause: The Singapore Court Of Appeal Judgment In Persero, published in The International Construction Law Review, London, England, 2012
  • Sub-Clause 20.7 of the FIDIC Red Book Does Not Justify Denying Enforcement of a 'Binding' DAB decision, published in Construction Law International, London, 2011
  • Libyan Civil Unrest – Contractor's Remedies, published as a White & Case Insight: Construction, March 20, 2011, (co-author, with Nicolas Bouchardie)
  • Enforcement by an Arbitral Award of a Binding But Not Final Engineer’s or DAB’s Decision Under the FIDIC Conditions, published in The International Construction Law Review, London, England, 2009
  • Member of the Editorial Advisory Board and Correspondent for France of The International Construction Law Review, London, and a member of the International Editorial Board of Revista de Arbitragem Mediação, Brazil.

Awards & Recognition

Recipient of the Louis Prangey Award, FIDIC's highest accolade for meritorious service

Leading lawyer in international arbitration

Cabinet d'Avocats en France; Chambers Global; Chambers Europe; The World's Leading Lawyers; Décideurs Juridiques et Financiers; European Legal Experts; Global Counsel 3000; Law Firms in Europe; Guide to the World's Leading Experts in Commercial Arbitration; The Legal 500 - Paris; Who's Who Legal

Leading lawyer in international construction/real estate

European Legal Experts; Global Counsel 3000; Guide to the World's Leading Real Estate Lawyers; The Legal 500 - Paris