Law Firm Paydays to be Massive in Yukos Case
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Cleary Gottlieb

The $50 billion Yukos arbitration award from the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague is the largest handed out by the court, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The dispute between Yukos’s former owner, Mikhail Khodorkrovsky, and Russia, has been going on for years. It involves billions of dollars in back-tax claims that led to the assets of the oil company being sold off to state-controlled companies.


The case has been ongoing for 10 years now and firms in the United States that have represented both sides have racked up tens of millions of dollars in bills.

The Lawyer said, “Litigation is expensive—but turning to arbitration instead is seldom any cheaper.”

Shearman & Sterling LLP has billed more than $70 million in fees and expenses for representing GML Ltd., the firm that Yukos held the controlling stake. It is located in Gibraltar. Hourly rates from Shearman attorneys were charged at $235 to $1,065 with more than 120,000 hours.

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This number does not include the $9.6 million in expert fees and expenses.

Russia claims that it has spent $27 million in legal costs and another $4.5 million in experts’ fees and expenses. Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP and Baker Botts LLP represented Russia in the case.

The Tribunal found the following: “It is not surprising that Claimants’ costs in this case should be higher than those of Respondent since they bore the burden of proof for their claims… and produced many fact witnesses in the Hearing on the Merits whereas Respondent produced no fact witnesses.”

The Yukos shareholders were ordered to receive a payment of $60 million in legal fees on top of the $50 billion in damages from Russia. The Tribunal also said that the shareholders would receive interest if the fees are not paid by January 15, 2015. Even though both sides had to pay high legal fees, it seems as though both sides have succeeded in the suit by getting their money’s worth. The ruling stated the following:

“The thousands of pages of written pleadings and exhibits submitted by the Parties, the myriad requests for production of documents, the Tribunal’s lengthy procedural orders, the ten days of hearings in The Hague in the fall of 2008 on Respondent’s objections to jurisdiction and admissibility, the 21 days of Hearings on the Merits in The Hague in the fall of 2013, all demonstrate the importance which both sides attached to this arbitration.

The Parties litigated vigorously. Each Party was represented by eminent counsel. The quality of the written and oral pleadings was outstanding. Counsel of both Parties are commended for their high professionalism.”

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