Foreign Governments, Their Agencies and Enterprises
The Firm has long been known for its distinctive practice representing foreign governments, and their agencies and enterprises, as well as for its practice in international and foreign relations law generally. It provides legal advice and consultation, assistance in transactional matters, and representation in frequently precedent-setting litigation.
The firm represents the Republic of Cuba, and its agencies and enterprises, in all matters pertaining to the United States. The Firm has been Cuba’s only counsel in the United States since June 1960.
Other Foreign Governments
In addition, the Firm has also represented:
The Plurinational State of Bolivia
Republic of South Africa
Central Bank of Iran (Bank Markazi Iran) during the Iran-U.S. confrontation of 1979-81
Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou and the Government of the Hellenic Republic (Greece)
Republic of Haiti and President Jean-Bertrand Aristide
Republic of Chile, CORFO (Chilean state development corporation) and CODELCO (Chilean state copper company) during the presidency of Salvador Allende
Nicaraguan state enterprises and Nicaragua’s Permanent Mission to the U.N.
The Angolan state airline, TAAG, and Angola’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations
Officials of the PLO’s Permanent Observer Mission to the United Nations in contesting the U.S. efforts to close the Mission
On behalf of its Cuban and other foreign state clients, the Firm has litigated numerous landmark cases in international and foreign relations law. These court decisions, many rendered by the United States Supreme Court, establish legal principles that are of great importance to foreign sovereigns generally.
The Plurinational State of Bolivia
The Firm represented the government of the Plurinational State of Bolivia in its attempt to extradite several former high-ranking Bolivian officials. It has also advised the Embassy and Foreign Ministry of the Plurinational State of Bolivia on various other legal matters in the United States.
In federal court litigation arising out of Bolivia’s nationalization of the foreign ownership interests in its telephone company, the Firm, representing Empresa Nacional de Telecomunicaciones Entel S.A., overturned the attachment of the telephone company’s New York bank accounts. The attachment had been obtained to secure a possible arbitration award in a nationalization claim against Bolivia at ICSID (the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes). E.T.I. Euro Telecom International N.V. v. Republic of Bolivia and Empresa Nacional de Telecomunicaciones Entel S.A.
In England, the Firm instructed and assisted English counsel in overturning parallel attachments of the Bolivian telephone company’s London bank accounts.
Republic of South Africa
The Firm is currently defending the Republic of South Africa in litigation that seeks to hold it liable for claims against South African citizens based on allegations that these individuals acted as sanctions-busting agents of the former apartheid regime.
The Firm is also currently presenting South Africa’s objections to United States courts’ entertaining private claims against U.S. banks and corporations for doing business in apartheid-era South Africa. The Republic of South Africa maintains that, whether or not to hold U.S. companies responsible is a sovereign decision for South Africa alone to make, not a matter for the United States courts.
The Firm prevailed in sovereign immunity litigation on behalf of the Republic of South Africa arising from its effort to prevent unauthorized use of Internet domain names bearing the “South Africa” name.
The Firm advised the Government and assisted in preparing presentations to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).
Central Bank of Iran (Bank Markazi Iran)
During the Iran-U.S. confrontation of 1979-81, the Firm successfully represented the Central Bank of Iran (Bank Markazi Iran) in litigation to protect billions of dollars of Central Bank assets from seizure by United States banks alleging default by Iranian commercial entities on bank loans. The Firm obtained a U.S. judicial decision recognizing the Central Bank’s right to proceed with litigation in London to determine the validity of the U.S. banks’ claims, rather than be forced to resolve the banks’ claims in U.S. courts. In other litigation involving over 100 cases in the United States courts, the Firm obtained orders vacating judicial attachments of Central Bank accounts by United States companies asserting commercial claims against Iranian commercial state enterprises.
The Firm drafted the protocol that became the basis for the Algerian Declarations, the Iran-U.S. accord that provided for release of U.S. Embassy personnel held in Tehran, transfer of Iran’s blocked assets in the United States to Iran, suspension of all private lawsuits against Iran and Iranian entities in U.S. courts, and establishment of the Iran-United States Claims Tribunal in The Hague for resolution of all claims by U.S. nationals against Iran and its enterprises. In this and other respects, the Firm provided legal advice to Iran on the crisis in Iran-U.S. relations.
The United States corporations with claims against Iran challenged the Algerian Declarations in the U.S. courts, asserting that the U.S. President had exceeded his constitutional authority in agreeing, without their consent, to dismissal of their lawsuits and nullification of their attachments of Iranian property. The Firm represented the Central Bank of Iran before the Supreme Court in the landmark case of Dames & Moore v. Regan, which upheld the Algerian Declarations against the U.S. corporations’ attack.
Following the Supreme Court decision, the Firm represented the Central Bank and other Iranian government entities in proceedings before the Iran-United States Claims Tribunal in disputes with the United States government itself. These included the unblocking of Iranian assets in the United States and Iranian claims to undelivered military equipment.
Prime Minister Papandreou and the Hellenic Republic (Greece)
The Firm represented Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou in his politically charged lawsuit for defamation against TIME magazine. The Firm also represented the government of Greece in its attempt to extradite a former high Greek official accused of corruption, as well as in a variety of other matters.
President Aristide and the Republic of Haiti
The Firm successfully represented President Aristide, then in exile in the United States, in asserting “Head of State” immunity to defeat a lawsuit for the alleged assassination of a coup leader. The case remains the leading U.S. precedent on “Head of State” immunity.
The Firm successfully brought litigation to recover Haiti state assets looted by the Duvalier family that had been secreted in New York. It assisted the Center for Constitutional Rights in similar efforts on behalf of the government of the Philippines to recover state assets looted by Marcos.
Republic of Chile
During the presidency of Salvador Allende, the Firm represented the Republic of Chile, Chile’s state-owned copper company (CODELCO) and Chile’s development corporation (CORFO). The Firm resigned when the Allende government was overthrown in the September 11, 1973 coup.
The Firm advised the Allende government on the nationalization of U.S.-owned copper mines, and defended Chile, CORFO and CODELCO in subsequent litigation brought by the U.S. copper companies. While litigation over the court-ordered attachment of Chilean property proceeded, the Firm advised Chile and its enterprises on how best to restructure commercial transactions with the U.S. Even though not imposed by the U.S. government as a formal embargo, judicial attachments obtained by the U.S. copper companies posed such a serious threat that the Allende government condemned them as a U.S.-government inspired “invisible blockade.”
During the Sandanista period, the Firm represented Nicaraguan state enterprises in nationalization litigation. It also represented Nicaragua’s Mission to the United Nations.
The Firm represented the Angolan state airline, TAAG, in commercial litigation. It represented Angolan’s Mission to the United Nations.
PLO’s Permanent Observer Mission to the United Nations
The Firm represented officials of the PLO’s Permanent Observer Mission to the United Nations in obtaining a judicial order that prohibited the U.S. government from closing the Mission pursuant to the U.S.’s Anti-Terrorism Act of 1987.
United States Economic Sanctions Programs
The Firm assists numerous U.S. and third-country clients – corporations, foundations, universities, associations and individuals – in coping with U.S. restrictions on transactions with targeted countries. Please see United States Economic Sanctions Programs.
Much of the Firm’s work in the field of constitutional litigation has focused on U.S. government efforts to interfere with international contacts, and punish perceived support of foreign political movements. The Firm’s constitutional litigation has frequently concerned the allocation of foreign affairs authority among the three branches of government. Please see Constitutional Litigation.
International Intellectual Property
The Firm has an active practice in trademarks, copyrights and other intellectual property, with a particular emphasis on the protection of foreign trademarks in the United States. Please see Intellectual Property.
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