Christopher K. Tahbaz serves as Debevoise & Plimpton’s General Counsel. A litigator and arbitrator with a broad range of U.S. and international experience, Mr. Tahbaz is also a member of the firm’s International Dispute Resolution Group. For more than a decade, Mr. Tahbaz’s practice has focused on disputes in the Asia-Pacific region. Clients in GAR 30 (2019) note that “he was meticulous in addressing all issues and precise in giving direction and counsel,” and in Benchmark Litigation(2019) “exactly the type of guy you’d want on your side in Asia to get through a major mess.”
Mr. Tahbaz is also recommended by Chambers Global (2019), Chambers US (2018) and The Legal 500 US (2018) for his international arbitration practice, with the guides describing him as “smart and talented,” and “exceptional.” He is also a recognized practitioner in China for Dispute Resolution: Arbitration by Chambers Asia Pacific (2017). The Legal 500 Asia Pacific (2017) recommended Mr. Tahbaz and noted that he “is clear-thinking, agile, hardworking and commercial.” Mr. Tahbaz is also included in Who’s Who Legal: Arbitration 2019 where he is named a Thought Leader, and Who’s Who Legal: Litigation 2018 in Hong Kong.
Mr. Tahbaz regularly represents U.S. and Asia-based multinational corporations in commercial arbitration before the ICC, the LCIA and other arbitral institutions. He also represents clients in investment treaty disputes in Asia and elsewhere. Current and recent assignments include representing an Asia-based global manufacturer in the solar power industry in an LCIA arbitration, representing a Japanese pharmaceutical manufacturer in a major dispute arising under a license agreement, and representing leading U.S. financial services companies in arbitration and pre-arbitration advice arising out of transactions occurring in China and Hong Kong.
Mr. Tahbaz was one of the two Debevoise partners who, along with co-counsel from Bae, Kim & Lee LLC of Seoul, Korea, led a team of lawyers who obtained an award worth at least $750 million on behalf of claimants in an ICC arbitration involving disputes between the shareholders of Hyundai Oilbank (HDO), Korea’s fourth largest oil refining and marketing company. In March 2011, Global Arbitration Reviewdesignated this award as “Arbitration Win of the Year.”
In addition to his work representing clients, Mr. Tahbaz regularly serves as arbitrator in arbitrations conducted under HKIAC, UNCITRAL, ICDR/AAA and ICC rules, and he is included in the Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre’s List of Arbitrators, the Singapore International Arbitration Centre’s Panel of Arbitrators, and the ICDR Roster of Neutrals. Mr. Tahbaz also frequently writes and speaks on arbitration and other topics related to dispute resolution.
Among other things, he is a regular lecturer at Kobe University’s Summer School of Asian Law and Dispute Management. Recent publications include “Recognition and Enforcement of Awards,” Singapore International Arbitration: Law & Practice (LexisNexis, 2d ed. 2018), co-author; “Jurisdictional Findings on Provisional Measures Applications in International Arbitration,” Jurisdiction, Admissibility and Choice of Law in International Arbitration: Liber Amicorum Michael Pryles (Kluwer Law International 2018), co-author; “The Development of Arbitral Institutions in Asia,” 13 U. Penn. Asian L. Rev. 102 (2018), co-author; “Investment Treaty Arbitration in the Asia-Pacific,” The Asia-Pacific Arbitration Review 2019 (Global Arbitration Review 2018), co-author; and “Cross-Cultural Perspectives on Effective Advocacy in International Arbitration,” Asian Dispute Review (April 2012).
Mr. Tahbaz co-chaired Debevoise’s global Pro Bono Committee from 2002 until 2012, and he has been active in the New York pro bono community. He served as Chair of the board of directors of New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, Inc. from 2008 to 2010, and he has been a director of the organization since 2000.
He is also a member of the board of directors of Sanctuary for Families, a former member of the board of directors of the Urban Justice Center (1999–2008), and a former member of the Pro Bono and Legal Services Committee of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York. In addition, for many years, Mr. Tahbaz led the team of Debevoise lawyers who serve as class counsel in Brad H. v. City of New York, a class action, now settled, that alleged claims regarding the manner in which the City discharged from custody inmates who had received treatment for mental illness while incarcerated in city jails.
Mr. Tahbaz received his B.A. from Columbia University in 1986 and his J.D. from Columbia Law School in 1990, where he was a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar and served as articles editor of the Columbia Law Review. He joined Debevoise as an associate in 1994 and became a partner in 1998.
- Macau-based Sanum Investments and Netherlands-based Lao Holdings, NV in bilateral investment treaty arbitration claims against the Government of Laos.
- Francesco Becchetti and five other Italian investors in ICSID proceedings against Albania arising out of claimants’ investments in a hydroelectric plant and a media company, winning a historic order of provisional measures suspending criminal and extradition proceedings.
- A major U.S. financial services company in an ICC arbitration seated in Hong Kong, in a dispute worth over US$500 million concerning a significant corporate transaction.
- A Cayman-Islands-based creditor in an ICC arbitration arising out of a borrower’s default on restructured loan obligations incurred by owners of a Latin American food and beverage group.
- An Asia-based global manufacturer in the solar power industry in an LCIA arbitration, involving claims of more than €200 million.
- A Chinese EPC contractor in an ICC arbitration concerning the construction of a coal-fired power generation facility in Central America, with more than US$1 billion at stake.
- A Southeast Asian bank in a post-acquisition dispute, under which the governing agreement was subject to arbitration in the Singapore International Arbitration Centre.
- Hyundai Heavy Industries in an ICC arbitration involving disputes between the shareholders of Hyundai Oilbank Ltd. (HDO), South Korea’s fourth largest oil refining and marketing company, winning the largest ICC award issued at the time and Global Arbitration Review’s “Arbitration Win of the Year” (2010).
- Pre-arbitration advice and claims analyses to Asia-based clients operating in the aerospace, telecom, pharmaceutical, and oil and gas sectors.
- U.S.-based clients in defense of a Section 1782 discovery request in U.S. federal court, in litigation and in arbitration proceedings pending outside the U.S. The proceeding ended with an order denying the request as it related to the foreign arbitration, and a stay of the request as it related to the foreign litigation.
- An Asian steel manufacturer in winning a complete victory in an ICC arbitration, in which claimants sought damages in excess of U.S. $400 million for contract and tort claims arising from a failed M&A transaction.
- Defending a hedge fund manager in AAA/ICDR arbitration, in which claimants sought damages related to the operation of a joint venture formed to market hedge funds in Asia. The representation ended in a favorable settlement for our client.
- Columbia University, 1986, B.A.
- Columbia Law School, 1990, J.D.
- New York
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