Sébastien Bonnard is the Managing Partner of Hughes Hubbard’s Paris office and Head of the firm’s Europe, Africa and the Middle East International Arbitration practice. As an experienced International Arbitration attorney, Sébastien has served as counsel for private and public operators, and as arbitrator in numerous arbitration proceedings, both institutional (ICC, ICSID, ADCCAC, LCIA, LMAA, etc.), and ad hoc. Sébastien is registered on the list of arbitrators for ICC France. He also represents his clients in post-arbitral disputes (annulment and enforcement of awards). Sébastien’s practice extends to litigation of commercial disputes, liability and industrial risk and alternative dispute resolution proceedings.
Sébastien is particularly active in complex disputes relating to construction, mining, oil & gas, telecommunications, joint ventures, defense, transport and distribution agreements in Europe, Africa and the Middle East.
Sébastien also has significant experience in the negotiation and monitoring of construction contracts (including FIDIC contracts), and the settlement of disputes in relation thereto via adjudication or other forms of ADR. He is Chairperson of a dispute adjudication board appointed in the context of a project for the construction of a nuclear fusion reactor in Europe valued at over €20 billion. He is co-author of “Construction Arbitration: France” in Global Arbitration Review’s (GAR) Know-how Guide (2022 and 2023 editions) and was author of the “Country Q&A: France” in Practical Law Company’s (PLC) Cross-border Constructions and Projects Handbook between 2011 and 2015.
In addition to his active practice, Sébastien has been a lecturer since 2009 for the International Business Law Master 2 program at the University of Paris Saclay.
Sébastien is a native French speaker and is also fluent in English.
International Council for Commercial Arbitration (ICCA)
Comité Français de l’Arbitrage (CFA)
Collège Européen de Règlement des Conflits (CERC)
International Arbitration Institute (IAI)
Recommended par Chambers Global, International Arbitration, 2023
Source commentaries include “Sebastien Bonnard is a highly experienced lawyer with sound knowledge of international arbitration.” and “He is one of the most kind and calm lawyers. He also has very good knowledge, he is a top-class arbitration practitioner”.
Recommended by The Legal 500 EMEA/Paris, International Arbitration, 2022
Source commentaries include: “Sébastien Bonnard is simply exceptional,” and “Extremely efficient in international arbitration.”
Recommended by Chambers Global, International Arbitration, France, 2022
Sources state: “His calm temperament combined with his legal skills ensure that his analysis is always listened to with the greatest attention’”
Recommended by Chambers Europe, International Arbitration, France, 2022
Sources describe him as a “very precise, clear and pleasant lawyer.”
Recognized (Rank 2 – Excellent) by Décideurs Magazine Leaders League, Africa Desk, Best Lawyers for Dispute Resolution, 2022
Recognized by Décideurs Magazine Leaders League, Dispute Resolution, International Arbitration, 2022
Listed as Best Lawyers in France: Arbitration and Mediation, International Arbitration, Litigation, 2019 – 2022
Recognized by Option Droit & Affaires, International Arbitration, 2019 – 2022
Recognized by Who’s Who Legal, Arbitration, 2014 – 2021
Source state: “His calm manner and deep knowledge of arbitration practice are very impressive,” “He is extremely efficient counsel and is always to the point,” “Sébastien has the ability to dive deep in the industrial context of the cases,” and “Sébastien is a very astute strategist and a real asset to have on one's side.”
Co-author, "Construction Arbitration: France," Global Arbitration Review, (2022 and 2023 editions)
Author, "Guerre en Ukraine: quelles conséquences pour la justice arbitrale internationale?" Option Droit des Affaires (June 8, 2022)
Author, “Les lois de police dans l'arbitrage international - Exemples de sentences récentes” / “Mandatory Rules in International Arbitration - The Example of Recent Awards,” 2015(5) RDAI / Int'l Bus. L.J. 453 (with S. Touchard)
Author, “Country Q&A: France,” Practical Law Company Practice Law Company’s Cross-border Constructions and Projects Handbook (2011/2012, 2012/2013, 2013/2014 and 2014/2015)
Author, “Extension of the Arbitration Agreement to Non-Signatories in Subcontracting Relationship: Mere Involvement or Interference?” Les Cahiers de l’Arbitrage / Paris Journal of International Arbitration, No. 1 (2013)
Co-author, “La rédaction de la clause compromissoire dans l'arbitrage CEFAREA,” Revue CEFAREA (Centre Français d’Arbitrage d’Assurance et de Reassurance), No. 16, (2011)
Significant matters as Counsel and Arbitrator
Counsel to a French global automotive supplier leader in a dispute involving multiple state court proceedings and ICC arbitration concerning various breaches of a share purchase agreement related to a carve-out operation concerning core entities and sites of the automotive supplier as well as the implementation of a tier 1 / tier 2 relationship whereby the purchaser would become tier 1 supplier while the seller would become tier 2 supplier.
Counsel to a French Group in a dispute concerning a delay and disruption claim in relation to an EPC and an O&M Agreement for a power plant in Africa (ICC arbitration).
Counsel to the leader of a consortium of contractors hired by an East African State to construct, on a turnkey basis, a wastewater treatment plant in one of the most populated cities in East Africa, as part of the State’s efforts to provide ecological protection to the largest lake in Africa (ICC arbitration, London seat).
Counsel to a Moroccan group in the public urban transportation sector in ICC proceedings (Paris seat, Moroccan law), in a dispute against a Spanish group in relation to the violation of a partnership agreement regarding the operation of a bus network in Rabat.
Counsel to an energy company in an arbitration against the State of Tunisia and a Tunisian state-owned entity in a dispute related to the misappropriation of a portion of the oil production.
Counsel to an energy company in two arbitrations against the State of Tunisia in disputes related to the wrongful withdrawal of two exploration permits.
Counsel to a company in the aviation sector in an arbitration against an African State relating to the performance of a shareholder agreement (ICC arbitration, Paris seat, French law).
Counsel to German and Brazilian subsidiaries of a French water management group against Swiss and Brazilian subsidiaries of an American energy group in connection with the construction and operation of a water treatment plant in Brazil (ICC arbitration, English law).
Counsel to a French investor in annulment proceedings against a UNCITRAL arbitral award rendered in accordance with a bilateral investment treaty (Paris Court of Appeal).
Counsel to an investor in a dispute with an African state in relation to the expropriation of its assets in the aviation sector (ICC arbitration, Paris seat).
Counsel to a company in the aviation industry regarding the enforcement of an ICSID arbitral award rendered against the Republic of Niger.
Counsel to an Ivorian company regarding the enforcement of an arbitral award rendered against a French construction group.
Counsel to a Saudi investor in an arbitration relating to the performance of a partnership agreement over the management of a public cement plant in North Africa.
Counsel to a joint venture against some of its shareholders and directors in relation to the violation of long-term commitments and fiduciary duties (ICC arbitration, Paris seat, French law).
Counsel to a pipeline operator in relation to the termination of long-term agreements (three ICC arbitrations, Paris seat, French law).
Counsel to a company in an arbitration relating to the breach of several contracts in the luxury sector (ICC arbitration, Paris seat, French law).
Counsel to a former partner in a brokerage firm in the space sector in an arbitration against its former partner and the company (ICC arbitration, Dubai-DIFC seat, French law).
Counsel to a world leader in the industrial and military vehicles sector in several arbitrations relating to consultant contracts and representation in North Africa and the Middle East (ICC arbitrations, Paris seat, French law).
Counsel to a listed Australian company in an arbitration concerning the misappropriation of its shares in a mining company in North Africa (ICC arbitration, Geneva seat, local law).
Counsel to an investor in multiple disputes relating to a telecom project in Central Africa (ICC arbitration, ICC ADR mediation, local court proceedings).
Counsel to a Saudi conglomerate leader in the distribution of satellite programs in the Middle East & North Africa region in a dispute with a Qatari operator (ICC arbitration, Paris seat, French law).
Counsel to an African state in a dispute over the termination of mining concession contracts, and a port and rail agreement with a global leader in the steel industry (ICC arbitration, Paris seat, local law).
Counsel to Jordanian and Saudi investors in a dispute relating to a partnership with a public company in the sectors of construction and shipping in North Africa (ICC arbitration and arbitration LMAA).
Counsel to North African state in a dispute over a contract to build a highway (ICC arbitration).
Counsel to world leader in the commercial vehicle sector in a dispute over distribution contracts in Algeria (ICC arbitration).
Counsel to a bank in a dispute over funding for a hospital project in Saudi Arabia (ICC arbitration).
Counsel to a bank in a dispute concerning the involvement of a guarantee by an officer (ICC arbitration).
Counsel to an African government in a dispute concerning a contract for exploration and mining (ICC arbitration, French).
Counsel to a U.S. contractor in a dispute relating to an EPC contract in North Africa for the construction of a gas processing facility (ICC arbitration, French / English).
Counsel to a Lebanese construction company in a dispute over financing and construction of a building project in Morocco (ICC arbitration, French).
Counsel to a French company in a dispute relating to the defense industry (ICC arbitration, English).
Counsel to an Egyptian investor in a dispute relating to a telecom project in Africa (ICC arbitration, English).
Counsel to a construction company in the context of recourse action initiated by a bank guarantee on first demand (ICC arbitration).
Counsel to a manufacturer in the automotive industry in a dispute over the termination of a distribution contract in Algeria (ICC arbitration, French).
Counsel to defendant (Morocco) - Moroccan-Italian bilateral treaty - actions for annulment (ICSID arbitration, French).
Counsel to a U.K. bank in a dispute relating to a privatization operation in Africa (ICC arbitration, French).
President of the arbitral tribunal in an ADCCAC Arbitration Case regarding the performance of a subcontract dispute for the mechanical systems of an airport terminal.
Chairman of the panel (appointed for six years) which adjudicates the disputes arising under the Building Contracts signed between the Contractors and Fusion for Energy (F4E) in charge of the construction of the USD 20 billion ITER project (35 nations are collaborating to build in Southern France the world's largest tokamak, a magnetic fusion device that has been designed to prove the feasibility of fusion as a large-scale and carbon-free source of energy based on the same principle that powers our Sun and stars).
Co-arbitrator in a dispute between the main shareholders of a Moroccan renewable energy company and an American investment fund regarding a breach in their shareholders’ agreement (ICC Arbitration, English).
Sole arbitrator appointed by a West African state court in a dispute relating to the construction by a Middle Eastern company of a facility in West Africa (ad hoc arbitration, English).
Co-arbitrator in a dispute between a European company and a North African State relating to the construction of a water plant (ICC arbitration, English).
Co-arbitrator in a dispute relating to the construction of an infrastructure in the Middle East (ICC arbitration, English).
Co-arbitrator in a dispute between a North African company and a French company relating to the termination of a long-term distribution contract (ICC arbitration, French).
President of the arbitral tribunal in a dispute between an Austrian company and Saudi shareholders relating to the performance of a share purchase agreement regarding an Omani company and a bank guarantee (ICC Arbitration, English).
Co-arbitrator in a dispute between a French company and an American company relating to the construction of a factory (ICC Arbitration, English).
Emergency Arbitrator in a dispute between a Belgian and a German company relating to the acquisition of petrochemical industry activity (ICC Emergency Arbitration, English).
Co-arbitrator in a dispute between a French company and a Serbian company relating to the performance of a sale agreement and a bank guarantee (ICC Arbitration, English).
President of the arbitral tribunal in a dispute between an Italian company and an Algerian company relating to the performance of a project management contract (ICC arbitration, French).
Sole arbitrator in a dispute between two French companies relating to the performance of a sales agreement in the aeronautics sector (ICC arbitration, French).