IMF says it’s immune to fight against legal fees – again

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The logo of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is seen outside the headquarters building in Washington, United States, September 4, 2018. REUTERS / Yuri Gripas /

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  • Seyfarth Shaw, for the International Monetary Fund, argues immunity blocks tender challenging arbitrator’s decision
  • Lawyer disputing fees argued IMF lifted immunity in legal services contract

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(Reuters) – An International Monetary Fund lawyer told a federal appeals court on Thursday that the organization was immune to a case to have a dispute over millions of dollars in costs heard by a judge legal.

James Newland Jr of Seyfarth Shaw, arguing for the IMF before a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit, claimed that the IMF has judicial immunity from litigation and that the organization had never “expressly waived” such immunity in a legal services contract with one of its outside lawyers. In March, a trial judge dismissed the lawsuit.

The plaintiff, Leonard A. Sacks & Associates, in 2017 filed an arbitration suit against the IMF that questioned the amount the organization had paid him to resolve a construction-related dispute with contractors who had been hired to work at the IMF office in Washington. , DC Leonard Sacks has said in court records that his work has saved the IMF about $ 45 million.

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Sacks challenged in court an arbitrator’s decision to award him approximately $ 39,000 in fees over and above the $ 2.36 million he received in 2016.

Newland did not immediately return a message on Thursday requesting comment. An attorney for Sacks, Donald Spence Jr of Spence & Becker, and Sacks did not immediately return the messages seeking comment.

Sacks had a 20-year professional services relationship with the IMF. He said in court that the IMF, without its contribution, had determined that its fees for legal services on the construction project would be $ 4.15 million. Sacks said he requested an expense report but did not receive one. The IMF ended his contract with him in 2017, according to court documents.

Spence, arguing for Sacks on the DC Tour, said the courts should have a role in reviewing the arbitrator’s fees. The contract at issue, Spence argued, referred to DC law and the rules of the American Arbitration Association, which allow lawsuits to vary or set aside an award.

Sacks had a contractual right to a court review, Spence told DC circuit judges Cornelia Pillard, Laurence Silberman and Karen Henderson. “Without recourse, the contract is essentially illusory,” Spence wrote in a memoir.

Pillard wondered at one point how arbitration could be “binding” on Sacks and the IMF if an award could not be enforced in court. Newland argued that “arbitration is the end, as it should be”.

The case is Leonard A. Sacks & Associates PC v. International Monetary Fund, United States Court of Appeals for DC Circuit, No. 12-7034.

For Leonard A. Sacks: Donald Spence Jr of Spence & Becker

For the IMF: James Newland of Seyfarth Shaw

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