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GAR 100 - 10th Edition

Pinsent Masons

10 March 2017

Won a big award against the Maldives

People in Who’s Who Legal 2
Pending cases as counsel 80
Value of pending counsel work US$11.4 billion
Treaty cases 3
Current arbitrator appointments 5 (of which 3 are as sole or chair)
Lawyers sitting as arbitrator 4

Pinsent Masons made its first appearance in GAR 100 in 2015. Unsurprisingly for a firm with a history of excellence in construction law matters, it has been named law firm of the year in that discipline by GAR’s sister publication Who Who Legal. Its international arbitration practice had its roots in large-scale infrastructure projects, including the Channel Tunnel, but has since expanded into energy, technology, financial services and insurance disputes.

The late Tony Bunch was a member of the advisory committee that reported on the draft of the UK Arbitration Act 1996. The firm also helped the Dubai International Arbitration Centre in the revision of its rules and maintains close ties with other major centres around the world.

Mark Roe heads the international arbitration practice from the London office, where most of the team is based. The Paris team is headed by Peter Rosher, who joined from Clifford Chance in 2013. The arrival of Peter Megens in Melbourne in 2015 has brought added infrastructure expertise – he joined from King & Spalding in Singapore and also worked at King & Wood Mallesons.

Network

Apart from London and Paris, Asia is a hub – with Mohan Pillay leading the work in Singapore after his firm was absorbed by Pinsent Masons in 2007. There are also arbitration partners in Dubai, Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai and Melbourne, while others are based in Istanbul, Munich, Manchester and Edinburgh.

Track record

One recent success was obtaining a US$270 million award for Indian infrastructure group GMR in 2016 in a dispute with the Maldives over the cancellation of a project to modernise an international airport. The tribunal that heard the case was chaired by Lord Hoffmann.

Pinsent Masons also defended the UK Home Office in a politically charged LCIA dispute with US defence contractor Raytheon over an electronic border control system. Although a tribunal ordered the UK to pay £224 million, Pinsent Masons persuaded the High Court in London to overturn the award because of serious irregularities. The dispute eventually settled with a reported £150 million payout to Raytheon in 2015.

Pinsent has also represented Fujitsu in a £700 million arbitration against the UK government relating to a failed IT system, in which DLA Piper acts for the UK.

There have been other successes for Qatari clients in five related LCIA cases worth a combined US$75 million. Four of the cases were discontinued and, in the remaining one, Pinsent Masons obtained security for costs totalling £1 million.

Recent events

Besides the win in the Maldives case, the firm obtained a series of good results in arbitration-related court proceedings over the past year. In Jersey, it persuaded a court to enforce two ICC awards against shares held by Turkish state-owned petroleum company BOTAŞ – trouncing arguments that they benefited from sovereign immunity.

In London, it convinced a court to refuse an application for a freezing order made by Swiss metals trader Gerald Metals against a trustee in support of an LCIA arbitration.

In Hong Kong, it persuaded a court to uphold a client’s award after the opposing party failed to prove claims of fraud.

The firm showed its expertise in the tech sector when it teamed up with Queen Mary’s School of International Arbitration to produce the seventh survey conducted by the university and the first to focus on exclusively on how businesses view the use of international arbitration to resolve technology disputes.

Partner Meriam Al-Rashid left the firm for Dentons, taking an ICSID case against Egypt with her. Dubai-based construction disputes specialist Björn Gehle left to join Reed Smith.

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