A UK-based firm with Asia-Pacific reach
|People in Who’s Who Legal||2|
|Pending cases as counsel||31|
|Value of pending counsel work||US$19.1 billion|
|Current arbitrator appointments||20 (of which 8 are as sole or chair)|
|Lawyers sitting as arbitrator||5|
Ashurst joined the GAR 100 for the first time in 2015. Based in London since the 19th century, its current incarnation springs from a 2012 merger with Blake Dawson, one of the “big six” Australian law firms. The merger brought together two well-respected litigation departments and provided Ashurst’s 20-year-old international arbitration practice with a mass of work arising from the Australian energy and resources boom. The wider firm is recognised for its expertise in the energy, power and construction sectors, which carries over into the disputes side.
The international arbitration practice is led globally by co-heads Ronnie King in Singapore and Ben Giaretta in London. In 2016, the London team received a boost by recruiting Matthew Saunders, former global head of international arbitration at DLA Piper. Dyfan Owen leads the firm’s UAE dispute resolution team from Dubai, and there are also two Australia heads: Georgia Quick in Sydney and Jeremy Chenoweth in Brisbane.
The key offices are London, Singapore, Sydney and Perth, but the firm has lawyers with arbitration experience across Europe and the Asia-Pacific region.
In recent years, Ashurst has focused on developing its Asian offering. Starting out with Singapore, it now has arbitration lawyers in Hong Kong, Tokyo, Jakarta and Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea. It now has growth plans in the UAE. In total, the firm has 25 offices in 15 countries.
Who uses it?
Energy and resources clients feature prominently. Rusal, the Russian aluminium producer owned by Oleg Deripaska, is a regular client. Other names on the books include UK-listed mining company Avocet; Swiss-based chemicals company Ineos; Australia’s Intrepid Mines and Bluescope Steel; and Tullow Oil.
The firm has also acted for financial services groups Aviva, Credit Suisse and ANZ, hotels group Accor, technology companies Intel, Daewoo and Siemens and the Mitsui and Mitsubishi conglomerates.
It has been advising France’s Eiffage and Spain’s ACS in a €345 million claim relating to a new high-speed rail link between France and Spain.
Among its work for governments, the firm has acted for a Kuwaiti state entity in a high-profile case brought by Dow Chemical and defended Ghana against an IT company’s UNCITRAL claim in The Hague. Recent arrival Matthew Saunders acted for Russia’s Gazprom in various SCC cases against Ukraine’s Naftogaz, worth billions of dollars, while at his old firm.
In 2014, Ashurst helped aluminium producer Rusal settle a pair of LCIA claims that were thought to comprise one of the largest Russia-related disputes ever heard in London. The claims were brought by one of Rusal’s minority shareholders, Ukrainian businessman Viktor Vekselberg’s Sual Partners, challenging the validity of supply contracts worth US$48 billion that Rusal had entered into with another shareholder, commodities trader Glencore.
The firm achieved another settlement the same year for Australia’s Intrepid Mines, which had brought a US$3 billion case against Indonesia’s Indo Multi Niaga, thought to be one of the largest SIAC cases in history. That was worth US$80 million.
Ashurst also defended Kuwait’s state-owned Petrochemical Industries Company in an ICC claim brought by the US’s Dow Chemical over the collapse of a joint venture. The case ended in 2012 with a US$2.2 billion award in Dow’s favour, which the Kuwaiti company paid.
Ashurst’s counsel work in 2016 has included acting for an African mining company in a US$100 million arbitration relating to electricity tariffs in South Africa; and a Swiss multinational in a dispute over a Swedish smart meter project. The firm also kept busy with an LNG price review seated in Paris and other oil and gas work.
Over the year partner Mark Clarke in London moved to White & Case. Jeremy Chenoweth in Brisbane took over as Australian practice co-head after Perth-based partner Peter Ward left the firm to practise as a barrister. Anthony Hague joined as counsel in the Tokyo office.