The practice has suffered some significant departures
|People in Who’s Who Legal||4|
|Pending cases as counsel||63|
|Value of pending counsel work||US$39 billion|
|Current arbitrator appointments||
20 (of which 6 are as sole or chair)
|Lawyers sitting as arbitrator||6|
Eversheds Sutherland’s international arbitration practice has its roots in the public international law work of legacy firm Frere Cholmeley. In the early 1980s, one of that firm’s founding partners, Rodman Bundy, began to represent states in boundary disputes at the International Court of Justice. Iran and its national oil company became regular clients, including for matters at the Iran-US Claims Tribunal, and that platform led to more general commercial arbitration work, particularly oil and gas and construction cases.
With the arrival of David Sellers as a partner, Bundy and his team in Paris worked on many of the well-known nationalisation and lex petrolea cases of the decade and a succession of famous ICJ cases going into the 1990s. After Frere Cholmeley merged with Eversheds in 1998, the practice took on more commercial arbitration and expanded its PIL work into ICSID cases.
In London, arbitration work started coming in more frequently around 2009, as a series of mergers expanded Eversheds’ reach in Europe and Asia. It began to pull together the various strands of its arbitration work, appointing Zurich-based partner Claudius Triebold to head the firm-wide international arbitration group in 2010. Rising star Will Thomas in Paris took over the role three years later.
But there have been significant changes to the practice. In early 2017, the firm merged with US firm Sutherland Asbill & Breenan. One year earlier, Will Thomas left the firm for Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer in London, while Stuart Dutson (who had joined from Linklaters in 2009 and been instrumental in growing the commercial arbitration portfolio) left the London office to become practice head at Simmons & Simmons. Meanwhile Loretta Malintoppi, a veteran of the PIL practice, left to become an arbitrator at 39 Essex Chambers.
The arbitration group is now co-led by Rodman Bundy in Singapore and David Sellers in Paris.
The key offices are Singapore (where Bundy relocated in 2013), Paris, London, Zurich and Geneva, though there are also arbitration-literate partners in Hong Kong, Dubai, Doha, Milan, Stockholm, Vienna, Munich, Brussels, Budapest, Madrid, Warsaw, Riga and Helsinki.
The wider firm also has capabilities in Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Iraq (in Baghdad and the capital of the Kurdistan region, Erbil).
Who uses it?
Recent years have seen the group strike a roughly 50:50 balance between acting for states and investors.
The firm is popular with governments of all types. Iran, Colombia, Yemen, Libya, Indonesia, Egypt and Brunei are all clients. Sudan used it for high-profile proceedings against the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, which redrew the boundary of the oil-rich Abyei region. In addition, Peru, India, Cambodia, East Timor and Slovenia have also used the firm on sensitive state-to-state disputes, while the Polish State Treasury used it in an ICC matter.
As for private clients, BAE Systems, Eni, Exxon, Heinz, Marubeni, Michelin, Orange, Royal Dutch Shell, Samsung, Total and Vodafone have all used the firm.
Eversheds Sutherland also has some unusual enforcement cases. The firm has helped Russian businessman Nikolai Maximov in his efforts to enforce a Russian arbitral award worth US$280 million against Novolipetsk Steel.
The firm scored a tremendous result for Iran in 2014, helping the state win its first-ever investment treaty arbitration. A tribunal threw out a US$600 million claim by Turkish mobile operator Turkcell on the basis that no qualifying investment had been made, and ordered the claimant to pay over €1 million in costs.
Before the merger, Eversheds also acted for Iran Electronic Development Company in a related US$500 million ICC claim by Turkcell’s local subsidiary, which was thrown out in 2012. The firm continues to act for Iran in a number of significant claims at the Iran–US Claims Tribunal, including a mammoth case concerning military sales contracts signed by the Shah of Iran before he was deposed in the country’s 1979 revolution.
Another success saw Dubai-based drilling contractor Global Petro Tech win the dismissal of all claims in a SIAC arbitration brought by Chinese and Singaporean companies.
A London team helped Russian businessman Vitaly Smagin win US$84 million in an LCIA case against Russian ex-politician Ashot Yegiazaryan in a dispute over a Moscow mall.
As for state-to-state work, Bundy was part of the advocacy team that helped Peru win much of what it wanted in a maritime boundary dispute with Chile at the ICJ in 2014. A year earlier, he was part of a co-counsel team that helped India successfully defend its right to build a hydroelectric plant on the Kishanganga river in Kashmir.
In 2015, the firm helped Egypt to settle a trio of claims brought by a Jordanian investor Ossama Al Sharif over investments in ports and customs operations. The terms of the settlement are confidential.
Besides the departures mentioned above, two partners joined in London: Jonathan Leach, former head of the South East Asia disputes practice at Hogan Lovells, and Jonathan Douglas, former managing partner of disputes at Nabarro.
The firm failed to persuade the High Court in London to interfere with an UNCITRAL tribunal’s decision to reject corruption allegations brought by the National Iranian Oil Company (Eversheds’ client) against the UAE’s Crescent Petroleum. A final award in the multibillion-dollar arbitration is pending.
Bundy helped East Timor to settle a sensitive inter-state dispute with Australia, in which it was alleged that the negotiation of a maritime treaty was tainted by espionage conducted by the Australian security services. The case was being heard at the Permanent Court of Arbitration but has been withdrawn as part of wider efforts between the two states to negotiate a permanent maritime boundary.
He continues to act for India in a diplomatically sensitive arbitration with Italy over the shooting of Indian fishermen by Italian marines; and for Slovenia in a fraught border arbitration with Croatia that was rocked by revelations of ex parte communications by one of the arbitrators.
One client praises Singapore-based partner Iain Black for his work on a construction case: “Iain was extremely helpful, not only in preparation of submissions but also in locating technical experts. I have to say we would have had extreme difficulty with this case were it not for Iain’s assistance.”
Marubeni has also praised the firm for work on an LCIA case. “Despite our team’s lack of experience in arbitration processes, Eversheds lawyers have guided us professionally and with a clear client focus on all matters,” a spokesperson said.