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GAR 100 - 11th Edition

Pinsent Masons

04 April 2018

Defending Libya against civil war-related claims

Pending cases as counsel 93
Value of pending counsel work US$13.1 billion
Treaty cases 2
Current arbitrator appointments 4 (of which 3 are as sole or chair)
Lawyers sitting as arbitrator 2

Unsurprisingly for a firm with a history of excellence in construction law matters, Pinsent Masons was named law firm of the year in that discipline by GAR’s sister publication Who Who Legal in 2017. 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. Following the departure of Peter Rosher for Reed Smith in 2017, the Paris team is steered by Frédéric Gillion.

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.


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.

As of 2017, the wider firm includes new offices in Madrid, Dublin, Johannesburg and Perth.

Track record

It obtained 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

As co-counsel with Dentons, Pinsent Masons continues to represent Libya in a pair of ICC arbitrations brought by Turkish contractors for the Great Man-Made River, a major hydro infrastructure project that was disrupted by the outbreak of civil war in the country in February 2011. While both arbitrations concern the same project, one is treaty-based while the other is under a contract.

The firm helped Chinese construction group Sinomach settle a US$106 million UNCITRAL claim against a Philippine state entity over a cancelled railway project.

Frédéric Gillion in the Paris office won a settlement for insolvent Austrian contractor Alpine Bau and its partner in a project to build the Danube river’s tallest bridge. A Serbian state entity agreed to pay the firm’s clients €10.5 million by March 2018 to end an ICC arbitration.

The firm continues with efforts to enforce two ICC awards against Turkish state-owned petroleum company Botas¸ in the Jersey courts. An appeal to the UK Privy Council is pending.

Pinsent Masons hired a trio of partners from Norton Rose Fulbright: Rob Buchanan and Bill Ryan in Australia, and Matthew Croagh in London. Kevin Joyce was another London arrival, joining from Nabarro.

In 2018, it added former Brown Rudnick partner Jean-François Le Gal to work in London and Paris, focusing on energy, infrastructure and technology cases.

The firm also promoted four to the partnership in London – Chris Breen, Gurmukh Riyat, Sofia Parra and Alistair Calvert – as well as Sadie Andrew in New South Wales.

Apart from Peter Rosher’s departure in Paris, the firm lost two partners in London: Richard Twomey left for DWF while Virginie Colaiuta moved to Brown Rudnick.

Client comment

Patrick McKinney, area director for the Middle East at BAM International, says the firm helped his company amicably settle a “substantial case”. He adds that UAE partner Anita Hormis’ “ability to understand the construction process & articulate the issues raised was instrumental to successful resolution of the dispute.”

Logan Hollobaugh, senior counsel at Chicago Bridge & Iron which has employed the firm in two arbitrations, says the firm is “head and shoulders above their competition when it comes to high stakes, international construction arbitration.” He singles out London-based partners Jason Hambury and Gurmukh Riyat as practitioners he’d trust with “bet-the-company arbitrations”.



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