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GAR 100 - 12th Edition

Ashurst

05 April 2019

Secured a good result for Petrobras in a billion-dollar dispute in Nigeria

People in Who's Who Legal 2
Pending cases as counsel 83
Value of pending counsel work US$23.7 billion
Treaty cases 2
Third-party funded cases 0
Current arbitrator appointments 5 (6 as chair or sole)
Lawyers sitting as arbitrator 3

Ashurst joined the GAR 100 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 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 by Matthew Saunders in London, former global head at DLA Piper, who joined in 2016. He took over from former co-chairs Ben Giaretta, who left the firm to join Mishcon de Reya in late 2017, and Ronnie King, who has moved from London to manage the Singapore office.

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.

In February 2018, Ashurst hired a new head of international arbitration in Paris: Emmanuelle Cabrol, who joined from Herbert Smith Freehills.

Network

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 developed its Asian offering. Starting out with Singapore, it now has arbitration lawyers in Hong Kong, Tokyo, Jakarta and Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea. In total, the firm has 25 offices in 15 countries.

Who uses it?

Energy and resources clients feature prominently, among them Russian aluminium producer Rusal, Emperor Mines, First Quantum Minerals, Toshiba, Marubeni, Unión Fenosa Gas, Ineos, Tullow Oil and Total. It has also acted for BHP Billiton, E.ON and Premier Oil. The firm is especially busy in the gas sector on project and gas pricing disputes.

In the construction sector, it has acted for Hyundai Engineering & Construction, Daewoo and Siemens.

The firm has also acted for financial services groups Credit Suisse and ANZ, hotels group Accor, and telecoms groups Intel, Atlantic Telecom, Thuraya and Arabsat.

State-owned clients of note include Indonesia’s Pertamina; and Kuwait’s Petrochemical Industries Company (in a multibillion-dollar dispute with Dow Chemical). It has also defended Ghana against an IT company’s UNCITRAL claim in The Hague. At his former firm, Saunders acted for Russia’s Gazprom in SCC cases against Ukraine’s Naftogaz, worth tens of billions of dollars.

Track record

In 2014, Ashurst helped aluminium producer Rusal settle a pair of LCIA claims that were among the largest Russia-related disputes heard in London at that time. One of Rusal’s minority shareholders brought the claims to challenge the validity of supply contracts worth US$48 billion that Rusal had entered into with 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.

Recent events

Together with Nigerian firm Aelex, Ashurst has been representing Brazil’s Petrobras in a US$1.1 billion dispute with Norway’s Statoil over Nigeria’s largest deepwater oilfield. In April 2018, Petrobras and its partner Chevron obtained an award upholding an expert determination that Statoil’s share in the oilfield should be reduced by more than 5%.

The firm also helped a Swiss multinational settle a €130 million SCC dispute relating to the implementation of a Swedish smart meter project, two days before the final award was due.

Client comment

A client based in Asia praised the firm’s global network and considerable experience with construction projects, calling Singapore partner Rob Palmer “the best international arbitration lawyer in Asia”.

Wataru Shimono of Japanese construction company Chiyoda says Palmer demonstrated “cool judgement” and “distinguished leadership” when he defended a claim for liquidated damages.

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