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GAR 100 - 12th Edition

Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner

05 April 2019

The merged firm combines two GAR 100 regulars

People in Who's Who Legal 2
People in Future Leaders 2
Pending cases as counsel 48
Value of pending counsel work US$2.6 billion
Treaty cases 5
Third-party funded cases 1
Current arbitrator appointments 9 (5 as chair or sole)
Lawyers sitting as arbitrator 7

Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner (BCLP) was born in 2018 after a merger between GAR 100 firms Bryan Cave – a US firm particularly well known for M&A – and Berwin Leighton Paisner, which was renowned for its construction and real estate practice. 

The newly formed international arbitration and construction disputes practice boasts more than 100 lawyers worldwide and is organised to focus on commercial, construction and investment arbitration.

As we noted when the firms were included separately in this book, Bryan Cave was founded over 140 years ago in Missouri but didn’t do much international arbitration practice until it opened a London office in the 1980s. Initially focused on commercial arbitration, it was retained by Kuwait and Saudi Arabia to bring claims before the UN Compensation Commission for damage caused by the First Gulf War in the early 1990s.

Meanwhile Berwin Leighton Paisner was the product of a merger in 2001 between Berwin Leighton and Paisner & Co, both of which grew up in London. Historically, both were known for construction disputes although the combined group sought to diversify.

The current, larger, international arbitration group has three global co-heads. George Burn and Richard Davies, ex-Berwin Leighton Paisner, work from London and Abu Dhabi respectively. Burn joined in in 2017 from Vinson & Elkins. Miami-based Pedro Martinez-Fraga rounds out the co-head trio; he led the practice for Bryan Cave. Mathew Rea, who was the other co-chair for Bryan Cave, remains with the practice. He works from London.

Berwin Leighton Paisner was unusual in having its own in-house forensic services group to advise on quantum issues. Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner retains this.


The firm’s arbitration specialists work from Abu Dhabi, Dubai, London, Miami, New York, Moscow, Singapore and Hong Kong.

The firm has a number of other US offices, including in New York and Atlanta, that can be relevant to arbitration but which don’t have a permanent team. This also goes for Paris, Brussels, Beijing and Shanghai.

Who uses it?

Bryan Cave was often to be found working for corporations and high-net-worth individuals linked to the CIS region, including Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska. Another regular client is global technology company Emerson.

Berwin Leighton Paisner’s historical clients include AIG, Arabtec, Barclays, Blackstone, Canary Wharf, Hellenic Petroleum, Lloyds, Qatari Diar, Shell, Sberbank, Standard Chartered, Tesco, Thames Water, The Financial Times, UBS and VTB Bank. It also advised US-based power company AES and Scottish Power, the UK subsidiary of Spanish oil and gas company Iberdrola, in energy-related disputes.

The newly combined practice area boasts a number of South Korean clients in the construction and engineering industry including multiple Samsung and Daewoo and Doosan Heavy Industries.

Track record

Bryan Cave client Oleg Deripaska fought and then settled an LCIA-arbitration over supply contracts worth US$48 billion for his aluminium company Rusal in 2014 – one of the largest Russia-related disputes ever heard in London.

The Bryan Cave team also secured a win for the Dominican Republic in a dispute with a Panama-registered property investor. The investor withdrew its UNCITRAL claim against the state; and Bryan Cave’s client was awarded its costs from the proceedings.

Berwin Leighton Paisner won on behalf of South African financial institution Nedbank against the government of Gabon in 2012. It also helped to enforce a £25 million LCIA award against Gabon in favour of a South African construction company. Full payment was secured.

The team also inflicted one of the largest losses in Russian insurance history, when it helped the local insurer Ingosstrakh recover €75 million from a group of reinsurers, over the collapse of a Russian hydropower plant

It also successfully settled two SCC arbitrations for a Russian manufacturer of air separation equipment.

Berwin Leighton Paisner also helped Russian insurer Ingosstrakh recover €75 million from reinsurers following the collapse of a hydropower plant in Russia.

Recent events

BCLP is representing Rushydro, a Russian state-owned hydroelectric company, in a recently launched US$37 million UNCITRAL investment treaty claim against Kyrgyzstan over the construction of four hydroelectric power plants.

The firm also continues a previous Bryan Cave instruction representing a family of banking investors in their UNCITRAL treaty claim against Colombia.

Meanwhile a current matter – an LCIA dispute over Russian online retailer Ulmart – which is often described as the nation’s answer to Amazon – reached a final award. The other side were ordered to buy out BCLP’s client’s shares in the retailer for US$67 million. 

The team has however seen some departures – perhaps inevitable, given the merger. Notable name Ania Farren left to join third-party funder Vannin Capital and to take arbitrator appointments at Quadrant Chambers. Emma Lindsay, who used to lead Bryan Cave’s New York practice, has joined Withers; and David Robertson (from the BLP side) has joined White & Case in London.



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