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GAR 100 - 13th Edition

Withers

23 April 2020

Defending Ukraine and bringing a claim against Morocco

People in Future Leaders 2
Pending cases as counsel 40
Value of pending counsel work US$4.8 billion
Treaty cases 4
Third-party funded cases 4
Current arbitrator appointments 1 (1 as chair or sole)
Lawyers sitting as arbitrator 1

NEW ENTRY

Founded in 1896, Withers has long been known for its work for high-net-worth individuals. It was less well known for international arbitration before 2014, when it established a dedicated group in this area for the first time.

Two partners in London lead the group: Hussein Haeri and Eleni Polycarpou. Haeri joined in 2014, having previously worked at Eversheds and Latham & Watkins, bringing experience in public international law and investment arbitration.

Polycarpou has been at Withers for over 13 years and often acts for high-net-worth Ukrainian or Russian individuals in joint-venture disputes. She also has a specialist practice advising on art disputes, recently acting in an LCIA case over the ownership a Monet painting.

Other partners to know in London are Tatiana Menshenina, who joined in 2015 after leading the CIS practice at Simmons & Simmons; Peter Wood, the firm’s global head of disputes, whose practice spans commercial arbitration and insolvency; and Roberto Moruzzi. Indian practitioner Aniruddha Rajput also joined in London as a consultant in 2018.

The practice further expanded in 2018 with hires in three cities: Cristina Pagni arrived in Milan; Emma Lindsay joined in New York from Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner; and Soo Khim Keoy joined in Hong Kong from Baker McKenzie.

The firm also has a team in Singapore featuring partners Chia Ho Choon, Deborah Barker SC and Ushan Premaratne.

Network

The arbitration group has people in London, Milan, New York, Hong Kong and Singapore. The wider firm has offices in various locations including Geneva, San Francisco, Los Angeles, the British Virgin Islands, Tokyo and Sydney.

Who uses it?

The firm is tight-lipped about its private clients but they include various prominent high-net-worth individuals and investors in the arts.

Energy companies have used the firm to bring investment treaty claims. Governments that have turned to the firm for advice include Ukraine, Jersey and the British Virgin Islands.

Track record

Withers helped Italian construction company Gemmo win a €6 million award in a commercial arbitration over a Libyan hospital project disrupted by the country’s civil war. The firm successfully applied to a court at the arbitral seat in Benghazi for the default appointment of the respondent’s arbitrator.

The firm represented West Bank Demerara Gold, a special purpose vehicle owned by a listed gold mining company, in US$22 million LCIA arbitration concerning mining licenses and permits in Guyana which reached a favourable outcome for the company.

Recent events

The firm teamed up with Baker McKenzie and Al Tamimi & Company to assist a division of Samsung Electronics in a dispute in the UAE, persuading the Dubai Court of Cassation to revive a US$23 million ICC award that had been set aside by a lower court.

Withers is representing Ukraine’s road agency in a US$66 million ICC dispute with an Italian construction company over a road repair and construction contract.

On the claimant side, a German scrap metal recycler that alleges it was targeted by a Moroccan export ban has instructed the firm in its €60 million ICSID claim against the state.

Argentine footballer and Juventus striker Paulo Dybala instructed the firm in an ICC claim brought by his former agent over image rights.

Former ICC deputy counsel Sherlin Tung joined the firm as partner in Hong Kong from CMS Hasche Sigle.

Client comment

The founder of a company that is using Withers in an investor-state dispute says that the firm has “impressed us greatly with their knowledge, expertise and experience. They have efficiently, effectively and professionally managed the entire process including the involvement of litigation funders and expert witnesses.”

He singles out the “skills and abilities” of Haeri in particular, and concludes, “We highly recommend Withers.”

Insight

Reviews

Regional analysis from arbitrators around the globe, focussing on key developments in specific industry areas and jurisdictions.

Meaar 2020 reviews banner 20x5

The Middle Eastern and African Arbitration Review 2020

Highlights

AfCFTA and the Upcoming Protocol on Investment: What Can Investors Expect?

Théobald Naud, Maxime Desplats and Ophélie Divoy

DLA Piper

Analysing Liquidity: When the State of Matter matters to Expert Valuers in Damages Assessments

Jonathan Ruffell, Steve Harris and James Church-Morley

FTI Consulting