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GAR 100 - 4th Edition

Allen & Overy LLP

18 February 2011

If any firm demonstrates the methodology of the GAR 30 ranking (explained more at the end of the book), it’s Allen & Overy.

People in Who’s Who:
8
Pending cases as counsel:
76
Value of pending counsel work:
US$8.3 billion
Treaty cases:
10
Current arbitrator appointments:
36 (of which 15 are as sole or chair)

Its international arbitration practice started gathering serious momentum a little before GAR began, and is only now heading up in the GAR 30 ranking as the spin-off of that success – in the form of merits hearings completed – feeds through.

The current international arbitration practice traces its lineage to arbitrator David St John Sutton, a former partner of the firm. When he moved to the bar in 2001, things passed into the hands of Judith Gill (now a QC), younger partner Matt Gearing and Stephen Jagusch, who joined from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer in Paris.

Today the Allen & Overy arbitration team is one of the biggest in the London market, respected not only for its portfolio of business but also how it approaches its own development. An impressed rival has called Allen & Overy “one of the few firms we see that’s amassing talent at all levels, especially perhaps in the younger generation.” Among the practice’s achievements, it brought the first Energy Charter Treaty claim (led by Stephen Jagusch – the matter settled before hearing).

Two of the partners – Gill and Gearing – edit Russell on Arbitration, one of leading texts on UK arbitration law. David St John Sutton is the editor in chief.

Having built a leading position in London, the practice began expanding internationally in around 2005 (albeit with some caution – an Allen & Overy partner told GAR a few years ago one question the managers of global international arbitration practices face is how many centres of gravity to have). Initially the expansion was in North America but now steps have also been taken in Asia and continental Europe.

Network

The firm has 27 international offices, of which the more important locations, in arbitration terms, are London, Frankfurt, New York and Hong-Kong/China. In 2010 the firm opened four new offices – Doha, Jakarta, Perth and Sydney.

Who uses it?

JP Morgan has been using the team to control fallout from a large Latin American fraud. The aftermath gave rise to two ICC arbitrations in New York and many related lawsuits by bondholders and creditors. Allen & Overy has worked on the file since 2002.

Millicom and AES have used the firm on BIT claims. In investment law, the firm works both sides of the street. Its government clients include Azerbaijan, Peru and the Philippines. The UAE also hired it to defend a matter about a port that began as an ICSID claim and moved to the commercial sphere.

The firm is also, it seems, developing a name as somewhere to go when facing a derivatives-related arbitration.

Big wins

In 2008, a mortal blow in cross-examination delivered by Allen & Overy partner Stephen Jagusch stopped an investment treaty claim against Azerbaijan in its tracks. Such things usually remain in the realm of war stories. This became public record thanks to the denouement, which can be found in full in “Seeing How the Other Half Lives” on the GAR website. But, briefly, both sets of lawyers had to take the witness stand after failing to agree on whether they’d settled the case.

A year ago, Allen & Overy enabled a well-known pharmaceutical business to obtain full payment from a consortium of London insurers in one of the first claims based on a new type of policy sold in the London market using the Bermuda form. According to reports, the insurers paid the full amount claimed – more than £300 million.

The firm also knocked out the ICSID/DIAC claim against Dubai Ports. The claimant, a property developer, was told to pay Dubai Port’s full legal costs.

Recent events

The firm opened offices in Doha, Jakarta, Perth & Sydney in 2010.

A big change in 2010 was the arrival in Frankfurt of Daniel Busse as head of international arbitration in Germany. Busse brought a team of two associates.

In Asia, senior associate Andrew Battison joined the office in Singapore – leaving London – and another associate moved from Hong Kong to Bangkok. The London team recruited an Indian specialist in public international law, Thomas Sebastian, with a view to Indian work. (Sebastian joined from the Advisory Centre on WTO Law.)

The firm also added people with dispute resolution credentials in Spain.

On the work front, a team led by Jan Schaefer in Germany won a competitive pitch to a German energy business, which is expected to include preparation of an Energy Charter Treaty claim. Members of the Hong Kong and London offices found themselves on several derivatives-related arbitrations, including one of the first to go to CIETAC.

For Anthony Sinclair, 2010 saw the release of The ICSID Convention: A Commentary (2nd edition), which he now co-writes with Austrian law professor Christoph Schreuer and others. Andrew Pullen meanwhile was invited to join the European Commission’s panel of experts on how to treat international arbitration within EU rules on jurisdiction. Associate Angeline Welsh received an honour from the IBA for her pro bono work teaching commercial law in Rwanda.

Jeffrey Sullivan in London, Christopher Mainwaring-Taylor in Dubai and Frances van Eupen in Hong Kong were all promoted to counsel.

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