New in 2011. Perley-Robertson Hill & McDougall was established 40 years ago in Ottawa as a full-service law firm. Its international arbitration practice is of more recent provenance, though. It began after the arrival of partner Andrew de Lotbinière McDougall formerly of White & Case in Paris, who decided to return to his native Canada. He opted to join the firm at which his father works. Shortly after, the firm further expanded the team, hiring one of Canada’s most high-profile arbitration practitioners, Barry Leon, from Torys in Toronto.
- People in Who’s Who:
- Pending cases as counsel:
- Value of pending counsel work:
- US$355 million
- Treaty cases:
- Current arbitrator appointments:
- 3 (of which 3 are as sole or chair)
- No. of lawyers sitting as arbitrator:
The 50-lawyer firm has since established itself as a useful referral outlet when conflicts are discovered. At times, that’s happened late in the day – on one recent occasion, a construction company became a client on the eve of filing its last substantive brief in a US$250 million arbitration against another contractor. Within a matter of weeks, Perley-Robertson Hill lawyers were at the merits hearing as co-counsel, where they conducted the cross-examination of key witnesses.
Andrew McDougall has kept up his links with White & Case, serving as co-counsel several times. Both he and Leon sit as arbitrator.
The team obtained a significant victory for three leading oil companies in a US$200 million ICC arbitration in Geneva relating to a north African oil and gas company. It has also won arbitrations in Paris and Geneva, one on wrongful termination of a joint venture in the Gulf and the other about whether a global marketing company supplied defective goods.
The firm also obtained a favourable settlement for an international aerospace and defence company in a US$100 million dispute against the government. In that case it replaced another Canadian firm.
Perley-Robertson Hill & McDougall hosted one of the most talked about parties at the International Bar Association conference in Vancouver (whose idea was the lycra-clad contortionists?)
It also advised parties interested in making interventions to two most recent arbitration cases before the Supreme Court of Canada – Yugraneft v Rexx Management (over whether local limitation periods should apply to the recognition and enforcement of foreign awards) and Seidel v Telus Communications (decision pending). In all disputes included in the GAR 100 research, the firm did its own advocacy.
Andrew McDougall and Barry Leon tell GAR that joining the firm has been a true pleasure: “We have the complete and unfailing support of the firm in developing the international arbitration practice and our clients and peers have noticed and recognised us. We are free of the conflicts of interest that often exist in larger firms and we have a lower cost structure and fee structure flexibility. We are able to provide quality partner-level involvement at a sensible cost.”
The president of a Canadian health-and-fitness goods distributor used Andrew McDougall as counsel on an arbitration. “What impressed me most was his preparation and attention to detail – his focused, credible and convincing arguments before the sole arbitrator made me feel confident about the outcome. He kept full concentration and caught his opponent – an experienced Toronto-based lawyer – off guard on more than a few occasions.” Meanwhile, the vice-chair of a Turkish construction company had nothing but good words about the firm. “Our lawyers were methodical, watchful, kind and courteous, as opposed to the other party’s advocates’ more aggressive style. What sets Perley-Robertson apart is that they really assigned the top people to the case and gave it their full heart and attention.” He adds that the team were “particularly good in their understanding of the technical issues”, enabling them to put the other party’s expert witness “on the spot”.