After bouncing back to decent profits, Norton Rose has been on a busy international expansion programme recently, driven apparently by the need to service clients in Asia. That’s seen it complete mergers with firms in resource rich countries such as Australia, South Africa and most recently Canada. In Canada, it’s merging with Ogilvy Renault, another GAR 100 firm (see box for details).
The firm established a standalone arbitration group reasonably recently after recruiting Joseph Tirado from Baker Botts.
The merger partners are still discussing how the new international arbitration practice will be structured, but it will be a fully integrated cross-office affair.
- People in Who’s Who:
- Pending cases as counsel:
- Value of pending counsel work:
- US$12 billion
- Treaty cases:
- Current arbitrator appointments:
- 14 (of which 9 are as sole or chair)
- No. of lawyers sitting as arbitrator:
Who uses it?
Norton Rose’s clients are often banks, insurers, construction companies and energy firms. As the pending cases figure shows, it’s a busy practice.
Among others, the firm is representing Indian technology company Moser Baer in a US$450 million ICC arbitration against Norwegian supplier Rec Wafer. The dispute has also been the subject of court proceedings in London and India (after Moser Baer tried unsuccessfully to stop the Norwegian company from calling in bank guarantees).
Joe Tirado has also been sought out in the public international law sphere to advise a consortium of European banks over multibillion-euro claims against the Icelandic government relating to the country’s financial crisis.
In the 1980s and 1990s, Norton Rose was one of the first UK firms to go international. It’s one of the few London firms with an arbitration team in Athens, as well as the Middle East and Asia. The latest round of mergers with Denys Reitz and Ogilvy Renault and Deacons will mean the firm can call on more than 2,500 lawyers in 38 offices worldwide. As far as ranking organisations are concerned, the Singapore office is the most highly rated for arbitration – one book gives it a top slot and its practice leader Guy Spooner is elsewhere described as “highly competent and persistent”.
The international arbitration practice believes it added 20 lawyers to its arbitration practice in 2010 as part of a “five-year growth strategy” devised by the firm’s overall head of dispute resolution, Antony Dutton. Additions in London include David McKie, a shipping and insurance specialist who joined as a lateral hire from DLA Piper, and consultant Robert Merkin, a professor at the University of Southampton and an author of several books on international arbitration.
Elsewhere, Peter Cash, who led the disputes team at Deacons, moved to Norton Rose’s Singapore office where KC Lye was promoted to partner and Guy Spooner was appointed to the board of directors at the Singapore International Arbitration Centre.
However, the same period included the loss of a small dispute resolution group in Paris who are now the new office of Canadian firm Heenan Blaikie.
Carlos Galdon, president of Spanish renewable energy company Avanzalia, said he recently used Joe Tirado and Matthew Knowles in a “very important” case that “could have affected our very survival.” Galdon was “very impressed” with the speed with which the Norton Rose team got to grips with the case, achieving a final settlement “within weeks”. He says the firm has “outstanding professionals” that he would recommend, “without any doubt”. Another client, whose case also settled, praised what they called “a great team” adding, “the deadlines were always met and the personal interest in the case was remarkable.”