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GAR 100 - 4th Edition

Stephenson Harwood

21 February 2011

New in 2011. Stephenson Harwood launched a standalone practice group in 2008 with the arrival of solicitor-advocate Louis Flannery.

Pending cases as counsel:
125*
Value of pending counsel work:
US$4.8 billion
Treaty cases:
2
Current arbitrator appointments:
4 (of which 1 are as sole or chair)
No. of lawyers sitting as arbitrator:
1

He’s overseen a rise in the firm’s commercial arbitration caseload and has also led it into advising on treaty claims. Away from the coalface, Flannery – who is also course director at the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators and co-author of a well-known commentary on the English Arbitration Act 1996 – was a driving force behind the recent International Arbitration Charity Ball.

The other names to know are Kamal Shah, who joined from Hunton & Williams, and Peter Bennett, formerly of Holman Fenwick Willan.

Network

The firm has six foreign offices – three in China. It is also allied with the Africa Legal Network, a group of 10 law firms in Burundi, Botswana, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mauritius, Mozambique, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. From an arbitration perspective, although there is a Paris office, the key address is London.

Who uses it?

Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation is a client. It used the firm in London court proceedings to resist enforcement of a US$200 million-plus award made against it in Nigeria. The government of Egypt also turned to it for help enforcing an ICSID costs award.

On the investor side, it’s taken over a claim against Kazakhstan brought by a Dutch investor in a bank taken over by the state’s sovereign wealth fund (replacing Clyde & Co).

The firm is known for its work in the mid-tier corporate market, as well as its extensive shipping practice.

Big wins

The firm advised two east African entities, Primefuels and Mirambo Holdings, who won an LCIA arbitration against South Africa’s Sheltam Railway Company in a dispute about shares in the operator of Kenya and Uganda’s railway systems.

Partner John Fordham has helped PDVSA, the Venezuelan oil company, lift a US$12 billion freezing order awarded to ExxonMobil, and the Republic of Bolivia defeat a US$50 million freezing order obtained by Dutch telecoms unit ETI.

Recent events

The firm recruited Peter Bennett as a lateral partner in 2010. It also added two associates, Benjamin Garel and Tatiana Minaeva, to the London office. Garel trained with Shearman & Sterling in Paris and worked for four years at Winston & Strawn in Geneva. Minaeva was an in-house counsel at a Russian real estate developer, and before that a senior associate at White & Case in Moscow.

The team also won a pitch to take over KT Asia v Kazakhstan, beating two other law firms. Flannery and Garel compiled a study comparing the costs of arbitrating at eight major arbitral institutions – the article is available on the GAR website.

The inaugural International Arbitration Charity Ball also took place at the Royal Courts of Justice in October. It completely sold out the 600 seat venue and raised £200,000 for Save The Children.

Client comment

An east African tea exporter, faced with a dispute that might see it permanently expelled from the business, praised the firm’s “24/7 service, superior experience and a very calm and balanced approach to business.”

* majority are shipping matters.

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