Watson Farley & Williams represented the winning side in one of the big moments of 2010 – the final round of Dallah v Pakistan – in which the UK Supreme Court refused to enforce an ICC award against Pakistan (the firm’s client).
- People in Who’s Who:
- Pending cases as counsel:
- Value of pending counsel work:
- US$5.2 billion
- Treaty cases:
- Current arbitrator appointments:
- 11 (of which 7 are as sole or chair)
- No. of lawyers sitting as arbitrator:
Founded in 1982 as a breakaway from Norton Rose, the firm now has around 100 partners with a focus on energy, transport, international trade and asset finance. In the early 2000s, a team of two partners gave the firm a reputation for punching above its weight in international arbitration. They won a pitch to represent India in its first investment treaty arbitration and later brought in the Vivendi-Deutsche Telekom arbitration. The Singapore office also developed a reputation for expertise in the field. Since then, most of those partners have been poached by other practices – but the arbitration practice they built has endured, now in the hands of the younger partners who worked on those same cases. Recently, the practice has begun to expand through lateral hires.
The practice has a strong presence in South-East Asia (Bangkok and Singapore) and London. The group can call on colleagues in New York and Paris. It’s home to a respected Russian arbitration specialist, Olga Baglay, who works from London.
Who uses it?
The team has worked for the governments of India, Pakistan, Zambia and Bangladesh in the past five years, as well as various banks, energy businesses and metals companies. Vivendi and Trafigura are clients. The firm has also been retained by the Bahamas to advise on its new arbitration legislation.
Dallah aside, the firm helped Hydro Aluminium secure an LCIA award, in a row with Tajikistan (Herbert Smith was on the other side). It defended an Iranian offshore construction company against an ICC claim by an Italian counterparty. The claim had been for US$100 million.
Marcus Gordon became head of international arbitration in Singapore and recruited several senior associates to support his offshore construction, commodities and shipbuilding disputes practice. The firm gained partners in Bangkok (Alan Polivnick and Ratthakarn Boonnua) and in Paris (Eric Diamantis). In London, the team benefited from the arrival of Robert Platt as partner, from energy and shipping specialists Curtis Davis Garrard.
Russian attorney Olga Baglay was a witness in an unusual case before the Court of Arbitration for Sport involving the World Chess Federation. She is one of several lawyers from the firm who are sitting as arbitrators on multimillion dollar disputes.
The big result of the year, though, was Dallah. Head of international arbitration in London, Andrew Savage, led the case, instructing Toby Landau QC of Essex Court Chambers. It’s understood to be only the third time the English courts have declined to enforce an award under the New York Convention. The well-written judgment was welcomed for the insight it shed on grey areas in the convention’s application.