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GAR 100 - 5th Edition

Mallesons Stephen Jaques

05 March 2012

The firm scored an important win for a mining investor against India.

People in Who’s Who:
3
Pending cases as counsel:
20
Value of pending counsel work:
US$7 billion
Current arbitrator appointments:
26 (of which 12 are as sole or chair)
No. of lawyers sitting as arbitrator:
4

Mallesons’ international arbitration work began in Hong Kong in the early 1980s, born from the construction practice established by David Bateson and Paul Starr. At the same time, in Sydney, Peter Stockdale developed an arbitration practice based on reinsurance cases. Over the years, Mallesons has built a broader international disputes team on those strong foundations.

Today, the team is seen on cases across the Asia-Pacific region and senior Mallesons lawyers sit regularly as arbitrators. It’s one of the few Australian firms where the international arbitration practitioners prefer, where possible, to conduct the advocacy.

In 2009, the firm achieved something of a coup when it brought in Neil Kaplan as international arbitration adviser. Kaplan is a world-renowned arbitrator, former chairman of the Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre and former construction judge of Hong Kong’s High Court.

In 2010, it added Denis Brock – with 25 years under his belt at Clifford Chance – to the Hong Kong office. He brought a broad-based disputes practice that includes some international arbitration.

Network

Mallesons has arbitration expertise on the ground in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Hong Kong. It has also had a Beijing office for close to 20 years.

Who uses it?

Mallesons is still heavily involved in big construction cases produced and dealt with in Hong Kong: in one current matter, it’s defending the government of Hong Kong against hundreds of individuals with claims. The overall case is worth around HK$1 billion.

It is also advising the Hong Kong Association of Banks on government proposals to establish a Financial Dispute Resolution Centre.

Other clients include Australian miner White Industries in a long-running ICC enforcement battle that played out as an UNCITRAL claim (see “Recent events”, below); a leading European semiconductors company (in a HK$20 million arbitration brought against a Chinese contractor for breaches of a memorandum of understanding); and a Danish manufacturer partly owned by the Danish state in a HKIAC arbitration against a Hong Kong-listed company.

Track record

Mallesons was behind the first ever enforcement of a Hong Kong judgment in mainland China under a new enforcement instrument between the special administrative region and the mainland. Enforcement procedures on behalf of an entertainment company client began in Shanghai in 2010. The firm made the relevant applications in tandem with local counsel before pleading the case in court. After two hearings, the Shanghai Intermediate Court decided to enforce a 48 million reminbi judgment against the defendant.

Recent events

In a significant victory in November 2011, the firm helped White Industries win a treaty claim against the government of India over delays in the Indian court system that left it unable to enforce an ICC award for nine years. Although the amount at stake was relatively small (about US$5 million), it’s an important precedent for other investors frustrate by a host state’s congested courts.

Summing up 2011, Sydney-based partner Max Bonnell says it was busy: “In the past year, we have had a team of five lawyers in Sydney who have worked almost exclusively in international arbitration. That’s almost unheard of for an Australian firm.”

Meanwhile, David Bateson, a Hong Kong partner, says he was particularly gratified by the number of cases outside the construction sector in which the firm was retained.

As the GAR 100 was going to press, Mallesons announced its merger with King & Wood.

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