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GAR 100 - 5th Edition

Perley-Robertson, Hill & McDougall

05 March 2012

The Ottawa firm combines proven credentials at an unusually competitive hourly rate and has experience of working on cases not necessarily connected to Canada.

People in Who’s Who:
1
Pending cases as counsel:
3
Value of pending counsel work:
US$550 million
Treaty cases:
0
Current arbitrator appointments:
3 (of which 2 are as sole or chair)
No. of lawyers sitting as arbitrator:
2

Perley-Robertson, Hill & McDougall was established 40 years ago in Ottawa as a full-service firm. Its international arbitration practice is of more recent provenance, though. It began in 2008 with the return to the family firm of Andrew de Lotbinière McDougall, after eight years in the international arbitration group of White & Case in Paris. Shortly after, the firm hired a well-known Canadian arbitration practitioner, Barry Leon, from Torys in Toronto. In January 2012, Leon was named head of the international arbitration group. (Andrew McDougall has decided to return to Paris and his former firm – White & Case – for personal reasons.)

The 50-lawyer firm has established itself as a valuable referral for larger firms affected by conflicts and a safe pair of hands to handle parallel interests. It’s also a good choice for clients who dislike the billing rates of practitioners based in larger cities. It’s shown itself able, several times, to take referrals late in the day – on one 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.

The other senior members of the Perley-Robertson international arbitration group are Aaron Rubinoff – who the firm says will be assuming a more prominent role going forward – and Thomas McDougall QC. All members of the team do their own advocacy.

Andrew McDougall will continue as special counsel to the group, despite moving back to Paris. The group says it may take advantage of his move to shift its focus to more European-related work in the coming year (already, most of its work bears no connection to Canada).

Track record

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 project. 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’s best-selling product was defective.

Another success for the team was obtaining a favourable settlement for an international aerospace and defence company in a US$100 million dispute with the Canadian government. In that case, it replaced another Canadian firm.

Recent events

McDougall’s return to France in January led to Leon being named head of the international arbitration group. A few months before, McDougall was identified as one of the leading arbitration practitioners in the GAR “45 under 45”.

The group assisted in the coaching of the University of Ottawa Law School Vis Moot team, which emerged victorious from the crucible of 2011’s moot in Vienna. It also provided assistance to an all-women Vis Moot (East) team from a law school in Hanoi in Vietnam.

McDougall and Leon were also instructors for the Foundation of International Arbitration Advocacy.

The firm hired two new arbitration associates, one of whom is temporarily in London working in a barristers’ chambers. Both are trained in common and civil law and bilingual in English and French.

The group has been instructed in connection with a US$250 million LCIA arbitration between shareholders in a European real estate project, boding well for its shift in focus to Europe.

In addition, the firm advised intervening parties in two significant arbitration-related 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, over class actions brought under arbitration clauses.

It appeared for the same intervener (ADR Chambers) in the Ontario Court of Appeal in United Mexican States v Cargill, a NAFTA enforcement case that clarified the standard of review Canadian courts should apply when considering whether an arbitral tribunal exceeded its jurisdiction.

In all disputes included in the GAR 100 research, the firm did its own advocacy.

Client comment

The vice chair of a Turkish construction company had nothing but good words to says 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”.

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