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GAR 100 - 5th Edition

Bird & Bird

05 March 2012

Added to the GAR 100 in 2011, Bird & Bird has long had a name for sports and IP, but is now branching out

Pending cases as counsel:
73
Value of pending counsel work:
US$1.5 billion (includes Yukos)
Treaty cases:
3
Current arbitrator appointments:
14 (of which 10 are as sole or chair)
No. of lawyers sitting as arbitrator:
6

Bird & Bird was one of the first firms in the UK to specialise in technology, telecoms and media. Since then, it has gone full-service and, more recently, international. Along the way, it’s also felt the need to develop an ability in international arbitration.

The international arbitration group began to take shape with the arrival of Jane Player, who co-heads the international dispute resolution group, and Sarah Walker in 2002. Both were senior figures in disputes work at Dibb Lupton Alsop (nowadays known as DLA). The merge with London firm Lane & Partners in 2008 provided an extra boost.

As well as more mainstream work, the firm has a pre-eminent sports law practice, spearheaded by Jonathan Taylor, which has represented numerous high-profile names and organisations in contentious work. It has represented the Football League in England and Wales and the International Tennis Federation.

In 2010, one of its partners, Trevor Cook, co-wrote (with Alejandro Garcia, a former Bird & Bird associate) a UK guide to international IP arbitration.

Who uses it?

The firm enjoys a strong client base in the areas of aviation and aerospace, IP and life sciences, IT, communications, media and sport.

One current client is a major European aerospace and defence company, which is retaining the firm on a series of disputes related to a Europe-wide defence procurement contract.

One of the big changes in 2011 – the firm has successfully pitched to work on investment arbitrations. It now has three cases of that type on its books compared with none a year ago.

Network

Having opened an Abu Dhabi office in May 2010, Bird & Bird now spans 23 offices in 16 countries across Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

For arbitration, its main centres are London, Madrid, Stockholm and, to an extent, Warsaw.

In Asia, the firm has a tie-in with Alban Tay Mahtani & de Silva – the office known as ATMD Bird & Bird. It also has good links to India, with a dedicated Indian desk.

Track record

The firm’s most visible successes are often in sports disputes. For example, Jonathan Taylor assisted an athletics association in securing aggravated sanctions against one of its athletes, which the firm says “sets one of the first precedents in the world on this issue”.

The practice won a pitch in an investment law case and is now advisor to a group of foreign investors in arbitration proceedings brought under Energy Charter Treaty against the state.

It also recently helped a leading pharmaceutical company win a major patent dispute that had gone to ICC arbitration.

Recent events

In Paris, the firm hired Annet van Hooft from Jones Day as senior European counsel. In London, Sophie Eyre was promoted to partner. She acted in Michael Wilson & Partners v John Forster Emmott – a leading case concerning privacy in arbitration.

The Paris office saw an increase in its workload while the Stockholm team received instructions in two parallel aviation arbitrations worth over €100 million brought by an airline against engine and aircraft manufacturers. And the Warsaw team was appointed to the permanent dispute resolution panel of the State Treasury Solicitors’ Office in Poland.

Client comment

Stuart Miller, executive director at the International Tennis Federation, says “Jon Taylor is a master at unravelling what appears to be highly complex to identify the nub of the issue [...] his arguments are brilliantly crafted; his advice is of the highest quality and can always be relied upon.”

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