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GAR 100 - 5th Edition

Chaffetz Lindsey

05 March 2012

This Clifford Chance offshoot is a mere two years old but already impresses with its client roster – which now includes governments

Who’s Who names:
David Lindsey and James Hosking

Based in New York, this boutique was born in May 2009 when Peter Chaffetz, Clifford Chance’s global head of litigation, and David Lindsey, co-head of the Americas international arbitration group, decided to break away. “The key drivers were wanting to rid ourselves of the conflicts and fixed cost structures that come with a full-service international law firm,” Lindsey says. The boutique won “Small Firm of the Year” at the 2011 GAR Awards.

Today, Lindsey and younger partner James Hosking spearhead the international arbitration work while Chaffetz and others focus more on insurance, reinsurance and securities disputes, including arbitration in those areas. Lindsey is an active promoter of New York as an arbitral venue and a founding member of the New York Arbitration Club. Hosking, a New Zealander, recently co-authored the first stand-alone commentary on the ICDR rules. Both have featured in GAR’s “45 under 45”, a list of the leading younger practitioners in the field (Lindsey in 2006 and Hosking in 2011).

The firm is home to some experienced senior associates, such as Yasmine Lahlou. Formerly of Castaldi Mourre in Paris, she has a French-Moroccan background and is fluent in English, French, Italian and Arabic. She co-chairs the ABA International Law Section’s Middle East committee. There are now 10 associates in all.

Who uses it?

AEI and AES are both long-term clients of members of the firm. Among other matters, AES is now using Chaffetz Lindsey for an ICSID claim against Argentina (proceedings suspended) and an ad hoc arbitration in India with state-owned utility Gridco.

Brazil’s Petrobras is another prominent name on its books, as are South Korean construction group Samwhan Corporation, Barbados’ Concorde Bank and AIG. Unusually, the firm was lead counsel to the Iranian government at the Iran-US Claims Tribunal in The Hague – a rare instance where the Islamic Republic has turned to US lawyers. Liberia is also using the firm to defend an ICSID claim.

It’s also a useful referral source for US and non-US firms alike, as well as a decent option to be co-counsel, when, as the firm puts it, “you want international arbitration experts but don’t want to engage a big firm that will dominate the matter.”

Track record

One of Chaffetz Lindsey’s European clients recently won US$130 million. Impressively, the New York firm was brought in late to the dispute – over a licensing agreement. A multinational was on the other side. Chaffetz Lindsey handled all the New York law aspects of the dispute.

Recent events

The firm welcomed two new senior associates with investment arbitration expertise in 2011: Jennifer Gorskie and Matthew Draper. Gorskie joined from Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton in New York, where she worked on the ETI v Bolivia dispute at ICSID. Draper is formerly of WilmerHale. They’re both active on committees and task forces.

In March 2011, Yasmine Lahlou was selected for an ABA leadership visit to Jordan and Lebanon to develop links with their national bar associations. A few months later she won the ABA’s Outstanding Policy Award for her committee’s work examining efforts by individual US states to prevent courts from applying shariah or international law.

Meanwhile, David Lindsey was hired by Cleary Gottlieb, Torys and Norton Rose to appear as an expert witness on US arbitration law in the Nortel bankruptcy proceedings raging in the US and Canadian courts – where more than US$5 billion is at stake.

In June 2011, one of the firm’s clients won damages and costs in a post-M&A dispute over a power plant in Pakistan. The case was heard in Singapore under SIAC rules and involved parallel litigation in Singapore, Pakistan and the UK.

The firm has also picked up new instructions from a group of Brazilian companies facing an ICC arbitration and related litigation in São Paulo as well as an application for discovery in the US courts under section 1782; a Korean construction company in an ICDR case about a project in Afghanistan; a Middle Eastern vehicle dealer in a Tokyo-seated arbitration with an Asian carmaker; and a European investor in a brewing investment dispute with Venezuela.

It also won a pitch to represent the government of Liberia in a US$750 million ICSID claim by mining investor Diamond Fields Liberia and another state in a US$2.6 billion multi-jurisdictional litigation that may eventually include arbitration.

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