The firm’s caseload has risen fast in three years.
- Pending cases as counsel:
- Value of pending counsel work:
- US$2.5 billion
- Treaty cases:
- Current arbitrator appointments:
- 6 (of which 0 are as sole or chair)
- No. of lawyers sitting as arbitrator:
Stephenson Harwood’s stand-alone practice group dates to 2008 and the arrival of solicitor-advocate Louis Flannery.
Flannery, in the new role of global head of international arbitration, has increased the commercial arbitration caseload considerably and also led the firm into investment treaty work. In addition to serving as arbitrator hearing disputes in Cairo, Dubai and Stockholm, he is also course director at the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators and co-author of a well-known commentary on the English Arbitration Act 1996. (He’s also known for planning a good party – he’s one of the main driving forces behind the International Arbitration Ball.)
Other names to know are Kamal Shah, who has extensive experience in Africa and India, and John Fordham, who also serves as arbitrator. Both work from London.
From an arbitration perspective, the key address is London. But the firm has six foreign offices, including three in China and ties with firms in Athens, Bucharest, Kuwait and Indonesia.
It is also allied with the Africa Legal Network, a group of 10 law firms. The network covers Burundi, Botswana, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mauritius, Mozambique, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.
Who uses it?
Working next to one of the world’s stronger shipping and marine insurance practices, Stephenson Harwood arbitrators are used to a lot of marine-related arbitration.
But they also handle work for banks, aviation, insurance, energy, construction, defence and telecoms firms. Many of the cases have a tie with Africa (hence the membership of the Africa Legal Network)
Specific clients include Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (on enforcement proceedings); two East African entities, Primefuels and Mirambo Holdings (in an LCIA arbitration against a South African railway company); KT Asia (in an ICSID claim by a Dutch investor in a bank taken over by the state’s sovereign wealth fund); and Egypt (enforcement of a costs-award).
KT Asia asked the firm to replace Clyde & Co on the banking matters; the claim is for US$1.5 billion.
The firm succeeded on behalf of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation in blocking enforcement of a US$200 million-plus award.
It also won the LCIA arbitration on behalf of the two East African entities, Primefuels and Mirambo Holdings.
A few years ago, partner John Fordham helped PDVSA, the Venezuelan state-owned oil company, remove a US$12 billion freezing order put on it by ExxonMobil. He has done the same for Bolivia (a US$50 million freezing order obtained by Dutch telecoms unit ETI.
The firm represented Costa Rican entity Dowans Holding when Tanzania’s state power company, Tanesco, asked the English court to stop enforcement proceedings pending the outcome of a set-aside action in the Tanzanian courts. The High Court in London agreed, but only after requiring Tanesco provided US$5 million in security.
Partner John Fordham was also instructed by DLA Piper in a row between the law firm and its former co-head of London litigation, Neil Gerrard. When Gerrard left for Dechert in early 2011, DLA Piper commenced proceedings over his departure date and whether he should have had gardening leave. The case settled in December 2011.
An East African tea exporter, faced with a dispute that might see it permanently expelled from the business, praised the firm’s “24/7 service, superior experience and [...] very calm and balanced approach to business.”