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GAR 100 - 5th Edition

Fried Frank Harris Shriver & Jacobson

05 March 2012

This US firm is now active in European arbitration and increasingly more high profile in Asia

Pending cases as counsel:
Value of pending counsel work:
US$5 billion*
Treaty cases:
Current arbitrator appointments:
5 (of which 3 is as sole or chair)
No. of lawyers sitting as arbitrator:
* includes one $100bn matter for Russian entity against an international oil firm

Fried Frank’s arbitration practice began to take shape in Washington, DC, in the early 1990s, but it was three wins at the turn of the decade that made it a fixture within the firm (including one for its client, the United Nations).

In one case, the firm obtained an award for specific performance for a major multinational oil company in an UNCITRAL claim against its Turkish joint venture partner. In another, the firm successfully defended the United Nations in an UNCITRAL claim brought by a Canadian company. It also defended a major European aerospace and defence company in a patent infringement arbitration brought by a large US multinational.

The lawyers that worked on those cases – Elliot Polebaum, Douglas Baruch and Joseph LoBue – remain at the core of the international arbitration team. Polebaum is the practice head and splits his time between the US and Paris.

More recently, the arbitration practice has expanded to include offices in Europe and Asia. On opening a Hong Kong office in 2006, it added partner Philip Nunn and of counsel Huen Wong. Wong, who has experience of arbitration in the broader China region, also serves as the firm’s representative for Shanghai.

In London, it hired Nick Cherryman and James Kitching as partners from Bryan Cave. Both trained as barristers. Cherryman, who heads the London disputes team, focuses on work from Russia and the CIS countries, while Kitching covers banking and financial services disputes.

The group’s experience to date is in international commercial arbitration, rather than investment, but Elliot Polebaum, Philip Nunn and Huen Wong also sit as arbitrators – between them they are hearing five cases.

Clients include: Total; France Telecom; General Electric; Dassault Aviation; Hawker Beechcraft; Oranto Petroleum; Russian aluminium producer Rusal (who followed Cherryman from Bryan Cave); and Turkish company Setkom (in recent years the firm has handled a number of cases for Turkish clients and says they were referred by opposing counsel in another case).

It acts for states too; Philip Nunn in Hong Kong was among the counsel representing the Democratic Republic of the Congo in landmark proceedings in the Hong Kong courts relating to enforcement of ICC awards held by US distressed-debt fund FG Hemisphere.

Recent events

Fried Frank defended Hawker Beechcraft in an ICC claim brought by Airbus UK – limiting the client’s liability to £6.65 million, substantially less than the £40 million Airbus had claimed.

Howard Stahl is a recent addition to the Washington, DC, office. He also spends time in the firm’s New York and London offices, where he works closely with partner Nick Cherryman.

Huen Wong took over as chair of HKIAC last May after Michael Moser completed his four-year term.

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