Lovells' international arbitration group was given independent status in 1999. Since then, it has undergone a few personnel changes - the practice has to co-exist with the firm's powerful construction and insurance groups and at times the relationship has not appeared easy. A couple of senior figures opted to leave. But, as often, appearances turn out to be deceiving. The remarkable thing is how small an impact those moments have had on the practice, as Lovells' excellent performance in one of our league tables shows. The real story, it seems, is of happy clients and steady growth. Credit may also be overdue to the firm for its capability in venues other than London.
- Cases Pending:
- Value of all claims:
- Appearances in Who's Who Legal:
- Treaty cases:
- Arbitrator Appointments (chair/sole):
- 22 (11)
The practice has grown over the past two years, and has also shown an ability to pick up talent from rivals and strengthen in strategically important spots. Since 2006, it has promoted two of its own lawyers to partner - MaryBeth Wilkinson and Karl Pörnbacher - and brought in three partners from outside: Jean-Georges Betto, Dominic Pellew, and Edward Schorr. Even accounting for losses (including, in the same period, Phillip Capper, who was actually head of the practice) there has been a net gain. Further, the lateral moves came from recognised arbitration players - Betto from Derains in Paris, Pellew from Herbert Smith, and Edward Schorr from Brown & Raysman (before that he was with Coudert Brothers). Their arrival left the practice stronger in Paris, Moscow and New York. Now there are some 20 partners who major in arbitration and the network has stakes in the US, Asia (Hong Kong and Singapore) and mainland Europe - especially Germany.
The firm is particularly proud of its German element. The group's chair, Simon Nesbitt, thinks it deserves more recognition from publications such as GAR. "It's one of a very limited number of German offices, at least at the international law firms, which is directly involved in treaty-based cases," he argues. "A number of the partners are also frequently invited to act as arbitrators themselves."
Recently the German legal magazine JUVE gave the German element its Law Firm of the Year Award for Dispute Resolution. "We're also the only German arbitration practice with three leading names in JUVE's arbitration guide", Nesbitt adds. Those names are: Thilo von Bodungen, Daniel Busse and Robert Hunter. The full line-up is as follows:
- London: Simon Nesbitt, Tony Marshall, Michael Davison, Roberta Downey, John Gerszt and Rupert Sydenham;
- Germany: Robert Hunter, Thilo van Bodungen, Daniel Busse, Volker Triebel and Karl Poernbacher;
- Madrid/Moscow/Paris: Jose Luis Huerta, Dominic Pellew and Jean-Georges Betto;
- Chicago/New York: David Lindner, Neal Moglin, Brad Ockene, Edward Schorr and Pieter Van Tol; and
- Singapore and Hong Kong: Mark Lin and Timothy Hill.
Clients we spoke to about Lovells' arbitration service mentioned the usual qualities one hears regarding a high-end firm - phrases such as "creative" and "strategically smarter" recurred. But some added other insights. Jaoquin Peralba, in-house counsel at the Spanish construction firm FW Iberia, said he'd been impressed by Lovells' ability to coordinate across offices. "On my case, they managed to avoid the inefficiencies that you typically get when more than one office is involved."
Another client, an in-house counsel at an engineering firm (who asked to remain anonymous because his story does not reflect entirely nobly on his colleagues), said they'd been talked out of pursuing a dispute by Lovells, even though his senior managers were desperate to prosecute it. That lack of self-interest impressed him. "We wanted to do it, completely, even though we knew there wasn't much chance of success," he says. "Lovells convinced us not to. Therefore they lost some money. But it's a very clear demonstration their honesty."
At Lovells we understand that, for our clients, only results matter. As with the other forms of dispute resolution which we handle, in international arbitration our focus is on being proactive and innovative, and responding speedily to our clients' needs. We see every dispute through the eyes of our clients and consider a range of strategies and outcomes, at a cost which is proportionate.
Lovells' international arbitration group is one of the world's leading arbitration practices. Our team of highly experienced practitioners is at the forefront of developments in the field. We were the first firm to act in an investment protection arbitration involving parallel claims under the Energy Charter Treaty, a bilateral investment treaty, and an international contract. International arbitration demands specialist technical legal skills, wide knowledge of a variety of industry sectors, and a high level of cross-cultural awareness and understanding.
For more information on how Lovells can support your business, contact for example:
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