The firm closed a landmark enforcement case in Dubai and recruited new partners
- People in Who’s Who:
- Pending cases as counsel:
- 500 (including maritime and commodities work)
- Value of pending counsel work:
- US$25 billion
- Current arbitrator appointments:
- 29 (18 as sole or chair)
- No. of lawyers sitting as arbitrator:
Originally one of the City’s big three shipping firms, Clyde & Co has spent recent years doing its best to transcend those beginnings – and “making a huge success of it” according to one UK publication. Some 30 per cent of its revenue now comes from corporate work, and a third of all revenue is generated outside the UK. Industries it has targeted include aviation, energy and infrastructure.
Even so, a large amount of what Clyde & Co lawyers do is contentious work – often fast-paced shipping and commodities disputes – and the firm therefore has one of the largest, if not the largest, dockets of commercial disputes of any firm in the GAR 100. The LCIA has described it in the recent past as its biggest user “by a large margin”.
And it’s not all small stuff. A few years back, Clyde & Co turned up representing Yemen in one of the largest ICC arbitrations of the day (worth around $10 billion). The firm says that large matters – usually related to energy or infrastructure – comprise 35 to 40 per cent of its arbitration activity.
Mergers have expanded its skillset. In 2010, it took over the construction disputes boutique Shadbolt, adding missing ICC expertise. Clyde & Co arbitration partners tend to staff their cases leanly – and use barristers – which isn’t everybody’s cup of tea. But the firm regards the approach as a selling point.
Recently, the international arbitration team has been making a push in Asia, bringing in Stephen Lim (ex-Baker Botts) and Timothy Cooke (ex-Baker & McKenzie) in Singapore.
A merger with Barlow Lyde & Gilbert, famous for its close connections with clients in the London insurance market, took place in 2011.
Clyde & Co has quite the global footprint. Its network now stretches to 27, including offices across the US, and in Dar es Salaam. It is present in Brazil and, through an association, India, and in 2012 added three more offices: Sydney and Perth and Libya.
London, Dubai, Singapore and Hong Kong are the biggest for arbitration work.
Who uses it?
Any number of trading houses, not all of whom the firm can disclose. They include Holcim Trading and, according to court documents, Glencore and Tata Steel.
Elsewhere, Porsche Middle East is using the team on an arbitration in the Middle East and related litigation in India. On the energy side, clients include a pipeline corporation and a subsea engineering firm based in the Middle East that is in a dispute with Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA.
UAE company Arabtec and Malaysian contractor WCT are using the Dubai office for a DIAC arbitration with Dubai developer Meydan over a cancelled racecourse project. (The same case has yielded a lawsuit by Meydan against the arbitrators.)
The Middle Eastern offices enjoy close relations with a number of governments in the region, including, according to unconfirmed accounts, the new Libyan regime. The government of Yemen continues to be an arbitration client.
In Hong Kong, the firm is working for a number of firms caught up in two major infrastructure-related construction disputes.
Notable, rather than flashy, at least when it comes to the amounts involved. One of the teams chunkiest wins on record came a few years ago when it won €45 million for Serbia in a dispute about satellites.
Since then, it has also won US$70 million for energy trading company Vitol in a dispute with an Indian partner.
There have been achievements at the level of arbitration-related litigation. The London office has taken part in a series of leading cases – including the Chantiers de l’Atlantique v GTT matter (about the effect on the outcome of fraud). It lately helped the insurers of Brazil’s Jirau hydroelectric dam win an injunction preventing the dam’s builders from blocking a London arbitration by means of Brazilian court proceedings. (That case concerned a £150 million claim for damage caused by rioting workers.)
The Dubai team has also achieved the first successful enforcement in Dubai under the New York Convention. It persuaded a first-instance court to uphold two DIFC-LCIA awards in favour of its client, South African steel trader Macsteel, in 2011. This was upheld by Dubai’s top court in late 2012.
The London team grew by three partners in 2012 – two as a result of the Barlow Lyde & Gilbert merger (Maurice Kenton and Eurof Lloyd-Lewis), and Devika Khanna as a lateral hire. Kenton headed the arbitration team at Barlow Lyde. Khanna, who was with Freshfields in the Middle East, specialises in energy and construction work.
The firm was gratified to see its investment in additional construction disputes strength in Hong Kong pay off. It has been instructed by a very high-profile client (whom GAR regrets it is unable to name) in relation to one of the largest infrastructure disputes now under way.
The firm held more international arbitration roadshows in the Middle East – visiting Dubai, Doha and Abu Dhabi.
Several clients contacted by GAR said they would recommend Clyde & Co, including a counsel to the Serbian government, Miroslav Paunovic. He was particularly impressed by Clyde & Co’s understanding of “the local circumstances and political sensitivity of the case”. He said the firm had managed the case impeccably: “I am certain the government of Serbia received value for money.”
Clyde & Co's dedicated international arbitration team has more than 200 lawyers, including over 60 partners, with arbitration experience in all major forums. Recognised by GAR as possessing "one of the largest, if not the largest, dockets of commercial disputes of any firm", at any given time we have hundreds of arbitrations on our books with billions of dollars in monetary value at stake.
We advise clients at every stage of the process – from drafting effective arbitration clauses to enforcing arbitral awards. We are adept at conducting large-scale, complex arbitrations on a global scale; swiftly mobilising teams to manage major disputes and regularly working across our substantial network of international offices.
Our experience stretches across all the world's main arbitral centres (including ICC, LCIA, SIAC, CIETAC, HKIAC, DIAC, ACICA, ADCCAC, Stockholm Chamber of Commerce and UNCITRAL, ICSID and Swiss rules); lesser known rules in China, South East Asia and Eastern Europe; and ad hoc arbitrations. We routinely act for and against governments in investment disputes in many of the rapidly expanding and sometimes unpredictable markets of the world.
Our arbitration practice is highly rated in the legal directories, with many team members renowned for their individual expertise. Several of our practitioners are in demand to sit as arbitrators.