Looking more like its old self again
- People in Who’s Who:
- Pending cases as counsel:
- Value of pending counsel work:
- US$35.7 billion
- Treaty cases:
- Current arbitrator appointments:
- 54 (of which 34 are as sole or chair)
- No. of lawyers sitting as arbitrator:
Clifford Chance was one of the first Anglo-Saxon law firms to treat international arbitration seriously. In the mid-1980s, it decided to make it a separate skill set – around the same time as Freshfields. (Legend has it that partners at the two firms conspired a bit over their projects so that neither looked like they were “moving first”).
Clifford Chance’s new department was led by John Beechey, now chair of the ICC International Court of Arbitration.
In the following 15 years, the group went from strength to strength to become a major international arbitration brand – strong in London, New York and Paris. It became something of a university for lawyers seeking to get a start in the field. But a tough financial crisis and the unrelated decision of two key partners (Beechey and Jason Fry) to join the ICC Court for a while left it looking like a shadow of its former self.
Now, though, things seem to be back on the up. Jason Fry has rejoined in Paris, along with a former deputy secretary general of the ICC Court, Simon Greenberg. The firm has also begun rebuilding its investment treaty and Latin American practices. That’s on top of investing more and more in Asia, especially Singapore. Meanwhile, London partner Audley Sheppard, who steered the practice through its leaner times, appears to be going from strength to strength as a practitioner. He’s also one of the most popular speakers whenever he appears at a GAR Live event.
Clifford Chance now operates from 30 countries. For international arbitration, the more important offices are Amsterdam, Beijing, Dubai, Frankfurt, Munich, Hong Kong, London, Moscow, Paris, Singapore, Perth and Sydney. In Singapore, the firm is one of only a few foreign law firms able to offer a one-stop shop – meaning going to court as well as giving advice on local law – thanks to a formal law alliance.
Who uses it?
The wider firm has a great name in banking and finance, leading to some exciting banking-related arbitrations. Otherwise, it’s a pretty mixed bag. Clients include Shell, Total and Eni in a monumental dispute in Nigeria; Raytheon Systems, the US defence contractor; Spanish infrastructure groups Abengoa and Abertis; the French Football Federation; Crédit Agricole; E.ON; Ernst & Young: Sinopec; and Standard Chartered Bank.
It’s been a good 18 months for results. The team won a US$1.4 billion partial award for Shell in that Nigerian arbitration. It also won US$45 million for Abengoa in an ICSID claim against Mexico. Meanwhile, the German disputes team managed to set aside a €220 million DIS award – one of the few times that a DIS award of that magnitude has been overturned.
An area where the team has extra expertise is the Energy Charter Treaty – specifically its relationship with EU law – having worked on some of the first cases to raise the point.
The big news in 2012 was the return of Jason Fry and Ignacio Suárez Anzorena, and the sense that things might be returning to the old Clifford Chance arbitration group.
In 2013, it was the promotion of Simon Greenberg to the partnership (he joined from the ICC soon after Fry) and the addition of two lateral partners in Singapore – Harpreet Singh Nehal and Paul Sandosham – to form a formal law alliance.
Other notable hires included Romesh Weeramantry, who joined as a foreign legal consultant in Hong Kong from King & Wood Mallesons (where he clerked for arbitrator Neil Kaplan QC), and senior associate Sam Luttrell in Perth. Both have a strong academic background: Weeramantry was formerly at the City University of Hong Kong and published a treatise on investment treaty interpretation, while Luttrell is the author of a book that studies arbitrator challenges in commercial arbitration.
And Matthew Newick, a banking litigator with some experience of arbitration, has moved to Hong Kong, where his experience of financial disputes is expected to be in high-demand.
The firm has also picked up a lot of investor–state work of late, much of it on the claimant side. It was invited by EDF to take over the running of a couple of ICSID cases against Argentina, replacing a leading US firm. It’s also acting for Italian power company Enel in a claim under El Salvador’s foreign investment law (concerning the refusal by that country’s courts to enforce an ICC award in a geothermal power plant dispute).
In late 2013, Clifford Chance filed a new ICSID claim against Papua New Guinea on behalf of a development company headed by the country’s former prime minister.
The firm has also continued its work for claimants in other treaty cases against Bolivia, Kyrgyzstan and Egypt.
Away from the coalface, Sheppard and Fry were invited to be part of an informal experts’ group advising the UK government on arbitration policy (Clifford Chance is the only firm to have two members on the group), and Kathryn Sanger was part of the HKIAC’s rules revision committee, which completed its work this year.
International reach, international expertise, international solutions
Our integrated global arbitration practice provides clients with arbitration specialists wherever in the world they need advice and assistance.
Clifford Chance has 36 offices in 26 countries, as well as experience of working in many other countries.
We are able to provide teams with the appropriate country, language and industry experience and expertise to meet the specific requirements of the arbitration.
We have unrivalled insights into the leading arbitral institutions around the globe, including the ICC, LCIA, ICDR, SIAC and HKIAC.
We have a track record of achieving excellent results for our clients, in negotiated settlements and decisions by arbitral tribunals. Our objective is to resolve disputes to our clients’ satisfaction as cost effectively and efficiently as possible.
We have obtained awards of: over £220 million in damages and other monetary relief for a US company; $115 million for a Chinese company concerning iron ore delivery; $1.4 bn for oil & gas clients in a dispute in West Africa; $110 million for a New York investor in Russia; and successfully defended a claim from an Indonesian company against a major European industrial company for $175 m and another against an African bank for $500m.
We are also involved in several high profile BIT and ICSID cases, in Europe, Asia and Latin America. Recently we successfully defended Poland from a claim brought against it under the Energy Charter Treaty and won an award for our client in a claim brought under the Latvia-Kyrgyz BIT.
Wherever you are in the world, turn to Clifford Chance.
Audley Sheppard, Co-Head of the International Arbitration Group
Jason Fry, Co-Head of the International Arbitration Group