Won a high-profile victory for Raytheon against the UK government
|People in Who’s Who Legal:||9|
|Pending cases as counsel:||142|
|Value of pending counsel work:||US$42 billion|
|Current arbitrator appointments:||76 (of which 48 are as sole or chair)|
|Lawyers sitting as arbitrator:||24|
Clifford Chance was one of the first Anglo-Saxon law firms to take international arbitration seriously. In the mid-1980s, it decided to make it a separate skill set – around the same time as Freshfields (rumour has it that partners at the two firms conspired a bit over their projects so that neither looked like they were “moving first”).
The new department was led by John Beechey, who went on to become chair of the ICC International Court of Arbitration (he steps down from that role in June 2015).
Over the next 15 years, the group became 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 departures of two key partners (Jason Fry in 2007 and Beechey in 2009) for the ICC Court for a while left the group looking a little lean.
However, a series of hires in the past couple of years have reinvigorated the group. Jason Fry rejoined the Paris office in 2012 to co-lead the practice, following his five-year stint as secretary general of the ICC Court. A former deputy secretary general of that institution, Simon Greenberg, also joined in Paris and was rapidly promoted to partner.
The firm also began rebuilding its investment treaty and Latin America practices with the return of Argentine practitioner Ignacio Suárez Anzorena in Washington, DC. He rejoined the firm in 2012, after three years at Chadbourne & Parke.
That’s on top of investing more in Asia, especially Singapore where the firm formed an alliance with local boutique Cavenagh Law in 2012. That same year, Clifford Chance was one of the first foreign firms to obtain approval to open an office in Seoul.
The practice’s Asia–Pacific reach was further strengthened in 2013 with the hire of investment treaty specialist Romesh Weeramantry in Hong Kong, who joined as a foreign legal consultant; and commercial arbitration practitioner Sam Luttrell in Perth.
London-based partner Audley Sheppard, who steered the practice through difficult times, continues to co-head the group alongside Fry. Other names to know in London are Rob Lambert, Alex Panayides and Marie Berard.
Clifford Chance now operates from 26 countries. For international arbitration, the most important offices are London, Paris, Hong Kong and Singapore, with other practitioners stationed in Amsterdam, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Munich, Madrid, Milan, Rome, Moscow, Dubai, 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; EY: Sinopec; Standard Bank of South Africa and Standard Chartered Bank.
The firm has also picked up a lot of investor-state work in recent years, 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 has also acted for Italian power company Enel in a claim against El Salvador; and is bringing an ICSID claim against Papua New Guinea on behalf of a development company headed by the country’s former prime minister.
A rare state client is São Tomé and Príncipe, as respondent in a case filed by Malta over the detention of an oil tanker in 2013 on smuggling charges. The US$15 million claim is being heard under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.
It’s been a good few years for results. In 2013, the team won a US$1.4 billion partial award for Shell and its consortium partners in an arbitration against Nigeria’s National Petroleum Corporation. The firm is now fighting to lift a Nigerian court injunction to allow Shell to proceed with the arbitration, in which it seeks more than US$3 billion.
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.
In 2013, the firm also secured an award of over US$100 million for French bank BNP Paribas in its long-running dispute with Basic Element Group, owned by Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska.
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 2014 was partner Rob Lambert’s win for US defence contractor Raytheon Systems in its LCIA claim against the UK Home Office over the cancelled e-borders project. The US company was awarded £224 million after the tribunal dismissed all of the UK’s claims.
The firm achieved another win for Latvian businessman Valeri Belokon in an investment treaty claim against Kyrgyzstan. Belokon, who is also president of Blackpool Football Club, was awarded US$16.5 million over the state’s treatment of a bank that he owned.
Meanwhile, in the Papua New Guinea claim mentioned above, the firm cleared the first hurdle in defeating a bid to have the claim summarily dismissed. An ICSID tribunal chaired by the US’s Gary Born said the claim raised “novel issues of law” that deserved a full hearing.
Late 2014 also saw the firm secure a US$280 million settlement for Italian-owned Enel Green Power in an eight-year dispute with El Salvador over control of a geothermal power producer. Ignacio Suárez Anzorena led the work on the case, which had spawned ICC, ICSID and French court proceedings.
On the personnel front, 2014 saw the promotion of Sam Luttrell in Perth to counsel and the hire of counsel Thomas Walsh in Seoul from Herbert Smith Freehills. In Beijing, partner Patrick Zheng left the firm for Clyde & Co.
In DC, the hire of two Spanish-speaking associates further bolstered the firm’s Latin American practice, following the arrival in 2013 of special legal consultant Sara Marzal from Chadbourne.
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 Hong Kong-based consultant Kathryn Sanger was part of the committee that completed its work on the revisions to the arbitration rules of the Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre.
In Paris, partner Jean-Pierre Grandjean was among 14 new members voted to the Paris bar council.
One client said he was particularly impressed by the dedicated effort and patience of the lead partner (Audley Sheppard) to understand both the factual and legal complexities of the dispute, as well as his ability to reflect these complexities in simple and understandable terms in the pleadings.
Meanwhile, another client – a leading financial institution – praises Sheppard’s ability to handle highly technical evidence.
Karl Hennessee, a vice president at Halliburton, notes that in one case, Clifford Chance saved his company millions even though it meant less income for the law firm. “While it may have cost them money in the short term, the firm grew even further in the estimation of all for its sanguine and forward-thinking commitment to the business,” he says.
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