The Canadian firm is often called on for NAFTA-related matters in local courts
|People in Who's Who Legal||2|
|People in Future Leaders||3|
|Pending cases as counsel||12|
|Value of pending counsel work||US$2.8 billion|
|Treaty cases as counsel||1|
|Third-party funded cases||1|
|Current arbitrator appointments||5 (5 as chair or sole)|
|Lawyers sitting as arbitrator||5|
One of Canada’s largest and oldest law firms, Borden Ladner Gervais (BLG) ventured into arbitration in the 1980s as an offshoot of its work in international trade matters. To this day, the firm still groups its arbitration lawyers under a joint trade and arbitration practice.
The group developed under the guidance of two key partners: Gerald W Ghikas QC (now an independent arbitrator in Vancouver) and Edward Chiasson, an arbitrator in an early NAFTA investor-state case who returned to the firm in 2016 after nine years as a judge at the Court of Appeal for British Columbia.
These days partner Robert Deane in Vancouver steers the international trade and arbitration group. The Vancouver team includes Craig Chiasson, who was promoted to partner in 2016 and formerly worked in the international arbitration group at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer in Paris.
Partner Hugh Meighen joined the Toronto office around the same time after five years with Freshfields in London and Dubai, having also served as an assistant legal counsel at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague.
The team expanded in 2018 with the hires of Milos Barutciski and Matthew Kronby from Bennett Jones. Barutciski was counsel to Lone Pine Resources in a NAFTA chapter 11 case, while Kronby is the former director general of Canada’s Trade Law Bureau, and is an expert in NAFTA investor-state claims.
The arbitration team is based primarily in Vancouver, with five arbitration partners in that office, but there are also senior arbitration lawyers in Borden Ladner Gervais’ in Calgary, Toronto and Montreal offices. The firm also has an office in Ottawa.
Who uses it?
The government of Mexico has been a prominent client, particularly in NAFTA-related matters. At their previous firms, members of the group have also had experience defending Turkey and South Africa and representing private investors in claims against Argentina, Yemen and Georgia.
Private clients include United Technologies Corporation; renewable energy group Alterra Power; SNC Lavalin; Arbutus Biopharma; and Lumina Copper.
In 2017, the firm secured a victory on behalf of an Icelandic geothermal power producer in an Iceland-seated Stockholm Chamber of Commerce arbitration with the proponent of a potential new aluminium smelter in Iceland.
The same year, BLG helped Canadian interactive whiteboard developer SMART Technologies reverse an unfavourable ruling in an US$18 million ad hoc arbitration seated in Calgary. The client ultimately prevailed on its counterclaims in the dispute.
It has secured a favourable settlement for South American and Canadian clients in a dispute over the construction of a mine in Central America, with several hundred million US dollars in dispute.
Mexico has turned to BLG to challenge a NAFTA award on jurisdiction before the Ontario courts. The award favours a casino owner seeking more than US$100 million over legislative actions that allegedly deprived the claimant of its investments.
The firm’s Calgary office is advising Geophysical Service Inc in a potential US$2.6 billion NAFTA claim against Canada relating to the handling of proprietary seismic data. The notice of arbitration was issued in April 2019.
It represents a claimant in a HKIAC arbitration worth US$40 million relating to a software supply agreement. The firm’s arbitration head Robert Deane has taken on the case alongside partner Craig Chiasson. The arbitration is funded by Omni Bridgeway.
BLG represented a joint venture company in an ICC arbitration with a mining company over the expansion works to an iron ore mine.
Canadian gold mining company Rusoro Mining used BLG in the enforcement of a US$1.58 billion award against Venezuela.
Partner Matthew Kronby is helping Yukos affiliate Luxtona defend a favourable jurisdictional award in a US$700 million Energy Charter Treaty case against Russia, which the state has challenged in the Canadian courts.
Partner Sarah McEachern was appointed the firm’s head of litigation in Vancouver, while Cristina Birks was promoted to counsel in the firm’s Montreal office. Toronto-based Hugh Meighen was promoted to partner in 2019.
Bruce Gailey, a former in-house arbitration consultant at Alstom who joined BLG in 2015, left the firm in 2020 to join Hitachi Zosen Inova in Zurich as the company’s compliance officer and legal counsel.
BLG is Canada’s Law Firm
As Canada’s law firm, Borden Ladner Gervais provides high-value advice and advocacy to address our clients’ business challenges and problems. We go beyond legal to anticipate, consult and advise in a rapidly changing digital world.
We have extensive experience acting in specialized, complex, and virtual disputes. Vigilant, curious and collaborative, we harness technology and innovation to offer our clients exceptional service and value.
With 750+ lawyers across Canada, we serve clients throughout North America, Europe, and Asia. Offering expertise in international arbitration, domestic arbitration, and arbitration-related litigation across industry sectors, our connectivity and broad experience gives our clients the next-level service and insight required to achieve success in complex and international matters.
Bilingual across all practice areas and sectors, BLG excels in Canada’s common and civil law systems. Our five offices operate in Canada’s largest city centres to offer our clients an established national presence and a global reach through our international network.