GAR 100 - 14th Edition

Withers

Withers

Professional notice

Advising Chinese investors on a billion-dollar claim against an African state

People in Future Leaders3
Pending cases as counsel48
Value of pending counsel workUS$5.7 billion
Treaty cases as counsel6
Third-party funded cases4
Current arbitrator appointments2 (2 as chair or sole)
Lawyers sitting as arbitrator2

Founded in 1896, Withers has long been known for its work for high net worth individuals. It was less well known for international arbitration before 2014, when it established a dedicated group in this area for the first time.

Two partners in London lead the group: Hussein Haeri and Eleni Polycarpou. Haeri joined in 2014, having previously worked at Eversheds and Latham & Watkins, bringing experience in public international law and investment arbitration.

Polycarpou has been at Withers for over 13 years and often acts for high net worth Ukrainian or Russian individuals in joint-venture disputes. She also has a specialist practice advising on art disputes, recently acting in an LCIA case over the ownership a Monet painting.

Other partners to know in London are Tatiana Menshenina, who joined in 2015 after leading the CIS practice at Simmons & Simmons; Peter Wood, the firm’s global head of disputes, whose practice spans commercial arbitration and insolvency; and Roberto Moruzzi. Indian practitioner Aniruddha Rajput joined in London as a consultant in 2018.

In New York, partner Emma Lindsay leads the international arbitration and public international law teams in the US. She joined the firm in 2018 from Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner.  

In Singapore, the team includes partners Deborah Barker SC and Ushan Premaratne. Two other partners joined that office in 2020 – Shaun Leong from Eversheds Sutherland Harry Elias, and Chenthil Kumarasingam from Oon and Bazul.

The Hong Kong office is home to Sherlin Tung, a former ICC deputy counsel who joined in 2020 from CMS.  

Network

The arbitration group has people in London, Milan, New York, Hong Kong and Singapore. The wider firm has offices in various locations including Geneva, San Francisco, Los Angeles, the British Virgin Islands, Tokyo and Sydney.

Who uses it?

The firm’s private clients include various prominent high net worth individuals and investors in the arts. The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Hyundai have used it for commercial arbitrations.

Governments that have turned to the firm for advice include Ukraine, Jersey and the British Virgin Islands.

Track record

Withers has enjoyed success for German client Frazer Solar, which was awarded €50 million in a Johannesburg-seated arbitration against Lesotho. Frazer had sought twice as much in the claim, which concerned a contract for the supply of solar energy equipment. Withers is now helping the client to enforce the award in the US, UK, South Africa and Mauritius.

The firm helped Juventus footballer Paulo Dybala settle an ICC arbitration worth around €35 million with his former agent over image rights, a dispute that reportedly scuppered potential moves to English clubs Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United.

It won a €6 million award for Italian construction company Gemmo in a commercial arbitration over a Libyan hospital project disrupted by the country’s civil war. The firm successfully applied to a court in Benghazi for the default appointment of an arbitrator.

A London team advised Samsung Electronics in an appeal before the Dubai Court of Cassation, which upheld a US$23 million ICC award in favour of the client against UAE companies Midcom and Onesto Trading.

Recent events

The firm defended Ukraine against an investment treaty claim brought by Estonian casino investor Olympic Entertainment Group over a ban on gambling businesses. The case ended in April 2021 with an award of €7.5 million in damages against the state.

It continues to represent Chinese property investors in a billion-dollar treaty claim against an African state.

At ICSID, the firm is counselling German metal recycling business Scholz Holding in a claim against Morocco; Italian waste management firm Gesenu in a case against Egypt; and Qatar National Bank in a contractual claim against South Sudan. 

A Singapore team has been advising Yves Bouvier in SIAC proceedings against a consortium that had allegedly agreed to buy his Le Freeport luxury art facility known as ‘Asia’s Fort Knox’. The dispute is worth around US$60 million.

In London, former UK attorney general Geoffrey Cox QC joined the firm as consultant global counsel; while Robert Kovacs was promoted to special counsel, two years after joining the firm from Volterra Fietta.

Partner Chia Ho Choon left the Singapore team to practise independently while partner Soo Khim Keoy joined Clifford Chance in Hong Kong.  

Client comment

A Japanese client who has instructed Withers says: “Withers is capable of carrying out in-depth research and providing the best strategic advice for its client . . . Withers skilfully manages [an] overwhelmingly large number of documents in a user-friendly and orderly fashion.” The client says New York partner Emma Lindsay is “outstanding”. 

A head of legal says of the firm: “Excellent performance: fair pricing, great responsiveness and attention to detail. They know how to move a case forward.” He praises Hussein Haeri and his “right hand” Camilla Gambarini.

Withers has a dedicated global arbitration practice, with over 25 lawyers based across London, New York, Milan, Singapore, Hong Kong and the BVI. We work with clients around the world to resolve complex commercial, investor-State and State-State disputes under all the major arbitration rules, as well as in ad hoc arbitrations.

Our multilingual team – fluent in Arabic, French, Spanish, Greek, Italian, Russian, Ukrainian, and Turkish - serve as advocates, counsel and arbitrators, and cover the entirety of arbitration cases from initial case analysis through to successful enforcement of arbitral awards. Our lawyers are qualified in both common and civil law jurisdictions, with extensive experience working in international organisations and emerging markets.

We have an established investor-state arbitration practice with numerous investment treaty arbitration cases, representing both international investors and sovereign states. We also have a leading specialist practice advising governments on State-State disputes, as well as drafting investment treaties and investment legislation, a rare specialism.

Clients include multinational companies, investors and governments across a wide range of sectors and the team has been praised as 'highly experienced, extremely helpful and always available to discuss strategies', delivering 'great service' and combining 'deep technical knowledge with clarity of strategic direction and impressive project management skills'.

Our international expertise enables us to advise clients in the context of sensitive disputes involving regions all over the world, including in the Middle East, Africa, Asia, Russia and the CIS, Europe and Latin America.

Website: www.withersworldwide.com/en-gb/

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