The practice continues to deliver good results for Kazakhstan and secured an award against Ghana
|People in Who’s Who Legal||4|
|People in Future Leaders||3|
|Pending cases as counsel||246|
|Value of pending counsel work||US$30 billion|
|Treaty cases as counsel||10|
|Third-party funded cases||7|
|Current arbitrator appointments||24 (12 as chair or sole)|
|Lawyers sitting as arbitrator||11|
Reed Smith broke into the GAR 100 after acquiring a team from respected Miami boutique Astigarraga Davis in 2017. Since then, the practice has been on something of a charge, adding additional talent around the world and seeking to harness existing elements (many already successful) into a coherent whole.
Founded in Pittsburgh in 1877, Reed Smith has enjoyed a name in energy and natural resources, life sciences, entertainment, shipping and financial services. Although lawyers within its industry groups did international arbitration, there was no central practice in this area for many years.
The current practice began to take shape around 2007 when Reed Smith merged with UK firm Richards Butler, well known for disputes in London. A construction team from Pinsent Masons arrived soon after.
During that period, London was the centre of the practice. Work tended to be led by Gautam Bhattacharyya, who has a focus on India and is now vice chair of the arbitration team, and Belinda Paisley, who specialises in investment treaty disputes and public international law.
Between 2008 and 2013, the practice extended to Hong Kong (when Reed Smith acquired Richards Butler’s local operations), Singapore, Houston and Astana (now Nur-Sultan) – the latter in response to increasing work from the Kazakh government.
Renowned Latin America specialist José Astigarraga joined with his team in Miami in 2017 and became global practice head. He stepped down from that role in 2022, handing the reins to Peter Rosher in Paris – a well-known construction and energy practitioner who also joined in 2017 from Pinsent Masons.
The firm has recruited other former Pinsent Masons lawyers in the Middle East, including Sachin Kerur and Michelle Nelson.
The key offices are Miami, London, Paris, Singapore, Hong Kong, Dubai and Houston, with others in Frankfurt and New York.
The wider firm has 29 offices across the US, Europe, Asia and the Middle East. As of 2016, it also has a formal law alliance with Singaporean firm Resource Law.
Who uses it?
The firm has a policy of not naming clients, but they are known to include big players in the energy and natural resources, construction, pharmaceuticals and shipping industries.
Kazakhstan has used the practice for nearly two decades in investment treaty matters, some worth billions of dollars. Gabon has used the firm too. Bolivia’s state-owned telecoms company Entel and Tanzania’s national electricity company Tanesco have used members of the firm, as have GE and Canada’s SNC-Lavalin.
At their former practice, Astigarraga’s team regularly advised General Motors, GE Medical Systems, Citibank, and Ukrainian businessmen Igor Kolomoisky and Gennadiy Bogolyubov.
Reed Smith has delivered a string of successes for Kazakhstan, including defeating a pair of ICSID claims each worth over US$1 billion lodged by KT Asia and US power company AES. It also won the complete dismissal of a US$200 million ICSID claim and significantly reduced the damages award in other cases.
The team won a US$46 million award for a European engineering client in an ICC arbitration over a signalling system on a metro system in Asia; the arbitration included fraud allegations against the client, which were rejected.
Further success came defending Tanzania’s Tanesco in two ICC arbitrations over a power project worth a combined US$150 million. One arbitration went entirely the client’s way; another became the subject of Tanzanian and English litigation that eventually settled.
The former Astigarraga Davis team’s highlights reel includes enforcing an ICC award in favour of the US Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation against investment firm IIG Capital in the Florida courts and winning various landmark US court decisions granting discovery in support of arbitral proceedings (in one case for a NAFTA claim).
There was another success for Kazakhstan, with the firm defeating a US$460 million ICSID claim by Nevada-registered Big Sky Energy over the expropriation of an oil venture.
The firm also helped the Central Asian state knock out a significant portion of a US$100 million claim by Canada’s Alhambra Resources. Both sides are now trying to annul the awards.
Reed Smith secured a US$69 million award against Ghana for client West Africa Gas – a joint venture between India’s Sahara Group and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation. The dispute concerned an emergency contract signed during an energy crisis.
The firm acted in a politically sensitive dispute in France relating to Areva’s 2017 sale of its nuclear reactor business Framatome to EDF. Areva agreed in 2022 to pay €563 million to EDF to settle two ICC arbitrations relating to alleged defective work by Framatome. Reed Smith acted for Framatome in the dispute.
In Singapore, it is representing two subsidiaries of local engineering group Asiatic in a SIAC arbitration with Cambodia’s Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone, concerning electricity tariffs under a joint venture agreement.
In the Florida courts, Astigarraga helped the Panama Canal Authority as it successfully defended a US$270 million ICC award against a construction consortium.
Reed Smith launched a mobile app allowing users to calculate the cost of arbitration in dozens of institutions and showing arbitrators how much they could get paid. It was developed by Singapore-based barrister Timothy Cooke, who joined Reed Smith in 2021 as partner from Stephenson Harwood.
The firm made another hire from Stephenson Harwood, James Willn, who joined the partnership in Dubai.
The Miami office grew in 2022 with the hire of a three-person team from Akerman, including partners Francisco Rodriguez and Sandra Millor and foreign legal consultant Gilberto Guerrero-Rocca. Rodriguez joins as vice-chair of the international arbitration practice in the US.
Counsel Ben Love left the New York team to join Boies Schiller Flexner as partner.
David Seton of gold mining company Besra, which retained the firm for an expropriation claim under the ASEAN trade agreement, says it has delivered “nothing short of excellence”. He calls the team “extremely professional, practical and understanding of commercial reality”.
Seton says partner Chloe Carswell guided the process “with great skill and backed with obvious depth of experience and legal knowledge”, and associate Lucy Winnington-Ingram’s “complete grasp of detailed and complicated factual and legal issues instilled absolute confidence”.
Reed Smith’s international arbitration practice spans the globe. With offices in the world’s leading arbitral centers, including London, Paris, New York, Singapore, Hong Kong, Dubai, Miami, and Houston, we are ideally positioned to represent clients in international business disputes.
We have grown our practice strategically by recruiting leading international arbitration lawyers across our platform, including in Paris, Singapore, Hong Kong, New York, and entire market-leading teams for the Middle East and Latin America in Dubai and Miami, respectively.
With the continuing growth of our practice through the addition of such recognized talent to our already strong and multi-jurisdictional team of international arbitration lawyers, we now have one of the largest and most diverse international arbitration practices in the world, with the ability to represent clients in every significant arbitral center and seat around the globe.
As one of the world’s leading disputes firms, we also represent clients in arbitration-related proceedings in first instance and appellate courts, including stay and enforcement proceedings.
Our geographic reach is coupled with deep industry knowledge. Many of our arbitration lawyers are embedded within industry groups, giving them real-life experience of the workings of our clients’ businesses and industries in a wide range of sectors, including construction, projects and infrastructure, energy and natural resources, shipping and transportation, international trade and commodities, pharmaceuticals, life sciences, entertainment and media, financial services, telecoms, insurance, and manufacturing.
Our team has significant experience in investor-state disputes involving bilateral and multilateral treaties under the auspices of ICSID and under the UNCITRAL rules, and in claims under the Energy Charter Treaty, advising and representing international investors, states, and state-owned entities in a wide range of disputes.
Many of our international arbitration practitioners hold leadership positions within the global arbitration community and frequently speak at conferences on arbitration.
For more information on our international arbitration capabilities, or to learn about Reed Smith’s innovative Arbitration Pricing Calculator app, please visit our International Arbitration page on reedsmith.com or contact
Peter Rosher at ([email protected] +33 (0)1 44 34 80 95).