GAR 100 - 15th Edition

Shearman & Sterling

Shearman & Sterling

Professional notice

After its renowned Paris team left last year, the practice has grown in London while there were some departures in Asia

People in Who’s Who Legal5
People in Future Leaders3
Pending cases as counsel44
Value of pending counsel workUS$22 billion
Treaty cases as counsel5
Third-party funded cases0
Current arbitrator appointments13 (11 as chair or sole)
Lawyers sitting as arbitrator5

Shearman & Sterling’s huge renown for international arbitration grew after its 2014 win against Russia for the former majority shareholders of Yukos. The US$50 billion awards remain the largest recorded win in an investment treaty dispute. The firm also won a record US$2.5 billion commercial award for Dow Chemical against a Kuwaiti state entity in 2012.

Its work in this field started in the mid-1980s, when Emmanuel Gaillard joined from Bredin Prat. Originally hired for litigation, Gaillard opted instead to focus on international arbitration. Shearman became one of the first firms with a bespoke international arbitration team (along with Gide Loyrette Nouel, Coudert Brothers and, soon, Freshfields).

The gamble paid off. After landing two huge cases in the early 1990s, the burgeoning team acted in a series of seminal matters later in the decade. These were in the energy and construction areas and a (then new) discipline called investment arbitration.

In 2021, Gaillard and five other partners in the Paris office – including head of public international law Yas Banifatemi – left to open a new boutique, GBS Disputes. Tragically, Gaillard died suddenly soon after.

Shearman's arbitration team is now led by partner Alex Bevan, who is based in Abu Dhabi. He joined the firm in 2000 and is particularly well versed in commercial arbitrations relating to construction and development projects, acquisitions and joint ventures.

Rather than try to recreate the departed Paris team's practice, Bevan has said the arbitration group’s strategic priority is to grow in other jurisdictions such as the Middle East, US and UK and create a “truly integrated” global practice.  

Although the firm continues to do investor-state work, it is putting more emphasis on high-value commercial work in alignment with the firm’s project finance and M&A teams.

Network

The practice has partners in Abu Dhabi, Beijing, Singapore, London, Paris, New York and DC.

The New York practice is run by Henry Weisburg and boosted its profile thanks to the Dow Chemical win. The DC team is led by partner Christopher Ryan, who leads on the group’s Latin America work, particularly in the mining space.

Jennifer Younan leads the team in Paris and focuses on investment arbitration and public international law.

The London team is led by Garreth Wong, who joined in 2020 after several years as partner at Bird & Bird. It is also home to Matthew Skinner, a recent arrival from Jones Day.

French-trained lawyer Emmanuel Jacomy divides his time between Beijing and Singapore. He’s fluent in Mandarin.

The firm currently has no partners in Hong Kong following the departure of Nils Eliasson for King & Spalding in 2022.

Who uses it?

Members of the practice have advised construction groups such as OHL, Enka, and Orascom Construction and energy clients such as Chevron and Électricité de France.

They’ve also counselled state-owned entities such as Abu Dhabi National Oil Company and Mubadala in the UAE, Algeria’s Sonatrach, China’s Sinopec, Morocco’s OCP Group, PTT in Thailand, Staatsolie in Suriname and Ukraine’s national nuclear energy company Energoatom.

The firm has also advised state clients in the investment treaty arena, including China, Ukraine and Panama.

Track record

Although a lot of the firm’s biggest wins are closely associated with Gaillard and Banifatemi, in many cases practitioners who remain at Shearman also had a hand in securing them.

Younan, for example, worked with Gaillard and Banifatemi as counsel on the famous Yukos case, helping secure the landmark win against Russia.

Bevan co-led the team that helped to settle a monumental ICC arbitration worth €6.1 billion between Areva, Siemens and Finnish utility TVO in 2018. Shearman’s client Areva agreed to pay €450 million for delays in the construction of a nuclear power plant.

Bevan also helped to obtain a landmark ruling from the UK Supreme Court in 2020 in the Enka v Chubb case, which concerned how to determine the law governing an arbitration agreement. That judgment won a GAR Award for most important decision.

Jacomy helped nine power producers win a US$130 million LCIA award against a Pakistani state-owned electricity company after persuading a sole arbitrator that the respondent had colluded in third-party litigation to thwart compliance with an expert determination.

Recent events

Together with former colleagues at GBS Disputes, Shearman helped Électricité de France settle a dispute over the sale of its interest in three US nuclear power plants. The dispute spawned a “baseball arbitration”, a rare use of the ICC’s pre-arbitral referee procedure and a full-blown ICC arbitration. The settlement cleared the way for EDF to sell its nearly 50% interest in a joint venture for US$885 million.

Bevan’s Abu Dhabi team continues to defend a consortium made up of OHL and Egypt’s Orascom Construction in a pair of ICC cases brought by a Qatari state-backed foundation over the construction of a medical facility in Doha, with billions in dispute. The firm represents another OHL consortium (including Samsung) in a billion-dollar dispute with a Qatari state-owned railway company over a terminated contract to build two metro stations in Doha.

Jacomy is representing a Pakistani power producer in an English-law ICC arbitration seated in Singapore against the Pakistan Power and Water Development Authority.

The US team is defending Canada’s Stoneway Capital in a US$125 million ICC case brought by a Latin American construction contractor; and a European biotech company in a US$4 billion arbitration over a collaboration agreement. It also filed an amicus curiae brief with the US Supreme Court on whether US law permits discovery in aid of foreign commercial arbitrations.

Younan has been defending Ukraine against treaty claims brought by Russian state-owned bank Vnesheconombank and subsidiaries of Russian aluminium giant Rusal. She’s also advising state entity Energoatom on a potential treaty claim against Russia relating to the loss of wind farm assets in Crimea.

In London, Wong is representing a Malaysian company in an ICSID claim against Sri Lanka over a US$150 million renewable energy project. And Shearman continues to defend China in an ICSID claim brought by a German spice manufacturer over the alleged expropriation of its local subsidiary.

The team in London expanded with the arrival of partner Matthew Skinner in early 2022. He previously led the Asia-Pacific arbitration work at Jones Day.

Shearman promoted four new counsel: David Hume and Alexander Nordang in Abu Dhabi, Jesse Sherrett in DC and Edward Taylor in Hong Kong.

There was a double departure in Asia, with Nils Eliasson in Hong Kong leaving for King & Spalding and partner Daryl Chew in Singapore moving to Three Crowns.

Shearman & Sterling is a U.S. firm comprising approximately 850 lawyers in 25 offices around the world.

Shearman & Sterling has represented companies, States and State-owned companies in international arbitrations for over 40 years. Our multi-lingual, multi-cultural international arbitration team is widely regarded as one of the very best on the market and includes lawyers fully dedicated to international arbitration in Abu Dhabi, Beijing, Dubai, Hong Kong, London, New York, Paris, Singapore and Washington, D.C.

We are known for our strategic view and thorough knowledge of arbitration processes and comparative law. We act as counsel in arbitrations worldwide, also advising our clients on early dispute management and avoidance. Members of our team also sit as arbitrator.

Our clients have described our team as tenacious, dedicated and focused on winning. We assemble teams combining technical excellence and industry expertise to fiercely defend the interests of our clients through clear and cogent written and oral advocacy, without compromising their long-term goals with their business partners. Our lawyers are trained to be attentive to our clients’ needs and expectations, responsive and organized.

We are able to conduct proceedings in English, French, Arabic, Chinese, Spanish, Russian and many other languages.

We offer assistance, representation and advice at all stages of the arbitration process. This includes pre-arbitral negotiations, the conduct of arbitral proceedings, advocacy at trial, and the challenge and enforcement of arbitral awards. We also appear before national courts to prosecute or defend applications for interim measures in support of arbitration, such as injunctions, attachments and orders preserving evidence.

We stand apart from other firms for our ability to address highly complex issues of international arbitration law. Our group has been repeatedly singled out for being the one to go to for “seriously problematic cases,” as well as for the “unsurpassed quality” of its work.

Contacts

Alex Bevan – [email protected]
Emmanuel Jacomy – [email protected]
Christopher M. Ryan – [email protected]
Matthew Skinner – [email protected]
Henry Weisburg – [email protected]
Garreth Wong – [email protected]
Jennifer Younan – [email protected]

Website: www.shearman.com

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