GAR 100 - 15th Edition

Withers

Withers

Professional notice

Helping to enforce a treaty award the firm won against Nigeria

People in Future Leaders5
Pending cases as counsel55
Value of pending counsel workUS$6.5 billion
Treaty cases as counsel7
Third-party funded cases5
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 of 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, and former UK attorney general Geoffrey Cox QC followed as consultant global counsel in 2020.

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. The Hong Kong office is home to Sherlin Tung, a former ICC deputy counsel who joined in 2020 from CMS. There is also a Milan team featuring partner Cristina Pagni.

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 Solar had sought twice as much in the claim, which concerned a contract for the supply of solar energy equipment. Withers is now helping Frazer Solar enforce the award in the US, the 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.

Recent events

Withers is helping Chinese company Zhongshan Fucheng Industrial Investment seek US and UK enforcement of a US$70 million UNCITRAL treaty award it won against Nigeria. Withers also acted in the arbitration, helping its client secure what is the first known investment treaty award held by a mainland Chinese investor against an African state. Nigeria initially applied to have the award set aside in the Commercial Court in London but withdrew that action after Zhongshan demanded security for costs.

The firm is co-counsel to investors in Brazil’s national oil and gas company Petrobras in a class action claim in the Dutch courts over losses suffered due to the Lava Jata corruption scandal. In 2021, the District Court of Rotterdam reversed its previous decision to exclude certain claimants because of an arbitration clause in Petrobras’ articles of association.

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.

The Hong Kong office saw two arrivals: senior partner Joseph Chu from Simmons & Simmons and partner Michael Chik from Bird & Bird.

Client comment

A company that Withers represented in a contractual dispute says partner Tung and her team “cut through the chaos and delivered incredibly decisive action” that put the counterparty “back on their heels”.

They add that Tung and her team – of counsel Martin Auerbach in New York and associate Alex Ye in Hong Kong – helped “countless times in the odd hours of the night during our most turbulent moments as a company”.

“Tung’s compassionate nature helped us navigate our most stressful and emotional times, preventing us from making countless reactionary legal mistakes and ultimately placing us in a better position of success moving forward.”

Other clients say the firm is “considerate and professional” and Haeri is an “outstanding and complete advocate” who is “extremely strong in the hearing”.

A state client says partner Lindsay in New York is “a remarkable professional. Alongside her charming character, which makes communicating with her always comfortable and meaningful, she leads an excellent team capable of meeting clients’ various and complex needs.”

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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