GAR 100 - 16th Edition

Borden Ladner Gervais

Borden Ladner Gervais

Professional notice

Has helped investment treaty award holders target Indian aviation funds

People in Who’s Who Legal3
People in Future Leaders3
Pending cases as counsel10
Value of pending counsel workUS$3.3 billion
Treaty cases as counsel1
Third-party funded cases1
Current arbitrator appointments3 (2 as chair or sole)
Lawyers sitting as arbitrator2

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 international trade and arbitration practice.

The group developed under two key partners: Gerald Ghikas KC (now a highly regarded 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 British Columbia Court of Appeal.

Since Ghikas left in 2012, the group has been led by partner Robert Deane in Vancouver and Craig Chiasson, who was promoted to partner in 2016 and previously worked in the international arbitration group at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer in Paris.

Partner Hugh Meighen joined the Toronto office in 2016 after five years with Freshfields in London and Dubai, having also worked at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague.

Another name to know is Matthew Kronby, who joined in 2018 from Bennett Jones. Kronby is the former director general of Canada’s Trade Law Bureau, where he specialised in defending the state against NAFTA claims.


The arbitration team is concentrated in Vancouver, with 11 partners in that office, but there are also people in Calgary, Toronto and Montreal. The firm also has an office in Ottawa.

Who uses it?

Mexico has been a prominent client, particularly in NAFTA-related matters. At their previous firms, members of the group had experience defending Turkey and South Africa and representing private investors in claims against Argentina, Yemen and Georgia.

The BLG practice has advised clients including Pratt & Whitney, United Technologies, renewable energy group Alterra Power, SNC-Lavalin, Arbutus Biopharma and Lumina Copper.

Track record

BLG obtained an ICC award worth US$56 million for infrastructure client Tower-EBC over the termination of an earthworks contract for a mine in the Canadian Arctic. It then successfully defended the award in set-aside proceedings.

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.

Recent events

Representing shareholders in Indian telecoms company Devas Multimedia, holders of an investment treaty award against India, the firm secured a freezing order against US$30 million in aviation funds held by the Montreal-based International Air Transport Association (IATA), which had been set to pass the money on to India’s airports authority and state-owned airline.

The attachment caused India’s airports authority to cut ties with IATA and the Quebec national assembly to pass legislation to prevent such attachments in future.

BLG’s Calgary office is advising Geophysical Service in a US$2.6 billion NAFTA claim against Canada relating to the handling of proprietary seismic data. In 2022, the firm succeeded in disqualifying a member of Canada’s counsel team from the case because of her prior employment at a third-party funder.

It represents a claimant in an HKIAC arbitration relating to a software supply agreement. The arbitration is funded by Omni Bridgeway.

The firm is acting for Canadian mining company Entrée Resources in a dispute with Turquoise Hill and Oyu Tolgoi LLC, arising out of the Oyu Tolgoi mining project in Mongolia.

Counsel Joseph Campbell joined the Toronto office in April 2022. He has previously worked at Shearman & Sterling and the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company. In Vancouver, Shelby Liesch was promoted to partner in January 2023.

Client comment

“Robert Deane is particularly strong and should be considered as lead counsel in an arbitration,” says Lyle Braaten, in-house counsel at Lumina Gold. “He is particularly good both in preparation and at a hearing.”

Borden Ladner Gervais LLP is home to one of Canada’s largest and most active arbitration practices. 

Part of a team of more than 750 lawyers and intellectual property agents, the members of BLG’s globally-recognized Arbitration Group have extensive experience representing clients in a wide array of industries, from infrastructure to mining, from technology to life sciences, from energy to aviation, and beyond.  Multi-lingual and operating seamlessly from five offices in Canada’s major cities, members of our Group represent and advance our clients’ interests in arbitrations seated throughout the world, and under all major sets of institutional rules.   

Robert J.C. Deane
National Leader and Partner, International Trade and Arbitration Commercial Litigaiton
[email protected]

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