GAR 100 - 16th Edition

King & Spalding

King & Spalding

Professional notice

The US firm achieved significant defence wins for Turkey while bringing home more big awards for investors

People in Who’s Who Legal18
People in Future Leaders10
Pending cases as counsel205
Value of pending counsel workUS$202 billion
Treaty cases as counsel51
Third-party funded cases22
Current arbitrator appointments78 (44 as chair or sole)
Lawyers sitting as arbitrator22

Atlanta-headquartered firm King & Spalding opened an office in Houston in 1995, paving the way for one of the success stories of the modern arbitration era.

In 2000, the Houston office recruited Doak Bishop, who joined with a single arbitration case. He built a team around him including Craig Miles, Roberto Aguirre Luzi and Wade Coriell, all now well-known partners in their own right. 

A series of wins for investors in BIT claims against Argentina relating to the state’s 2001-2002 financial crisis brought the team to wider attention and fuelled its expansion.

The practice’s gravity pulled in partners from the firm’s other offices. From 2004, Ed Kehoe from the New York office began to participate regularly, as did partners in Atlanta. Kehoe is today a co-chair of the practice.

Lateral hires broadened its reach further in Europe, the US, Asia and the Middle East. A Paris group formed around partners such as James Castello – who joined from Dewey & LeBoeuf – and Ken Fleuriet, who has become visible on much of the firm’s Energy Charter Treaty work.

The Paris office further expanded with the hire of Marc-Olivier Langlois, the former co-chair of construction disputes at Hughes Hubbard & Reed, in 2018, and Laurent Jaeger, former worldwide co-head of arbitration at Orrick, a year later.

The firm opened an office in Singapore in 2010, where Coriell is now based as head of the Asia disputes practice.

The London practice has grown considerably in recent years and now features four King’s Counsel: John Savage, Tom Sprange, Ruth Byrne and recent arrival Ben Emmerson, who heads the firm’s public international law practice.

Bishop, meanwhile, has become known as an authority on international oil and gas law – thanks to a treatise analysing the most important major oil and gas arbitrations and their results. He is also increasingly busy as an arbitrator.

Two decades on, the one-person practice has become a 100-strong enterprise across 18 offices that is now regularly found in the top tier of arbitration rankings.


The most important offices for arbitration are Houston, New York, London, Paris and Singapore. The group also has a presence in Frankfurt, Geneva and Dubai. In the US, it has people in Atlanta, Austin, Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington, DC.

In 2022, the firm opened a Miami office with partners Harry Burnett and Érica Franzetti relocating there to target Latin America-related work.

Who uses it?

High-profile clients include Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Shell, Dow Chemicals, El Paso, ExxonMobil, Exterran, Webuild, Air Canada, AT&T, KBR, Murphy Oil, Sempra, Renco Group, Reliance Industries, Astro, Veolia and En+.

As the practice has evolved, the client list has become more diverse, now even including the occasional government. Turkey and its state-owned oil and gas company are clients.

Track record

King & Spalding built its name on results. Starting in the 2000s, it had a series of big wins for investors against Argentina (including Azurix, Sempra and creditors of Enron). It went on to help Anadarko and Maersk settle a multibillion-dollar tax dispute with Algeria, and brought home a US$2 billion award for Dow Chemicals.

Further highlights include:

  • a successful denial of justice claim for Chevron against Ecuador, establishing that a US$9 billion local court judgment against the company was ghost-written;
  • helping Chevron and Shell win an ICC dispute with the Philippines over back taxes – an award the firm has said is worth US$4 billion;
  • a US$2 billion ICSID award for Spain’s Naturgy and Italy’s Eni against Egypt, which led to settlement of a long-running dispute over an LNG plant;
  • a succession of ECT awards, including a then-record US$500 million for Moldovan investors against Kazakhstan and various wins for renewables investors against Spain and Italy;
  • a €178 million ICSID award for Sweden’s Micula brothers against Romania;
  • defeating a US$1.7 billion claim by India against client Reliance Industries over gas migration between adjacent fields;
  • achieving the rare feat of getting an ICC award enforced even after it was annulled at the arbitral seat in Mexico, leading to a US$435 million settlement for US client KBR; and
  • knocking out almost all of a US$1.7 billion claim against Chevron over the construction of a jetty in Australia.

Recent events

The firm has had notable success defending Turkey in a series of cases, some of them arising from the failed coup in the country in 2016. It defeated a US$6 billion ICSID claim brought by the purported owner of a mining and media conglomerate placed under the control of Turkish trustees, and a €126 million claim concerning the alleged expropriation of a real estate and media distribution group. In both cases, King & Spalding and Turkish co-counsel Lexist won on jurisdiction.

Another great result saw Turkey ordered to pay only nominal damages to US-based Westwater Resources in a dispute over revoked uranium mining licences, after an ICSID panel found the claimant had not established causation despite winning on liability.

The firm continues to advise the state in a long-running ICC dispute with Iraq over whether Turkey is entitled to purchase crude oil exports from the semiautonomous Iraqi Kurdistan region. The case is reportedly close to a final award.

There were also big wins for investors. The firm secured a high-profile award worth €190 million plus interest for London-listed Rockhopper Exploration against Italy over a ban on offshore drilling near the country’s coastline. The case became a flashpoint in the debate over the Energy Charter Treaty.

There were more wins for renewable energy investors in ECT claims against Spain. Portuguese client Cavalum SGPS was awarded €9 million plus interest, while a group of German investors progressed their claim to the damages phase.

For US infrastructure group Quanta Services, it won a US$177 million ICC award against a Peruvian state agency over a terminated project to build rural telecoms networks. The award has been submitted to the US courts for enforcement.

Korean client LG Corporation used the firm to secure a US$95 million SIAC award against Japanese electronics manufacturer Sharp over a technology licensing agreement.

There was an important settlement for Global Steel Holdings, founded by Indian businessman Pramod Mittal, in a dispute with Nigeria. The government agreed to pay almost US$500 million to end a long-running claim reportedly worth US$5.26 billion over a concession to upgrade steel and iron ore operations.

For General Electric, it settled two unrelated ICC cases – an US$1.8 billion dispute over an LNG project on the western coast of Australia, and a case over a US$230 million power plant project in Algeria.

In French set-aside proceedings, the firm succeeded in reviving a US$4 billion claim against Uruguay, brought on behalf of children of Indian mining tycoon Pramod Agarwal. The court ruled that the arbitrators had wrongly declined jurisdiction.

The firm continues to act for an entity owned by Indonesia’s wealthy Widjaja family in a multibillion-dollar ICC dispute over the sale of a pulpmaker. A partial award on liability in favour of the client has already been upheld in the Brazilian courts. The case has been described as one of the largest corporate disputes in Brazil’s history.

Samaa Haridi joined the New York office in 2022 from Hogan Lovells, where she was head of the Middle East practice. King & Spalding also promoted Jessica Beess und Chrostin to partner in the same office. Simon Maynard was made counsel in London.

There were also some departures at the partner level. Amy Frey in Paris left to join McDermott Will & Emery. Viren Mascarenhas, based in London and New York, went to Milbank. Patrick McPherson and Randall Walker in Dubai, and Emerson Holmes in Singapore, all experienced in construction disputes, moved to Hogan Lovells.

Client comment

Javier Gerbolés de Gáldiz, former general secretary for Unión Fenosa Gas (the Naturgy-Eni venture that won US$2 billion against Egypt) has described Bishop and Castello as “the very best the company has ever worked with”.

Alessandro Reitelli, formerly CEO of Athena Investments, says King & Spalding’s lawyers are “committed and highly skilled” while also “very pragmatic”. He says the firm has “the ‘guts’ to stick to a strategy”. He compliments the “amazing” Fleuriet and Reggie Smith, as well as Kevin Mohr, who conducted cross-examination “brilliantly”.

King & Spalding is widely recognized as one of the world’s leading law firms in international arbitration and litigation. We represent clients in commercial and investment arbitration, and in courts around the world in international litigation, such as motions to compel arbitration, anti-suit injunctions and enforcement actions.

Our highly-integrated global team of 130 lawyers works collaboratively across 18 offices worldwide. We have handled arbitral proceedings across a broad range of industry sectors involving projects and parties in more than 140 countries around the world. With advocacy skills tested in the most complex of international disputes, King & Spalding is known for its unsurpassed written and oral advocacy.

In the international commercial arbitration field, we have represented clients in hundreds of commercial disputes under the rules of all the major arbitral institutions. In the investment arbitration field, we have handled matters brought under contracts and bilateral, regional and multilateral treaties, and have obtained some of the most significant awards in history.

Our reputation is based on imaginative strategic thinking, meticulous preparation, powerful advocacy, and above all a determination to excel for our clients. These attributes are regularly highlighted by all the major legal directories, including Global Arbitration Review, Chambers Global and The Legal 500, which consistently place King & Spalding at the very top of this field of international law.

In the leading ranking of international arbitration law firms, King & Spalding is ranked number 1 worldwide (Global Arbitration Review: 2020, 2022, 2023).


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