Nishimura & Asahi
Secured a favourable settlement for a Japanese client in a US$7 billion dispute
|People in Who’s Who Legal||4|
|People in Future Leaders||1|
|Pending cases as counsel||11|
|Value of pending counsel work||US$2.45 billion|
|Treaty cases as counsel||2|
|Third-party funded cases||1|
|Current arbitrator appointments||2 (2 as chair or sole)|
|Lawyers sitting as arbitrator||2|
Japan’s biggest law firm, Nishimura & Asahi was established in 1966 and has been involved in a number of arbitrations over the years, spanning M&A, joint ventures and construction. With Japan only recently beginning to make progress as an arbitral seat, the firm’s activities in this field have not been as visible as those of its counterparts in, for example, South Korea.
But the work is there. It has been active in disputes across Asia, taking on cases at major institutions like the ICC, SIAC and CIETAC, as well as the Japan Commercial Arbitration Association (JCAA), the Korean Commercial Arbitration Board (KCAB) and other recognised bodies in Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand.
In 2010, it caught attention for winning a pro-New York Convention ruling in the Tokyo courts for insurance company AIU during set-aside proceedings; the case was shortlisted for a GAR award.
The practice is led by Tokyo partner Hiroyuki Tezuka, who is a familiar face around the region. He sits on the SIAC Court and the KCAB International Arbitration Committee, as well as the ICC Court.
The team in Tokyo includes partners Chie Nakahara and Lars Markert, a German and Swiss-qualified lawyer who joined from Gleiss Lutz in 2018, having previously spent two years on secondment at Nishimura & Asahi. He has experience in commercial and investment arbitration and sits as arbitrator.
In Singapore, partner Shintaro Uno has been helping the firm branch out into South East Asian arbitrations, particularly construction-related cases. That office is also home to counsel Natalie Yap, an English-qualified foreign attorney who joined in 2017 from Watson Farley & Williams.
The firm raised its international profile further in 2018 when it hired two new foreign attorneys, including Anne-Marie Doernenburg, a German national who previously practised at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and is the Asia chair for the Institute for Transnational Arbitration.
Markert has been pitching for more investment arbitration work.
The firm has offices in four Japanese cities and 14 overseas offices in Beijing, Shanghai, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Yangon, Bangkok, Singapore, Taipei, Frankfurt, Düsseldorf, Dubai and New York, as well as affiliate offices in Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta.
In 2020, Nishimura & Asahi became the first Japanese law firm to launch a formal law alliance in Singapore, after it teamed up with local firm Bayfront Law.
Who uses it?
Major clients have included Panasonic, Sharp, Toshiba, AIG, Novartis, Mitsubishi Fuso Truck and Bus, Mitsubishi Electric and Honda Motors.
A Japanese automotive company used the firm to good effect in a US$300 million dispute with a former Asian distributor. The firm obtained an anti-suit injunction in 2017 from a JCAA tribunal, then went on to prevail in the arbitration in the following year. The client was granted the declaratory relief it asked for along with costs.
In 2018, the firm successfully defended a Japanese automotive client in a US$70 million JCAA case brought by a former distributor in the Middle East. Herbert Smith Freehills in Tokyo was on the other side.
Together with a UK firm, Nishimura & Asahi helped a large Japanese corporation secure the dismissal of a US$175 million claim relating to the termination of a distribution agreement.
A team led by Uno secured a win for a Japanese client in a BANI arbitration, following which the respondent, a local developer, filed set-aside proceedings in an Indonesian court.
The firm obtained a favourable settlement for a Japanese client in a US$7.3 billion dispute over a joint venture between companies engaged in power plant construction projects in South Africa. This case, which the firm says is the largest arbitration in the history of the JCAA, saw the client receive a monetary payment and delivery of all shares in the joint venture.
Punjaporn Kosolkitiwong joined the firm from Dej-Udom & Associates as head of disputes in Bangkok.
About Nishimura & Asahi
We are Japan’s largest full-service international law firm. With more than 800 professionals* around the world, the diversity and depth of expertise offered by our world-class lawyers is singular. We have been providing our clients with comprehensive solutions through exceptional knowledge and experience since 1966.
*including Associate and Alliance offices
Leading Japanese law firm for international arbitration
With over 35 years of experience, Nishimura & Asahi is the leading Japanese law firm for international arbitration. Our team and many of our lawyers have won distinguished recognition and accolades for handling large and complex international arbitration cases.
For the sixth year running, Global Arbitration Review has included our international arbitration practice in The GAR 100.
We regularly advise on a variety of arbitration cases across numerous industries such as automotive, pharmaceutical, TMT, energy (including renewables), insurance, finance, and infrastructure/construction in connection with M&A deals, joint ventures, commercial relationships and the termination of distribution agreements.
Investment treaty arbitration
We also have a strong practice in investment treaty arbitration. Our team consists not only of talented lawyers with practical dispute resolution experience but also lawyers who have assisted the Japanese Government in negotiating international free trade and investment agreements.
Strong expertise in international arbitration rules
Our arbitration team possesses a wealth of experience in international arbitration cases, including ad hoc and emergency arbitrator procedures, under the rules of the ICC, SIAC, JCAA, KCAB, HKIAC, CIETAC, AAA-ICDR, Swiss Rules, DIS, NAI, ICSID, as well as recognized bodies in Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand. We regularly advise European companies on business activities in Japan and throughout Asia, as well as Asian clients on European law issues.
A truly global reach
As experts in international business law, Nishimura & Asahi has created a global network that spans Asia, Europe, the Americas and beyond. We hold a particularly strong presence in Southeast Asia with highly experienced and locally qualified lawyers.
We have 18 offices across the world, including Bangkok, Beijing, Shanghai, Dubai, Frankfurt, Düsseldorf, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Jakarta*1, Kuala Lumpur*1, New York, Singapore, Taipei and Yangon, and Japanese offices in Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka, and Fukuoka. We offer a full suite of cross-border legal services throughout our global network.
*1 Associate Office