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Asia Pacific: Regional international arbitration

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Singapore and Hong Kong function as key regional trading hubs, thanks in part to their sophisticated legal systems and proximity to countries with emerging economies. Accordingly, they remain natural choices for international arbitration in the Asia Pacific region.

Increasing cross-border trade activity has led to a corresponding need for contracting parties to consider how they manage relationships with each other, including in instances when disputes arise. Arbitration is perceived to have a number of advantages over court litigation, including greater flexibility in the arbitration process, enforceability of awards, cost and time.

This section is intended to reflect, among other factors, law firms that demonstrate a sizeable number and spread of arbitration practitioners regionally; broad sector expertise; strengths in commercial arbitration and investment treaty work; and a strong portfolio of high-end disputes.

Herbert Smith Freehills fields 36 arbitration specialists across its offices in Greater China, including five partners. In Hong Kong, Justin D’Agostino undertakes public international law and bilateral investment treaty disputes, particularly in oil and gas, infrastructure and construction. Also recommended in Hong Kong are May Tai and Simon Chapman. In mainland China, Jessica Fei represents Chinese state-owned entities in arbitrations as well as acting for international clients in disputes pertaining to their inbound investment activity. Brenda Horrigan in Shanghai is another key name. Mike McClure is a key contact in the Seoul office, while Peter Godwin, David Gilmore and Christopher Hunt are the key figures in Tokyo. Dominic Roughton and James Doe relocated to London from Tokyo and Seoul, respectively. The firm also has notable practices in Bangkok and Sydney, as well as expertise in Jakarta through affiliate firm Hiswara Bunjamin & Tandjung in association with Herbert Smith Freehills. Singapore-based Alastair Henderson heads the international arbitration practice in South East Asia.

Able to deftly handle commercial arbitrations and investment treaty work, Allen & Overy has a particularly strong reputation in disputes involving banking and finance, energy and intellectual property. Its Hong Kong team includes global international arbitration co-head Matthew Gearing QC and Frances van Eupen; they are acting for BG Exploration and Production India and Reliance Industries in a $5bn oil and gas dispute against the government of India. Judith Gill QC, who relocated to the Singapore office from London in 2015, is experienced in investor protection disputes and also handles cases involving energy and infrastructure projects, insurance claims and joint ventures. Andrew Battisson recently made partner. Perth-based Mark Van Brakel is another name to note.

At Baker & McKenzie, Singapore-based Leng Sun Chan SC was appointed chair of the firm’s global international arbitration practice in July 2015. Also in Singapore, Nandakumar Ponniya has expertise in construction disputes pertaining to the energy and infrastructure sector. Yoshiaki Muto leads the Tokyo team, which includes individuals with experience of commercial arbitration proceedings involving institutions such as the International Chamber of Commerce, Singapore International Arbitration Centre and Japan Commercial Arbitration Association, among others. The firm also has significant international arbitration experience in Taipei, Ho Chi Minh City and Sydney, as well as considerable resources in Hong Kong and mainland China.

Clifford Chance fields arbitration expertise across its Asia network, including Paul Sandosham, Nish Shetty, Harpreet Singh Nehal SC and Kabir Singh in Singapore; they handle commercial and investment treaty disputes involving sectors such as banking, oil and gas, TMT and utilities. Cameron Hassall leads the arbitration team in Greater China, which includes Kathryn Sanger and Romesh Weeramantry. Other key figures include Thomas Walsh in Seoul, who also practises in Hong Kong, and Sam Luttrell in Perth.

At Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Asia international arbitration head Nicholas Lingard, who splits his time between Singapore and Tokyo, primarily represents states and investors in complex investment treaty disputes. Lingard is leading a cross-office team acting for a Japanese renewable energy investor in ICSID proceedings against the Kingdom of Spain. Lucy Reed joined the National University of Singapore’s Centre for International Law. Hong Kong based John Choong handles Asian (particularly China-related) arbitrations pertaining to energy, chemicals, hospitality and finance, for both China-based and foreign parties. Tony Foster and Milton Lawson are recommended in Vietnam.

Norton Rose Fulbright’s Guy Spooner, who heads the firm’s Asia international commercial arbitration and dispute resolution practice from Singapore, has been a key part of the Asian arbitration scene for 26 years. Also in Singapore, KC Lye is representing Royal Brunei Airlines in a $1.5bn dispute arising from an accident at Brunei International Airport in 2014. In Hong Kong, names to note include James Rogers, Camille Jojo, Alfred Wu and Jim James. The firm also fields arbitration expertise in Tokyo, Melbourne and Perth.

Seoul-headquartered firm Bae, Kim & Lee LLC is a prominent fixture in investment treaty and commercial arbitration. Practice co-heads John Bang and Kap-You Kim are acting alongside Sue Hyun Lim and Junu Kim to defend the Republic of Korea against a $4.4bn claim for damages brought by Lone Star Funds pertaining to a protracted share sale involving Lone Star’s interests in Korea Exchange Bank and other Korean companies.

King & Spalding LLP opened a Tokyo office in September 2015, hiring Chris Bailey, who focuses on outbound matters for Japanese clients, from Ashurst. Bailey’s sector expertise includes energy, infrastructure, media and transport. The firm’s Singapore team has a standout reputation for global oil and gas and investment treaty work. Key figures in Singapore include Wade Coriell, who recently relocated from Houston to lead the firm’s Asia arbitration practice, and Emerson Holmes, who joined from Jones Day. John Savage relocated from Singapore to London but divides his time between both offices.

Andre Yeap SC leads Rajah & Tann Singapore LLP’s 27-strong Singapore team, which includes ten partners and regularly acts in in big-ticket, bet-the-company commercial and investor-state disputes. Recent work saw Paul Tan act for a Chinese cosmetics company in a joint venture dispute with a Korean cosmetics company. The firm can call on a sizeable network of offices and associated firms across Asia; in Bangkok, Surasak Vajasit’s dispute resolution team includes Supawat Srirungruang, who has expertise in Thai Arbitration Institute proceedings, while Chau Huy Quang, senior associate Tran Vi Thoai and foreign counsel Logan Leung are the key figures in Ho Chi Minh City.

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