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Who Represents Who

Find out which law firms are representing which Commodities: physicals clients in London using The Legal 500's new comprehensive database of law firm/client relationships. Instantly search over 925,000 relationships, including over 83,000 Fortune 500, 46,000 FTSE350 and 13,000 DAX 30 relationships globally. Access is free for in-house lawyers, and by subscription for law firms. For more information, contact david.burgess@legal500.com.

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Clyde & Co LLP is ‘a preferred adviser to the world’s commodity trading houses, not least because of its growing presence in jurisdictions across the world’. The firm can advise on contentious and non-contentious matters across all parts of the commodities supply chain from raw material to end user. The dedicated trade and commodities team in London handles hard and soft commodities, oil and energy, and has specialist expertise in sanctions, regulation and internal investigations. Clients strongly recommend litigators Hatty Sumption and Michael Swangard, sanctions expert John Whittaker, Marko Kraljevic, who stands out for energy transactions, and Clare Hatcher, who is ‘excellent, pragmatic and always meets the brief’. Other key figures include Eurof Lloyd-Lewis, who regularly advises on commodities disputes arising from shipping matters, and Paul Dillon, who has more than 25 years’ experience in international disputes involving energy and natural resources. The firm’s deep bench includes senior associate Tara Smith, who excels in trade disputes involving hard and soft commodities. In a key mandate, the firm advised UK-based steelmaker Liberty Global on trading aspects of numerous corporate acquisitions. In addition to acting for longstanding clients including Glenrore, ED&F Man, Tata Steel and Vitol, the firm is also handling matters for a growing list of new clients such as British Steel, Duferco, Louis Dreyfus Commodities and Sahara Energy.

HFW has ‘a very strong practice – top tier’. The firm has significant strength across all commodity classes and its tie up with a new office in Houston is increasing its flow of work in the energy sector. Head of litigation Damian Honey is singled out by clients as ‘a practical and commercial realist; he is a consummate performer in complex oil and gas disputes’. Litigator Chris Swart (‘a huge figure in GAFTA disputes who has the respect of opponents’), Sarah Taylor (who focuses on coal, iron ore and metals), energy specialist Alistair Feeney and soft and energy commodities specialist Katie Pritchard are ‘all good, sound lawyers’. Clinets also single out ‘consummate professionalsBrian Perrott (who is ‘tough but always likeable in the pursuit of his clients’ interests and never afraid to think outside the box’) and associate Rachel Turner (who ‘can sort the wheat from the chaff and distil complex issues into a brief and pithy synopsis that gets to the heart of the problem and leads to workable solutions’). Highlights for the team included representing Cargill in an appeal against an arbitral award, and acting for Chinese steel trader Sinocore International Co on the enforcement of a $4.9m award against Reuben Brothers Resources Group. The firm also counts BP, BHP Billiton and Glencore among its clients.

Hill Dickinson LLP’s ‘first-class’ team is ‘unbeatable’, according to one client; another notes that ‘the entire team is very responsive and always available even at short notice, and the quality of the work product is excellent’. Soft commodities expert and team head Jeff Isaacs is ‘the only lawyer we would use for commodities matters’, according to one client, who highlights his ‘practical, comprehensible and deeply intelligent advice’. Another client describes the firm as ‘the market leader for legal advice in the cotton sector’. Also recommended are Fred Konynenburg, for his ‘vast experience in the commodities and shipping world, and rapid and pragmatic advice’; ‘intelligent and attentive’ litigator Darren Wall, who is ‘simply a first-class lawyer’, according to one client; David Lucas, who has 40 years’ experience in commodities and energy; and Paul Taylor, who is also recommended for contentious matters. Patric McGonigal joined the London team from Hogan Lovells Horitsu Jimusho Gaikokuho Kyodo Jigyo in Tokyo and litigator Andrew Buchmann returned to the firm after working for consultancy Obsidian Legal in South Africa for seven years. Highlights for the team included successfully defending Swiss trader Addax Energy in a $1.5m claim; assisting ADM Asia-Pacific Trade with an anti-suit injunction to prevent Indonesian court proceedings relating to a $21m FOSFA arbitration; and acting for Gunvor in the English Commercial Court in a case that included complex exclusive jurisdiction conditions. The firm also acts for Bunge, BP ad Gerald Metals.

According to one client, Reed Smith LLP is ‘one of the top three firms in the commodities space’. Its deep bench includes experts in physical commodities, trade finance, emissions, power, gas, renewable energy and infrastructure. Team head Kyri Evagora, who is known for his ‘dynamic leadership’, is now based in the New York office but the London team has outstanding practitioners in Richard Swinburn (who is ‘a very good lawyer of whom clients always speak highly’), Diane Galloway and Andrew Meads, who specialises in international trade and frequently advises commodity producers, mining companies, trading houses and oil majors on contractual matters and disputes. Other key figures include Vassia Payiataki, who has 16 years’ experience in international trade and physical commodities, advising on contentious contract, trading and shipping matters, Paul Skeet, and senior associates Elizabeth Farrell and Philippa Rowe. The firm’s flagship commodities clients include producer and trader Glencore Agriculture, bioenergy company Nidera, trading house Bunge, energy multinational Chevron and global mining company Vale International. The firm’s highlights included a $50m metals purchasing, sale and storage deal for an international bank and a multibillion-dollar energy supply deal on behalf of a large trading house.

Stephenson Harwood fields a ‘practical and knowledgeable’ team that ‘has grown into a major force in the commmodities market thanks to its wide and deep knowledge of the law and commercial practicalities’. The firm has notable strength in the energy, metals and mining sectors and acts for blue-chip clients such as Macquarie, Rabobank, Drax, ENEL, Vedanta Group and Chevron. Other clients include commodity end users, banks, oil and gas traders, mining companies and energy producers. In a standout case, the practice acted for Mercuria Energy Trading and Mercuria Energy Group in a dispute with Citibank concerning allegedly missing or multiple pledged metals stocks in Qingdao. The case ran for three years before settling at the end of 2016. The firm also advised Euro-Asian Oil in a Commercial Court claim against Credit Suisse and an oil company arising from fraud claims. Team head Haris Zografakis, senior associate Jonathan Spearing and associate Mark Lakin are highly recommended, as are Peter Bennett, who is ‘an old hand in commodities, especially in the area of disputes’, and Paolo Ghirardani, who regularly acts for major oil companies and trading houses on trade and shipping fraud matters.

Watson Farley & Williams LLPhas developed a strong reputation in the commodities field’ and its litigators are known for having ‘a strong presence in court’. Head of litigation and arbitration Andrew Savage is ‘very tough, has good litigation sense and is good at dealing with difficult issues’. The firm not only has a strong suit in commodities disputes, but also advises extensively on trading and finance matters and acts for a diverse client base that includes mining companies, energy producers, traders, banks and government entities. Litigator Andrew Hutcheon acted for MRI Trading in an LME arbitration and enforcement proceedings following a rare appeal against an LME arbitration award. Savage’s highlights included a $32m breach of contract claim against the Government of Gambia on behalf of oil supplier Conapro Dena-BMS. Vitol, Hyrdo Aluminium and Rabobank are also among the firm’s clients. Robert Fidoe, who returned to London from the firm’s Bangkok office, handles significant matters in the energy and natural resources markets. He is acting for a state-owned energy company arising from problems with the design, supply and implementation of an integrated commodities trading risk management system procured from a US-based software company.

Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP fields a team of highly experienced partners who cover the full range of physical and financial trading matters for clients in the commodities markets. Mark Aspinall and Paul Sinnott are respected practitioners for oil and metals transactions, while John McCaskill focuses on soft commodities. Regulatory specialist David Brown is ‘a star associate’. Jenni Lajzerowicz joined Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP.

Ince & Co is ‘a go-to firm for commodities disputes thanks its good industry knowledge and a solutions-oriented approach’. The firm is known for ‘highly responsive, to-the-point and pragmatic advice’ and one client remarks that it is ‘particularly strong on oil and gas disputes’. ‘Bright, technically strong and user-friendly’ global head of trade Will Marshall ‘leads a well-honed team’ and is described as ‘a polymath and a committed and commercially pragmatic performer with fantastic judgement’. Jonathan Goldfarb acts for leading trading houses and has a strong presence in the LNG market, while Ted Graham leads the firm’s metals and mining team and advises numerous steel, nickel and iron traders, as well as clients in the oil and soft commodity sectors. Nuno Frota joined as a partner from Trafigura and Spencer Gold, formerly a senior associate at HFW, joined as a partner with a specialist focus on cross-border debt financings in the shipping, energy, commodity and mining sectors. Newly promoted partner Carl Walker has international trade and shipping expertise that includes commodity trading matters. The firm counts Trafigura, ED&F Man and Gerals Metals among its clients.

At McDermott Will & Emery UK LLP, team head David Birchall is known for his ‘in-depth knowledge of the physical energy market’. He advises major investment banks on their physical trading activities, and serves as counsel to numerous energy trading houses and agribusiness groups. Highlights included advising Intergen on its structured off-take arrangements with Citibank for unhedged power from UK assets, acting For Morgan Stanley on uncollateralised arrangements with UK power and gas suppliers First Utility and Spark Energy, as well as assisting the same client’s energy management services business with cross-border green trading matters. In the carbon trading area he helped Statkraft with a review of its US trading book and conducted an audit of its trading arrangements. Other key commodities clients include Addax Energy and JP Morgan Chase.

Based in Newcastle, Mills & Co. Solicitors Limited is a specialist maritime and international trade firm that delivers ‘excellent service with timely responses, deep industry knowledge and great value for money’. One client sees it as ‘one of the top firms for trade and shipping, always reasonable and commercial without losing sight of the legal aspects’. The firm regularly acts for large multinational trading groups based in Switzerland, London, Germany and Brazil. Bunge and Vitol are among its key clients. A large proportion of its workload consists of GAFTA and FOSFA arbitrations, arising in part from a number of Paranaguan detention claims, but non-contentious contract work is also a strong suit of the practice. Key figures include the ‘brilliantNeville Hopper, who ‘anticipates what clients need to know and is a real team player’, Jonathan Green, who is ‘very pragmatic, efficient and responsive’, and Simon Williams, who is recommended for contentious matters, particularly in relation to metals contracts. Clients note that ‘the lawyers’ advice can always be trusted and comes at a cheaper price than from London firms’.

Norton Rose Fulbright is ‘a go-to firm for physical commodities matters, whether in relation to trading or litigation’, according to one source. Clients single out banking lawyer Nicholas Grandage, who has a market-leading trade finance practice that sees him act for banks and commodities traders in transactional matters, senior associate Andrew Wood, and Neil Q. Miller, who leads the energy dispute resolution group in London and regularly handles disputes in the energy, trade and transport sectors. His experience includes international arbitration and High Court litigation, regularly acting for national oil companies and international contractors. Senior associate Holly Stebbing also advises several oil companies, oilfield services providers, utilities and petrochemical companies on upstream, midstream and downstream disputes. The firm is a key adviser to Rosneft on export contracts for crude oil, and acted for Citibank and Citigroup Global Markets in a $285m Commercial Court dispute concering contracts with commodities trader Mercuria concerning stocks of metals stored in Qingdao.

DWF’s commodities work stems from its strong shipping and insurance practice. Head of shipping and commodities Jonathan Moss handles major disputes for charterers, cargo owners and underwriters, while Michael Kingston is well known for commodities and marine insurance matters. Senior associate and former barrister Elliott Bromley is also recommended, as is Peter Olymbios. In a highlight matter the team advised commodities trader Trafigura on the loss of cargo after a fire at an oil terminal in Johor, Malaysia. At arbitration an award of $150m was made and the team is pursuing enforcement proceedings.

The bulk of Gateley Plc’s commodities practice comprises GAFTA and FOSFA arbitrations and the practice handles disputes concerning a broad range of commodites including wheat, maize, palm oil, soyabeans, rice, sugar, coal and petroleum products. Nicholas Walser, who has more than 30 years’ experience, recently acted in a $1.5m GAFTA matter for respondent sellers Soufflet Negoce arising from damages claims for non-shipment of a cargo of feed barley. The sellers counter-claimed for damages, alleging wrongful cancellation of the contract. Walser also acted for a US exporter of vegetable oils in a $5m FOSFA arbitration that concerned allegations of contamination of a cargo of corn oil.

Linklaters LLP’s commodities work stems from its strong energy, natural resources and mining practices, which gives its lawyers an in-depth understanding of the underlying markets. The firm handles significant matters concerning physical and financial commodities trading and dispute resolution, and it has a prominent market position in the buying and selling of physical commodity trading books. Chris Staplesgarners respect from clients and peers for his practical approach’. Jeremy Gewirtzis also recommended. In a key matter, the firm acted for Commonwealth Bank of America and Citi Group on the preparation of a suite of master sale and repurchase transaction documentation for a variety of commodities. The firm also counts Noble, Glencore and Castleton Commodities among its clients.

RPC is ‘a very experienced firm that is excellent in every way in the commodities space’. Its commercial disputes team has a long track record in the market and emphasised its commitment to commodities litigation with the hire of Stuart Shepherd from Ince & Co in 2016. ‘A standout lawyer in the commodities area and really at the top of his game’, Shepherd is ‘well known in the commodities space and provides an efficient and appropriate level of service; his direct and no-nonsense approach can be exactly what is required to bring some common sense to a situation’. His recent highlights include acting for Dukkar in a claim against refiner and oil storage provider MOH in a case regarding the contamination of a cargo of fuel. Also recommended are partners Simon Hart and Tim Brown, consultant Jonathan Wood, and ‘impressive’ senior associate Danyel White, who is noted for commodity contract disputes.

Thomas Cooper LLP has a long track record in the international trade and commodities market, and the practice sits alongside the firm’s strong shipping and trade finance practice. The team, led by Charles Williams, regularly acts for banks and commodity trading houses. Williams has notable skills in disputes in the energy sector, and Lisa Hillary is well regarded for shipping and trade disputes, with a niche in commodities and energy matters. Senior partner Tim Kelleher also handles contentious matters concerning oil, petrochemicals and soft commodities.

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