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The Legal 500 Hall of Fame Icon The Legal 500 Hall of Fame highlights individuals who have received constant praise by their clients for continued excellence. The Hall of Fame highlights, to clients, the law firm partners who are at the pinnacle of the profession. In Europe, Middle East and Africa, the criteria for entry is to have been recognised by The Legal 500 as one of the elite leading lawyers for seven consecutive years. These partners are highlighted below and throughout the editorial.
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United Arab Emirates > Dispute resolution > Arbitration and international litigation > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings

Editorial

Index of tables

  1. Dispute resolution: arbitration and international litigation
  2. Leading individuals
  3. Next generation lawyers

Leading individuals

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Next generation lawyers

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Who Represents Who

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This table covers arbitration and free zone (primarily DIFC) court work, as well as management of cross-border litigation. Litigation before the ‘onshore’ courts is covered separately.

Clifford Chance provides ‘a consistently high level of service, as one would expert from a leading global firm – its service delivery gives much assurance to its clients’. James Abbott (‘approachable, practical, hugely experienced and very easy to deal with’) and senior associate Shane Jury handle DIFC Court litigation, often concerning the financial services sector. Matthew Shanahan joined Baker McKenzie Habib Al Mulla in October 2017.

Clyde & Co LLP attracts praise for its ability to ‘understand the client’s business requirements in order to give appropriate legal advice’. Susie Abdel-Nabi and senior associate Nicholas Braganza ‘are an impressive and dependable combination’ – they represented Sky News Arabia in a DIFC Court dispute against Kassab Media, which was contracted to sell advertising on the channel. Keith Hutchison is a name to note for telecoms sector-related international arbitrations, as well as DIFC court disputes. Nassif Boumalhab is ‘excellent in dispute strategy’ – he handles international arbitrations in English and Arabic.

Allen & Overy LLP’s team, which handles a range of heavyweight commercial and investor-state arbitration, as well as complex DIFC litigation, is ‘very level-headed, with excellent strength in depth’. Christopher Mainwaring-Taylor and senior associate Yacine Francis are ‘extremely able, with excellent client-care skills’ – they are representing First Abu Dhabi Bank in DIFC Court litigation against Das Real Estate concerning an AED669m construction finance loan. Investor-state arbitration highlights included Mainwaring-Taylor and Simon Roderick’s representation of Masdar in an ICSID claim against Spain brought under the Energy Charter Treaty. Other clients include the Oman government, which the team is defending against an ICSID claim brought by Samsung Engineering.

Clients are ‘extremely pleased’ with Baker Botts L.L.P.’s ‘written work and advocacy’. The team handles arbitrations concerning insurance, construction and joint venture disputes. Key names include Philip Punwar, Stephen Burke and Lucas Pitts. Clients include real estate businesses, oil and gas companies and public sector bodies. Jonathan Sutcliffe is now with K&L Gates.

Handling international arbitrations and DIFC Court litigation, Baker McKenzie Habib Al Mullamakes clients confident that their cases are being well-handled’. Key names include Habib Al Mulla, whose work includes construction arbitrations and litigation, senior associate Sally Kotb, and counsel Céline Abi Habib Kanakri. Andrew Mackenzie joined from Hogan Lovells (Middle East) LLP. Charlotte Bijlani is now at Watson Farley & Williams. Matthew Shanahan was a new arrival from Clifford Chance in 2017.

DLA Piper Middle East LLP’s ‘responsive’ disputes practice includes Henry Quinlan, who led a team that successfully defended Niranjan Hiranandani in a long-running multi-jurisdictional case brought by Hirco, culminating in a Singapore arbitral award in 2016. Wissam Dagher, who made partner in May 2017, is a name of note for matters that cross over with local court litigation. Also recommended are Ramsey Jurdi, who is noted for US regulatory and sanctions matters, and Adam Vause, who is representing Credit Suisse in a trade finance dispute.

At Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Sami Tannous, who made partner in May 2017 and has expertise in commercial and investment treaty arbitrations, acted alongside the firm’s London office for Beijing Urban Construction Group in an ICSID claim against the government of Yemen regarding an airport terminal project. Also recommended are Erin Miller Rankin, who has construction arbitration expertise, and counsel Kim Rosenberg, who heads the firm’s global investigations practice in MENA. Jonathan Rawlings returned to the London office.

Hadef & Partners LLC handles DIFC litigation and international arbitration, ranging from debt recovery through to shipping, professional indemnity and product liability. Adrian Chadwick, Walid Azzam and executive partner Richard Briggs are key contacts. Other names of note include senior legal consultant Matthew Page. John Smy is a name of note for construction disputes. Clients include Protiviti, as well as international names in banking, technology and leading real estate players. Mahmoud Awad joined Reed Smith in November 2018.

Herbert Smith Freehills LLP provides ‘particularly helpful and pragmatic advice’ on banking, M&A and construction disputes, and attracts praise for its ‘meticulous eye for detail’. Stuart Paterson (‘particularly well-versed in DIFC case law as well as banking and financial crime’) handles work ranging from internal investigations through to insurance disputes. Caroline Kehoe, who is rated for her ‘profound understanding of what clients need’, handles energy-related disputes for Gazprom Neft. ‘Arbitration and construction law specialist’ Craig Shepherd handles disputes regarding projects ranging from energy infrastructure through to skyscrapers. Senior associate Sean Whitham is also recommended.

King & Wood Mallesons is ‘very good at managing clients, setting clever strategies and dealing with large-value cases on a local and international level’. The firm has expertise in commercial and construction disputes, including high-profile DIFC cases, arbitration and litigation. Tim Taylor QC is ‘always able to deliver the best strategy and advocacy to suit his clients’ requirements’ – he represented Meydan Group, a cornerstone client, in litigation with key issues regarding the limits of the jurisdiction of the DIFC Courts. Joanne Strain (who is ‘building a portfolio of her own high-profile cases’) regularly acts in enforcement proceedings at the DIFC. Ghassan El Daye joined Charles Russell Speechlys LLP.

Norton Rose Fulbright represents key local, regional and global clients in commercial, banking and engineering disputes. Patrick Bourke, who heads the practice, handles cases ranging from commercial through to construction. Also recommended are Paul Stothard, who handles engineering cases, and Orlando Vidal, a former US attorney who handles internal investigations. Deirdre Walker relocated from the London office to head the firm’s Middle East offering. Of counsel Peter Wood is also a name of note.

Afridi & Angell has ‘a small but very knowledgeable arbitration team’, which ‘provides good advice and guidance in managing clients’ legal issues’. Haider Afridi handles matters ranging from debt recovery, commercial covering both arbitration and expert determination as well as DIFC and cross-border litigation. Counsel Chatura Randeniyaprovides strong common-sense guidance and exhibits broad local knowledge’.

Al Tamimi & Company handles commercial and construction arbitrations, as well as free zone litigation. Rita Jaballah, who heads the firm’s DIFC courts practice, represented the DIFC Authority in DIFC Court litigation as part of a construction dispute with Brookfield concerning the Gate building. Thomas Snider, who joined in February 2017 from Greenberg Traurig LLP’s Washington DC office, has expertise in joint venture disputes. Tarek Shrayh is also a name of note for DIFC litigation. Paul Turner has retired.

Dentons, which handles construction disputes and DIFC litigation, ‘has good local knowledge and understanding’. Matthew Showler (‘a first-rate strategist and case manager’) represented Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank in an AED156m case against a defaulting borrower. Alastair Young and Ian Dalley are noted for their construction dispute expertise. Associate Dilpreet Dhanoa joined from 4-5 Gray's Inn Square.

A well-established firm in Dubai with some extremely active and able young lawyers’, HFW handles construction arbitration and DIFC litigation, with a particular strength in insurance. Richard Gimblett is representing Mozambique Airlines and its insurers in claims arising from an air crash in Namibia in 2013. John Barlow is another key contact for insurance-related disputes, as is Samuel Wakerley, who is also representing Cisco Systems in litigation against an Irish debtor in the DIFC courts. Richard Strub is a name of note for enforcing arbitral awards in the DIFC. Yaman Al Hawamdeh, who has shipping expertise, is a key contact for Arabic-language hearings. James Harbridge was a new arrival from Trowers & Hamlins LLP in July 2018.

Key figures at King & Spalding LLP include Adrian Cole in Abu Dhabi, who handles construction, finance and investment fund disputes, and counsel and English-qualified barrister Zeeshan Dhar in Dubai, who joined form Al Tamimi & Company. Dhar handles arbitrations and DIFC litigation, including representing Riyadh Bank in seeking enforcement of an arbitral award. John Packer is a key senior associate.

Pinsent Masons LLP is ‘very client-focused and responsive, providing strong and practical advice’. ‘Exceptional lawyer’ Damian Crosse, who is based in Dubai, represented Daman Health Insurance in a pioneering Qatar Financial Centre case regarding health insurance coverage. Michelle Nelson and Jed Savager handle construction disputes, as does Sachin Kerur, who ‘has deep experience and can strategise effectively’. Also recommended are legal director Mahmoud Selim and Luke Tapp, who was made partner in 2018 and is singled out for employment-related disputes.

For some, Squire Patton Boggs is ‘among the top international arbitration practices in the MENA region’. Alain Farhad (‘one of the rising stars of international arbitration’) is representing Investment Group Private Limited in a DIFC case brought by Standard Chartered involving alleged unpaid debts, and is handling the merits element of the Croatian government’s defence of an ICSID claim brought under the Energy Charter Treaty. Other key figures include Tom Wilson, who ‘understands the oil and gas industry very well’, Scott Hutton, who handles DIFC court work, and associate Richard Gibbon, who handles government investigations.

At Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP, Raza Mithani is representing Alistair Group in a case involving novel issues of economic duress under DIFC law. Charles Lilley and Richard Davies handle construction disputes. Other clients include Nakheel.

CMSbrings a track record in energy, projects and construction to a region where such expertise is very important for disputes work’. Jeremie Witt handles shipbuilding, commercial and engineering disputes, and Randall Walker, who made partner in May 2017, is a name to note for energy arbitrations.

Eversheds Sutherland LLP handles a range of cross-border matters covering sectors including finance and media. Key figures include Nasser Ali Khasawneh, who handles English and Arabic-language arbitrations, and Rebecca Copley, whose work includes civil fraud and mis-selling cases. Paul Taylor, who has commercial and construction dispute expertise, joined in January 2018 from Reed Smith.

At Hogan Lovells (Middle East) LLP, Nabeel Ikram handles a range of DIAC and ICC arbitrations, including joint venture, franchising and construction disputes, as well as free zone court litigation. Counsel Andrew Mackenzie is now at Baker McKenzie Habib Al Mulla.

Jones Day’s Sheila Shadmand is representing an education company in an LCIA arbitration against its Omani distributor against a backdrop of alleged fraud in the UAE. Her work also includes construction disputes. Of counsel Pierre Heitzmann is also a key contact.

KBH Kaanuun has ‘an enviable track record before the DIFC Courts’. Bushra Ahmed (who is praised for her ‘substantial experience handling the heaviest cases’) is representing KBC Aldini Capital in a DIFC court dispute against David Baazov and Canaccord Genuity. Other key figures include DK Singh, who is ‘urbane, knowledgeable and experienced’, and barrister Patrick Dillon-Malone.

K&L Gates handles a range of arbitrations, including insurance and oil and gas disputes. Neal Brendel handles international arbitrations, with notable expertise in construction and commercial matters, while Nazanin Aleyaseen handles heavyweight health and safety work and civil fraud matters, as well as arbitrations. Clients include Libyan Emirates Oil Refining Company and Mott McDonald. Rabih Tabbara is now at DWF. Jonathan Sutcliffe was a new arrival from Baker Botts L.L.P.. Monique O’Donoghue joined Covington & Burling LLP’s London office as of counsel in 2018.

Kennedys is noted for its handling of construction disputes and arbitrations in the insurance space. Key figures include Mark Wilson, who regularly acts for contractors, Peter Ellingham, who is ‘very knowledgeable in insurance and reinsurance matters’, and Nick Humphrey, who joined from Clyde & Co LLP and is ‘extremely strong – he leads teams and cases very well’. Humphrey’s expertise includes aviation and energy disputes.

Simmons & Simmons Middle East LLP handles a range of dispute resolution matters, with an emphasis on arbitration. Payam Beheshti’s wide-ranging expertise covers investment fund arbitrations and Dubai Financial Services Authority regulatory matters. David Risbridger has expertise in construction disputes before DIAC and ADCCAC.

Stephenson Harwood’s dispute work often has a maritime or engineering nexus. Rovine Chandrasekera represented Midtown Acquisitions in enforcing a £172m New York judgment against Essar Global Fund in the UAE, which involved using the DIFC courts as a conduit to assets held in Dubai but outside the DIFC. Edward Newitt and James Willn handle shipping disputes, and counsel Paige Crewson acts in engineering cases.

Trowers & Hamlins LLP handles a number of engineering disputes, with clients noting that ‘the quality of client care, preparation and case execution is among the best you can get in Dubai’. Key figures include Cheryl Cairns and senior associate Humayun Ahmad. James Harbridge joined HFW in July 2018.

At Addleshaw Goddard, Andrew Greaves and legal director Paul Hughes (who is ‘well-respected in the market: tough, but never over the line’) are representing Multiplex Constructions in a dispute in the DIFC courts regarding the Gate building. The firm also handles LCIA arbitrations involving joint venture disputes. Bevan Farmer has construction dispute expertise.

At Ashurst in Abu Dhabi, Dyfan Owen represents oil and gas clients, as well as contractors and procurers in construction disputes. Associate James MacDonald is a key name in Dubai.

Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle LLP handles commercial litigation and arbitration in the DIFC courts. Key figures include partner Thomas Geuther and counsels Ali Arshad and Serena Boscia Montalbano.

Fatma Al Mutawa Advocates and Legal Consultants’ team handles arbitrations involving real estate, joint ventures and commercial disputes. Charles Ingmire represented Navigant Consulting in a dispute over fees for services in an arbitration. Talal Al Qaisi is representing Middle East Real Estate Group in several matters.

Galadari, Advocates & Legal Consultants handles various commercial and construction disputes. Thanos Karvelis and senior associate Daniel Brawn represent a mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) contractor in an AED2bn UAE law arbitration against the main contractor and other subcontractors.

At Gibson Dunn, Graham Lovett secured a freezing order over funds in a bank for a Dublin company in liquidation. The practice is also active in joint venture disputes.

Horizons & Co represents real estate developers in leasing, construction and finance disputes. Areen Jayousi heads the arbitration practice, with firm chairman Ali Al Zarooni and associate Daniel Breytenbach also names of note.

Ince & Co handles a range of arbitrations and some DIFC litigation, generally along the firm’s strength in shipping. Brian Boahene represents The Swedish Club in a Dubai World Tribunal case following the collapse of a crane after a ship hit a harbour wall. Rania Tadros represented D’Amico Shipping in a case with conflict of jurisdiction issues between the DIFC and the Dubai courts. Pavlo Samothrakis is also a name of note.

Shearman & Sterling LLP’s Alex Bevan, working with the firm’s other offices, handles construction disputes concerning projects ranging from hospitals and offshore vessels through to airports and nuclear power stations.

At Vinson & Elkins LLP, Amir Ghaffari handles arbitrations concerning infrastructure projects and EPC contracts. Alongside work for various other energy players, he worked with the firm’s other offices, representing Iraq’s oil ministry in a dispute regarding the Iraq-Turkey pipeline, which was allegedly used by the Kurdistan Regional Government to export Kurdish oil without Baghdad’s consent.

White & Case LLP represents owners in high-value construction and infrastructure arbitrations. Michael Turrini is a key contact.

At Winston & Strawn LLP, practice head Ben Bruton, who handles construction and financial services disputes, is ‘intelligent, approachable and is a true leader; he has a real ability to motivate and drive forward his team in order to achieve the best for his client’. Of counsel Nick Sharratt is ‘exceptionally good with clients’. Bruton and Sharratt both joined from Eversheds Sutherland LLP in July 2017.

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