Essex Court Chambers is 'top of the list for international arbitration' with a 'deep bench of excellent barristers'. The set has been a market leader for some time, but hasn't rested on its laurels, with the arrivals of Alison Macdonald QC and Angeline Welsh from Matrix Chambers and Sean Aughey from 11KBW, which together is considered 'quite a coup' by observers. Notable cases include VRG Linhas Aereas SA v MatlinPatterson Opportunities II LP in which Emily Wood is representing the private equity group MatlinPatterson in a challenged arbitral award. Paul Key QC is appearing in Karkey Karadeniz Elektrik Uretim A.S. v The Islamic Republic of Pakistan.
International arbitration: counsel in London Bar
3 Verulam Buildings' 'depth in the field of arbitration has grown consistently over the past few years,' and 'they are catching up with the traditional top sets for general commercial arbitration'. In recent years the set has made astute recruits from among the ranks of experienced arbitration solicitors, and this has started to pay dividends with high-profile instructions. Notable highlights include KLS Energy Lanka v Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, an ICSID claim in which Christopher Harris QC and Mark Wassouf are representing KLS Energy Lanka. Ewan McQuater QC and Paul Wee are also representing TC Ziraat Bank in the epic Sonera Holding v Cukurova Holding LCIA arbitration. In recent news, Rajesh Pillai took silk in 2020.
7 King's Bench Walk 'has considerable strength in depth in the areas of insurance and arbitration law', and clients 'would feel confident in using any junior or senior from this set'. Insurance, reinsurance and shipping-related claims tend to dominate, though members have expertise in related areas, such as energy and infrastructure. Michael Holmes and Dominic Kendrick QC were recently on opposing sides in an LCIA oil and gas-related business interruption claim. Alistair Schaff QC, leading two other members, are also facing Gavin Kealey QC in an extremely high-profile product liability dispute in the pharmaceuticals sector.
Atkin Chambers is praised for its 'excellent bench strength amongst the silks and an impressive crop of senior juniors'. Clients also appreciate the 'very thorough and business-like style across the board without the need to grandstand or add undue flair to their delivery'. Construction, energy and infrastructure-related arbitrations dominate the workload, and the set's members and clerks have established excellent connections to the Middle Eastern and Far Eastern markets. Manus McMullan QC and Christopher Lewis QC are among those with lead roles on disputes arising from the Panama Canal Third Set of Locks project. Nicholas Dennys QC and Sebastian Pigott are acting together on a major rail infrastructure dispute in Asia.
Keating Chambers is a 'go-to construction and energy set' with 'a ready availability of counsel'. The barristers are 'real specialists who know their trade inside out', and have 'a very strong domestic and international arbitration tradition'. Aside from its 'unparalleled strength in depth', which was increased following the arrival of Sean Wilken QC and Rachael O’Hagan from 39 Essex Chambers, clients also appreciate the set's 'very informative and well-run webinars'. Major recent cases included an African power dispute in which David Thomas QC led a team of four juniors, including Jennie Wild, while Simon Hughes QC led the four-member team of opposing counsel.
One Essex Court 'has excellent strength in depth' and always 'gives good service and the work is of a high standard'. Clients add that 'you can pick horses for courses and almost always feel like you've backed a winner'. As well as commercial claims, members such as Alex Gunning QC are experienced in natural resources and infrastructure disputes, a recent example being his advice to the respondent in Xstrata Coal v Benxi Iron & Steel. Several members, including David Wolfson QC, Daniel Toledano QC, Neil Kitchener QC and Alain Choo Choy QC were involved in Cruz City 1 Mauritius Holdings v Unitech Ltd & Ors and its enforcement. In recent news, Conall Patton QC took silk in early 2020.
Twenty Essex offers top-notch expertise in areas of traditional strength, such as international trade and shipping, as well as broader commercial disputes. The set's provision of highly experienced senior silks is matched by an impressive up-flow of impressive juniors. Members are regularly instructed on major disputes, such as PL Holdings S.A.R.L -and- Republic of Poland, in which Sara Masters QC and Belinda McRae lead Poland's bid to set aside a BIT arbitration award, with Phillip Riches QC among the opposing counsel. Riches and Henry Byam-Cook boosted chambers at the senior end following their respective elevations to silk, plus the arrival of highly-rated former solicitor advocate Wendy Miles QC from Debevoise & Plimpton LLP is a further demonstration of the set's commitment to international arbitration.
39 Essex Chambers 'has real strength in depth in the field of international arbitration'. Satisfied clients report that 'all the barristers we met and worked with are qualified professionals with deep knowledge of law and they were always valuable additions to our team'. The set stands out for its 'deep bench of construction specialists' and its reach in the Far East was cemented by the opening of premises in Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. Members regularly work together, with Paul Darling QC leading Samar Abbas on a significant HKIAC arbitration, while a highlight for Stuart Catchpole QC was assisting Tepe in Botas v Tepe, concerning a Turkish pipeline construction project.
4 New Square 'is becoming one of the top sets for commercial international arbitration now and their expertise in public international law is making them increasingly a go-to set for investment arbitrations too'. A healthy mix of experienced silks and juniors, several of which are former solicitors, has seen the set establish an increasingly strong presence in the market. Members regularly act together on cases, including Justin Fenwick QC and Timothy Chelmick, who represented the defendant in a major energy dispute. Roger Stewart QC and George Spalton were also involved in a significant development-related arbitration in Dubai.
4 Pump Court has 'excellent strength in depth' with 'fantastic counsel, good clerks and a deep sector knowledge'. The set is considered 'go-to for IT and telecoms disputes', while in 'construction arbitration, some genuinely star performers stand out'. Clients also acknowledge the set's 'genuine commitment overseas' in terms of being 'very active working and maintaining relationships in various jurisdictions', including the Middle East and Asia. Highlight cases include Pakistan v Broadsheet, in which Nigel Tozzi QC was among several members involved representing Broadsheet. Sean O’Sullivan QC also led a team, including Alexander Wright, on a dispute related to a major Asian shipyard.
Blackstone Chambers is a 'very strong set' with 'lots of great people' who have a strong international outlook, with expertise in commercial and investment treaty arbitrations across a range of jurisdictions. Among the members, Harish Salve QC is especially strong on India-related disputes. The set is also noted for its strong experience in sports-related arbitrations, an area where Ian Mill QC excels. He recently represented the respondent in the ICC arbitration: Pakistan Cricket Board v Board of Control of Cricket in India. Alan Maclean QC and Andrew Scott also recently acted for the claimant in a fraud dispute that went to ICC arbitration.
Brick Court Chambers is 'a pleasure to work with, from the receptionist to the QCs' and it 'has a number of excellent practitioners in international arbitration, and a growing presence in the area'. The set's silks and juniors draw from a broad and deep range of experience. Neil Calver QC (elevated to the High Court on 1 October 2020) and Ben Woolgar represented Equitas in Pakistan Reinsurance Company v Equitas, in which an arbitrator was being challenged. Harry Matovu QC, who is especially noted for his experience in Africa-related disputes, recently represented the Nigerian government in Process and Industrial Developments Ltd v Federal Republic of Nigeria, concerning the enforcement of an arbitration award.
Fountain Court Chambers is an 'excellent set with some real star silks' and also some 'really excellent and talented juniors who can pick up cases quickly and easily'. Members have strong links to and experience of the market's key arbitration forums, such as the LCIA, where Anneliese Day QC was appointed to the Board in 2019. The set's commitment to the Asian market was demonstrated by its permanent presence in Singapore. Notable cases include Sonera v Cukurova Telecom/Alfa Telecom, where Bankim Thanki QC and Ben Valentin QC represented Sonera. Among the juniors, Alexander Milner is representing Naftogaz in its $100bn dispute with Gazprom.
Quadrant Chambers is 'great for international commercial disputes' and 'the set is strong throughout'. Clients note that 'the QCs are less stuffy and more commercial than at other sets which is a real selling point. Most of the juniors are very capable across the arbitral sector and most have extensive knowledge of most sets of arbitral rules'. Simon Rainey QC is widely considered a leader in the field and represented Unipec in Unipec China v China Petroleum Sonangol. Andrew Guy Blackwood QC is also representing Greece in Privinvest (and others) v The Hellenic Republic of Greece, an ICCC arbitration concerning the construction of military submarines.
Crown Office Chambers is 'a substantial player, particularly in the construction/insurance field, and is certainly a counterweight to the other established sets in that space'. The set's members are especially experienced in Middle East-related disputes and have been involved in several large-scale arbitrations involving contested infrastructure projects. Roger Ter Haar QC and Andrew Rigney QC remain leading players in the market, while Crispin Winser has established himself as one of its most sought after juniors.