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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 the United Kingdon, the criteria for entry is to have been recognised by The Legal 500 as one of the elite leading lawyers for eight years. These partners are highlighted below and throughout the editorial.
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United Kingdom > London > Finance > Commodities: physicals > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings

Editorial

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Index of tables

  1. Commodities: physicals
  2. Hall of Fame
  3. Leading individuals
  4. Next generation lawyers

Leading individuals

  1. 1

Next generation lawyers

  1. 1

Who Represents Who

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 Clyde & Co LLP  'delivers excellent response times with in-depth analysis and it has good industry knowledge; it shows dedication and flexibility in reaching out to satisfy clients’ needs'. The practice is led by Marko Kraljevic, who stands out for energy disputes including upstream oil and gas cases, and disputes and arbitration specialist Michael Swangard, who is 'very reliable and reactive to any query'. Swangard recently acted for Liberty Group, which is a prominent player in the steel market, on spot trading and long-term off-take agreements as part of its programme of corporate acquisitions. Hatty Sumption is a leading light for commodity trading disputes, particularly in the oil, coal and metals markets. Sumption and Clare Hatcher, who has in-house experience at a trading company and is highly regarded for her advice on trading and regulatory matters, recently advised an energy company on a bespoke contract for the supply of marine LNG. The firm's deep bench of partners includes litigators John Whittaker, who has significant expertise in international sanctions, Eurof Lloyd-Lewis, Paul Dillon and Andrew Rourke. Clients also single out for praise senior associate Tara Smith , who is a recognised expert on the steel and iron ore industry.

HFW is 'a very strong firm in physical commodities and it provides top-ranking expertise at a reasonable price'. Alistair Feeney is 'a solid lawyer who is not afraid to give an opinion and guidance rather than sitting on the fence'. He is a leading specialist in energy commodities, particularly crude oil, petroleum products, LNG and biomass. Last year, he acted for GarantiBank International in an $8m High Court claim against Drum Risk Management arising from a large-scale misappropriation of coal from storage facilities in Turkey. Brian Perrott is an experienced litigator with more than 30 years' experience. His highlights included acting for defendant Sinocore International in a $4.9m claim brought by RBRG in the High Court for the enforcement of an arbitral award relating to a contract for cold rolled steel coils. Damian Honey advises commodity traders, producers, financiers and insurers on all aspects of their business, including physical and financial sale and purchase agreements and disputes. He handled a $1.5m cargo contamination claim for Socar Trading. Sarah Taylor is also recommended for contentious matters, as is Judith Prior, who handled a $14m arbitration for the Sugar Association of London. Chris Swart is now based in Singapore.

Hill Dickinson LLP is 'a market leader for down-to-earth advice and the strength-in-depth of the team'. The firm is a leading adviser in High Court cases and major trade association arbitral forums including GAFTA and FOSFA, notably in matters concerning grains, seeds, pulses, edible oils, fertilisers and cocoa. Soft commodities expert and practice head Jeff Isaacs is 'a market leader in advice in the commodities sector'. Other key figures include Fred Konynenburg, who is 'a brilliant legal mind and a real tactical player'; litigator Darren Wall, who is 'the guy you want to have next to you when going into battle'; Paul Taylor, who has 'rich experience in and knowledge of the trading business, with a well-thought and tactical approach'; and litigator Andrew Buchmann, who is 'very creative, practical and commercial and can second guess what you want'. Isaacs recently assisted the International Cotton Association with a challenge to its code of conduct for its arbitral process. Taylor, who has spearheaded the development of the firm's oil trading practice, acted for Gunvor in a $6m case against sellers of gasoline cargoes. Patric McGonigal joined King & Wood Mallesons Foreign Law Office in Tokyo and David Lucas left the firm to work as an arbitrator.

Reed Smith LLP¬†has 'a real team approach to work ‚Äď it seeks to ensure that the most appropriate lawyers are utilised to ensure that the product is the best possible and produced in the most cost-efficient manner'. This is possible due to the deep bench of senior talent the firm has put in place over the years.¬†Diane Galloway¬†, who 'has an encyclopaedic knowledge of the industry and the law, and gives swift, clear and concise advice', and¬†Richard Swinburn¬†lead the practice. Galloway has focused on the international commodities markets for more than 30 years and frequently acts for some of the world's largest trading houses on high-value transactions and disputes. Swinburn is similarly experienced and he is often called upon by energy and natural resources companies to advise on large matters arising from the financing, trading and transportation of bulk commodities.¬†International trade specialist¬†Andrew Meads¬†counts¬†some of the largest multinational producers, miners, trading houses and oil majors among his clients. He advises on¬†commodity contracts, disputes, and letters of credit, and he has considerable experience in arbitration.¬†Vassia Payiataki¬†has 18 years' experience in commodities and international trade disputes and 'has a very calm manner, which instils the utmost confidence in the advice being given'.¬†Paul Skeet¬†is also recommended for his work on¬†transactional matters and disputes relating to the sale, transportation and financing of commodities.¬†Newly promoted partner¬†Elizabeth Farrell¬†and¬†counsel¬†Karen Ellison¬†also play key roles in the practice.

Stephenson Harwood is 'outstanding - client-focused and with a very deep level of knowledge in this area; the advice is concise, readable and extremely useful'. Clients remark that the lawyers 'combine an understanding of the underlying commercial realities with legal inventiveness and simple hard graft, which is a perfect combination'. The firm handles the full range of commodities but has notable strength in the energy, metals and mining sectors. Among its clients are banks such as Macquarie and Rabobank, Trading houses including Mercuria and Stemcor, power companies E.ON and ENEL, and oil majors such as Repsol. 'They are among the very best and should come very highly rated' remarks one source about practice head Haris Zografakis and senior associate Mark Lakin. They advised PDVSA Services on a $129m case regarding a call for payment under a drilling contract. 'Outstanding operator and trusted adviser' Peter Bennett has more than 25 years' experience in the commodity, energy and trading markets and clients describe him as 'a senior practitioner who has a good understanding of the market and the law; he has seen it all'. Newly promoted partner Jonathan Spearing is 'very adept at advising on commodity-related contract drafting'. Paolo Ghirardani has a respected shipping and commodities disputes practice and he is the key partner for major clients Chevron and Vitol.

Watson Farley & Williams LLP has extensive experience in global commodity trading and finance, and it has a strong litigation practice that handles commodities disputes arising from trading and financing transactions. Among its clients are mining companies, commodity producers, traders, banks and governments, which call on the firm for contentious matters in the oil and gas, metals, coal, energy and soft commodities markets. Head of litigation and arbitration Andrew Savage specialises in commercial and finance disputes and international arbitration. With key litigator Andrew Hutcheon he represented international oil supplier Conapro Dena BMS in its $32m Commercial Court claim against the Government of the Gambia. The case concerned a breach of a long-term contract relating to a failure to place orders for certain oil products and several other serious allegations. The team successfully opposed the government’s challenge to the jurisdiction of the English court and the claim ultimately settled. Hutcheon also advised MRI Trading on the enforcement of an arbitral award against a Mongolian mining company. Rob Fidoe also plays a central role in the practice and specialises in international commercial arbitration. He successfully acted for Petroleum Authority of Thailand in English High Court proceedings relating to claims concerning a commodities trading risk management system.

Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP has a highly experienced team that works across physical commodities, derivatives and trade finance. The firm frequently handles physical commodity sale contract disputes with a value of up to $15m, with key partners Mark Aspinall and Paul Sinnott acting in cases involving oil and metals, and John McCaskill those involving soft commodities. For this work, it counts among its clients some of the biggest commodity trading houses in the world, as well as energy majors. 'They always impress with their solutions-oriented approach', notes one client. Sinnott and Aspinall also provide support on physical trading terms for large corporates and trading houses. Jenni Lajzerowicz joined Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP.

At Ince & Co, 'the standard of service is excellent, clients are always kept informed and feedback is provided within a realistic time frame'. The firm has 'a wealth of experience in high-value commodities disputes', which are a core element of its work in London alongside shipping and insurance. Trade and energy specialist Will Marshall leads the practice and acts for many of the world's leading trading houses including Trafigura and Glencore. 'He manages a broad practice area but is still responsive to clients', remarks one client, while another describes him as 'an outstanding intellect - icy cold under fire'. He acted for Trafigura in a $12m High Court dispute with Renbrandt Limited concerning a contract for the sale and purchase of gasoil. The firm has a deep bench of talent that includes metals and mining practice head Ted Graham (who retired from his partnership on November 1st), structured finance specialist Jonathan Goldfarb, former legal counsel at Trafigura Nuno Frota, and oil and gas trading expert Carl Walker. Senior associate and 'rising star' Ajay Ahluwalia specialises in trading disputes and relocated to London last year from the firm's office in China. He has 'excellent legal and commercial acumen, and carries a gravitas that significantly belies his PQ level'.

Linklaters LLP has a breadth of expertise across regulatory and transactional commodities matters that stems from its highly regarded energy, natural resources and mining practices. While many firms in the commodities space approach the market from a shipping and insurance perspective, the firm's understanding of underlying markets is driven by its expertise in finance and trading in specific market sectors. Its work encompasses physical precious and base metals trading and warehousing, the establishment of commodity trading platforms, and dispute resolution. The practice frequently handles complex physical commodities deals, which last year included advising a multinational finance company on a structured intermediation financing for a European refinery, and acting for the London Metals Exchange in connection with its  central electronic register for the transfer of off-warrant warehouse receipts, known as LMEshield. Chris Staples, who assisted Barclays Bank with the disposal of its commodities trading book, and Jeremy Gewirtz are co-heads of the firm's global commodities group. Noble Group, Macquarie Bank and Société Générale are among the firm's clients.

Mills & Co is a specialist trade and shipping firm based in Newcastle that was founded 25 years ago. It competes with London firms for roles in GAFTA and FOSFA arbitrations for multinational trading houses and smaller market participants. Key partners Neville Hopper and Jonathan Green are 'very good professionals with excellent knowledge; very reactive and pragmatic'. Along with Simon Williams, they have 'a strong presence in physical commodities and they regularly go toe-to-toe with the larger London firms, representing big players in the market'. Hopper recently acted for a trading house based in Geneva in a dispute concerning sales of naphtha.

Norton Rose Fulbright is regarded as a strong firm for matters arising from the production, shipping,  transportation, warehousing, collateral management, financing and hedging of physical commodities, and it frequently handles complex disputes and regulatory matters arising from such activities. Among its clients are banks, DFIs, traders, producers and exporters in both emerging and developed markets. The practice is led by Nicholas (Nick) Grandage, who is head of banking and finance for the EMEA region and who has a stellar trade finance practice. He recently acted for Louis Dreyfus Company in in the disposal of its fertilisers and inputs businesses in Europe and Africa to Helios Investment Partners, which included the restructuring of commodity financing structures. Newly promoted partner Andrew Wood specialises in structured finance transactions in the commodities sector. He advised Standard Chartered Trade Services Corporation on an advance payment supply agreement for the purchase of LME-grade metals from an Indian supplier. Also recommended are litigator Neil Miller, newly promoted disputes partner Holly Stebbing and regulatory specialist Jonathan Herbst.

RPC's international trade and commodities practice, which is part of the broader commercial disputes group, is built around key partner Stuart Shepherd, who has 'an encyclopaedic knowledge of shipping and commodities law and practice; his knowledge is exceptional and invaluable'. 'He is one of the stand-out lawyers in this area - very experienced, and really at the top of his game; clients flock to him and trust him because he is one of the best', remarks a client. He recently acted for crude oil trader Dukkar in a $2.5m Commercial Court claim against a Greek refiner and oil storage provider arising from the contamination of a cargo of fuel oil. Consultant Jonathan Wood leads the firm's international arbitration practice and frequently handles international trade matters including bilateral investment treaty claims. For Vallis Commodities Limited he handled a $20m case arising from the theft of a consignment of rice from a warehouse in Liberia during the recent ebola outbreak. Litigation partner Simon Hart, who focuses on banking, fraud and asset tracing matters, also plays a key role in the practice.

Ashurst's commodities practice comprises transactional and disputes lawyers across its international network of offices. In London, the team handles matters arising from the trading of physical commodities, structured finance transactions, project and acquisition financings, and M&A deals in the energy sector. A key strand of work for the practice is advising investment banks and trading houses on bespoke, long-term physical trading arrangements, often as part of a wider project or acquisition finance transaction. Philip Thomson leads the practice and specialises in the development and financing of LNG plants, pipelines and petrochemical facilities, as well as commodity trading transactions. He recently assisted a large seller of LNG with the restructuring of a long-term sale and purchase agreement with a national oil company. Also recommended are Antony Skinner for structured commodity trading arrangements for power, gas, coal and carbon; and co-head of the oil and gas practice Michael Burns. Angola LNG Marketing, Marubeni Corporation and Bank of America Merill Lynch are among the firm's clients.

DWF has a strong shipping and insurance practice that leads to a steady flow of commodities work. 'It offers a good, cost-effective alternative to some of the larger firms', remarks one client. Head of shipping and commodities Jonathan Moss is 'most impressive - he is a very experienced litigation partner who provides very insightful, succinct analysis of often complex legal issues'. He acted for Tonkolili Iron Ore and its parent company Shandong Steel in a high-profile case relating to their operations in Sierra Leone. In another highlight, he handled longstanding litigation between a large mining company and an Israeli billionaire concerning the rights to one of the world's largest untapped iron ore reserves. Antony Woodhouse has a strong practice in complex and international disputes, mainly in the insurance sector. Also recommended are senior associate and former barrister Elliott Bromley and senior associate Peter Olymbios, who acts in a diverse range of commodity-based disputes for both domestic and international clients. The firm counts Trafigura, Travelers Marine and Nimex Petroleum among its clients.

The shipping and transport practice at Gateley Plc frequently handles GAFTA and FOSFA arbitrations, though it also has extensive experience in disputes under other arbitration rules including RSA, LME, ICC and LCIA. Its caseload covers a wide range of commodities including wheat, maize, barley, soyabeans, palm oil, rice, sunflower seeds, raw and refined sugar, petroleum products, coal and steel. Practice head Nicholas Walser has more than 30 years’ experience in the market. His recent cases include defending buyers of a cargo of soyabean meal in a GAFTA arbitration. Highly experienced shipping partner Paul Dickie recently acted as arbitrator in a commodity sale dispute under LCIA Rules. The firm counts Soufflet Negoce among its clients.

McDermott Will & Emery UK LLP is a trusted advisor to major investment banks that are active in the commodities sector, and the firm also acts for numerous energy trading houses and agribusiness groups. It provides corporate and regulatory advice on large-scale commodities transactions, contracts and trading agreements. Counsel David Birchall leads the practice and has more than 25 years' experience in the market. His broad energy practice encompasses low-carbon, energy-efficient producers and specialists in renewables, as well as conventional electricity and gas clients. He recently assisted Intergen with structured off-take route to market arrangements for unhedged power from its UK assets with Citibank. He also advised JPMorgan Chase on regulatory and risk matters, as well as trading arrangements. He also counts ADDAX, The Energy Consortium and Actuant among his clients.

'Streamlined and focused' litigation boutique Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP has a growing presence in energy and natural resources disputes. The London practice, under key partner Ted Greeno, has a great depth of experience in oil and gas, metals, mining and power and commodity trading disputes and the team frequently handles contentious matters arising from downstream oil and gas, long-term gas and LNG supply agreements, and the supply and trading of metals, minerals, coal and petrochemicals for some of the world's leading energy companies and commodities trading houses. Greeno has 30 years' experience and his track record includes international arbitrations involving disputes in Africa, the Middle East, Indonesia, China, India, North America, South America, Central Africa, Australia, the UK and continental Europe. The firm hired Jenni Lajzerowicz as of counsel from Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP to add specialist expertise in oil, gas and commodities disputes. She recently acted for a Japanese oil, gas and metals company in a large LNG trading case, and advised an oil company on a multimillion-dollar oil trading case.

Thomas Cooper LLP is a key player in commodities and trade finance, with a strong flow of work in sugar, grain and vegetable oil cases under GAFTA and FOSFA arbitral rules. The commodities practice is closely entwined with the firm's shipping practice and has a strong track record in international trade disputes. Practice head Charles Williams frequently represents banks and commodity trading houses, and he is a legal adviser to the industry bodies in sectors such as sugar and metals. The arrival of Mark Sachs, who recently returned from the firm's Singapore office, adds significant experience in wet and dry shipping and commodity disputes. Lisa Hillary is well regarded for shipping and trade disputes and senior partner Tim Kelleher frequently handles international trade disputes involving oil and petrochemicals. The firm counts Banco Santander, ED&F Man Sugar and Bank of China among its clients.

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