Firms in the Spotlight Dispute resolution: arbitration and international litigation

Motei & Associates

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Dispute resolution: arbitration and international litigation in United Arab Emirates

Al Tamimi & Company

Al Tamimi & Company's practice in this space covers a wide range of work, and in particular is praised for its DIFC courts practice, headed by Rita Jaballah, who is notable for her role in some of the free zone's biggest cases. Locally-qualified firm chairman Essam Al Tamimi continues to be instructed in selected arbitration cases, and Egyptian-qualified arbitration specialist Naief Yahia is also notable, as is senior counsel Peter Woods. In Abu Dhabi, John Gaffney (a senior counsel) has experience as an arbitrator for bodies as diverse as DIAC and WIPO. In terms of advocacy, the team also includes senior counsel Patrick Dillon-Malone SC, a silk at the Irish Bar. This practice also dovetails with the firm's ability to litigate before the Arabic language onshore courts. Peter Smith left the firm in 2021.

Practice head(s):

Essam Al Tamimi; Hassan Arab; Rita Jaballah; Thomas Snider

Other key lawyers:

Naief Yahia; Peter Woods; John Gaffney; Patrick Dillon-Malone SC

Key clients

Walch & Schurti Attorneys At Law

beIn Sports

Oman Insurance Company

Mashreq Bank


Dusty Tourani

Credit Suisse

LG Electronics

Al Suwaidi Engineering Group

First Abu Dhabi Bank

FAB Securities


El Seif Engineering

KT & G

Standard Chartered Bank




Majid Al Futtaim Group

Work highlights

  • Representing Oman Insurance Company in defending a joint venture dispute with a third party claims administrator.
  • Representing Straight Establishment, a Liechtenstein Anstalt which owns the superyacht Luna, in DIFC proceedings concerning the enforcement of an English matrimonial judgment.
  • Representing the Securities and Exchange Commission, the US regulator, in securing freezing orders in the DIFC.

Allen & Overy LLP

Yacine Francis continues to head the dispute resolution practice at Allen & Overy LLP. In addition to work in the DIFC courts, primarily for banks, Francis handles a range of international arbitration matters, covering commercial disputes and investor-state matters. Kirsten O’Connell, who was recently promoted to the partnership, also leads arbitration work, including M&A disputes and investor-state work. Senior associate and English solicitor Arash Koozehkanani is a key emerging name in the team, and clients also praise associate Edward McCullagh.

Practice head(s):

Yacine Francis

Other key lawyers:

Kirsten O’Connell; Arash Koozehkanani; Edward McCullagh


‘The A&O team are a cut above the rest in terms of their commercial, and technical acumen.’

‘Edward McCullagh is a star associate. He has an impressive, and diverse, skillset. He has been invaluable on a number of important cases.’

Key clients


Work highlights

  • Representing IDBI Bank in litigation before the DIFC Court of Appeal concerning alleged breaches of a financial instrument.

Clyde & Co LLP

Clyde & Co LLP has a broad practice, covering both a full spectrum of elite international arbitration work and advising on local court matters, as well as continuing some of the themes in its home market practice such as professional liability. Practice head Mark Beswetherick and John Lewis are active in professional negligence work, primarily for the Big Four but also for law firms, while Keith Hutchison is also active in the DIFC courts. Susie Abdel-Nabi is involved both in arbitration as well as working with UAE advocates on local litigation, and Nassif Boumalhab is another, Canadian-qualified, key name with a track record of handling his own advocacy. Legal director Alexandra Lester is also noted. A number of instructions have Chinese elements, or involve more remote geographies in the region.

Practice head(s):

Mark Beswetherick

Other key lawyers:

John Lewis; Keith Hutchison; Susie Abdel-Nabi; Nassif Boumalhab; Alfred Thornton; Alexandra Lester

Key clients

Sunteck Lifestyles Limited

Larmag Holding BV

Sky News Arabia

Work highlights

  • Acted for Sunteck (together with associated firm in Singapore, Clasis LLC) in a shareholder dispute that involved defending a dissolution claim in the DIFC Courts.
  • Acting for Larmag, as the claimant, in a recovery dispute before the DIFC courts against FAB and its customer, the alleged fraudster.
  • Represented Sky News Arabia in the DIFC courts, where the client was awarded the judgment in full together with interest and costs in a dispute with a commercial partner responsible for coordinating sponsorship for the channel.

DLA Piper

DLA Piper's Henry Quinlan heads the firm's broader litigation, arbitration and investigations practice in the region, which is praised for its 'great strategic insight on resolving complex litigation matters'. Quinlan's workload includes a range of international, cross-border disputes with highlights of late including debt recovery and joint venture matters. Beirut Bar-admitted Wissam Dagher, as head of onshore litigation, works with UAE advocates on a range of cross-border cases, including shareholder and joint venture disputes as well as the enforcement of arbitral awards.

Practice head(s):

Henry Quinlan

Other key lawyers:

Wissam Dagher; Ramsey Jurdi; Adam Vause


‘I think the team has requisite legal specialists with the appropriate business acumen working to their strengths to provide significant value add to their clients. DLA’s collaborative approach with other advisors is key to ensuring the clients receive the best possible service. DLA’s global network also ensures that the required expertise is available if and when required on global engagements.’

‘The individuals I have worked with at DLA are all market leaders in their fields. They bring insight, innovation and a collaborative approach on the engagements I have worked on with them. Three stand-out partners that I have worked with are Henry Quinlan (international arbitration and asset tracing), Adam Vause on particular focus on fraud, asset tracing, compliance and investigation matters and Ramsey Jurdi on regulatory matters. Each are specialised in there respective fields internationally but also understand how to get things done in the local market ’

‘Extremely responsive, dedicated and attentive to its clients’ needs. Great strategic insight on resolving complex litigation matters. Diversified team both geographically and technically. Very well connected.’

‘The DLA team feels amalgamated with our team as one.’

Key clients

Hircon International LLC

ETI Specialized Finance Company LLC(“ESFC”), Ecobank Nigeria Limited (“Ecobank Nigeria”) and EBI SA (“EBI”)

Sociedad Química y Minera de Chile (“SQM”)

Work highlights

  • Acted for Hircon International LLC in a dispute with Dubai Civil Engineering LLC concerning the 23 Marina development in relation to complex issues in relation to delay, variations and defects.
  • Acting on behalf of Ecobank Nigeria, ESFC and EBI in relation to debt recovery proceedings against an international construction group under a deed of guarantee.
  • Representing Sociedad Química y Minera de Chile (“SQM”) in a major shareholders dispute pertaining to a joint venture investment in Abu Dhabi (UAE).

King & Wood Mallesons

'The best destination for difficult cases' according to many, King & Wood Mallesons is active in a range of matters including sensitive DIFC Court litigation with challenging jurisdictional issues, as well as cross-border international arbitrations concerning global trade, often acting for a broad range of clients outside the financial services industry. Tim Taylor QC (one of few solicitor-advocate silks) - a 'charismatic and stylish advocate' - heads the team, and other key names include Joanne Strain, who is increasingly appointed as an arbitrator; Daniel Xu, who is qualified in Singapore and able to combine English-language advocacy and Mandarin with clients; and counsel Parnika Chaturvedi.

Practice head(s):

Tim Taylor QC

Other key lawyers:

Joanne Strain; Daniel Xu; Parnika Chaturvedi; Brendan Palmer


‘Energetic and on the ball team. Creative ideas and determined to achieve good results for their clients. ’

‘Tim Taylor QC is a charismatic and stylish advocate willing to fight his client’s corner. ’

Their assistance has been second to none in helping us resolve so-called margin call disputes (involving unpaid margin owed to us, or the late payment and collection of debts) with clients.

KWM is a very close-knit firm. They are very well practised at drawing on their collective knowledge of our financial services business of broker-dealers and they know how we seek to resolve disputes, by switching seamlessly between a more conciliatory approach to move to a more firm and aggressive stance.

‘ Joanne Strain is very hands-on and pro-active in the management of disputes we refer to her, her team is very well respected in the region and she takes a very commercial and pragmatic approach. She is very ably assisted by counsel Parnika Chaturvedi, who is a pleasure to deal with and also shares much of the heavy-lifting with Jo Strain. Associate Brendan Palmer complements their team with his banking and finance skills. ’

‘The team is very diligent, creative and up to date on all matters handled by them. There is never a point that they are not to date on at any point in the day irrespective of the different complex matters they handle on a daily basis. Furthermore, I believe that the team is extremely creative in their legal strategy towards different cases; often coming up with complex strategies to combat legal cases in favour of their client. ’

‘The managing partner Tim Taylor QC has been very interesting to work with, as he takes an active interest in his cases and brings about the creative element in litigation. Partner Joanne Strain has been very valuable as she is always available to assist even in the smallest of matters and make sure all her clients are at ease; she too becomes the voice of reason when coming to legal strategies in all cases. Parnika Chaturvedi would have to be the biggest asset to the firm, wherein she is extremely methodical, precise, up to date on all matters and very knowledgeable on all fronts of any case she handles. ’

‘Tim Taylor QC is very amiable, clever and effective, and combines vast experience of the region with an engaging style.’

‘Daniel Xu and his outstanding team always work in a direction that aims to inspire, guide and maintain close contact with clients to support their clients in achieving great legal success.’

‘KWH’s approach of understanding our behaviour, strength and weaknesses, and communication plays a key role. The written legal opinions are simple, tailored, and easy to understand. ’

‘Daniel Xu has been our legal advisor for a number of years and has been representing us in various projects in the UAE and Middle East. As a Singapore qualified partner based in the UAE for more than 10 years, he works effectively across both civil and common law issues. He has strong communication skills in both English and Chinese and works very well with our management and projects teams. Daniel is commercially savvy and is able to think out of the box to offer creative solutions in dispute avoidance and management.’

‘Daniel Xu is English and Chinese speaking. Moreover, he has deep understanding of international legal practice, local legal practice, and also Chinese mindset and project management style. This combination makes him able to bridge the culture difference between various parties and find a convincing solution for all. I really appreciate his approach to resolve disputes from a business standing instead of a pure legal argument.’

‘Joanne Strain can rapidly disentangle complex engineering disputes, level headed and remains calm under pressure.

Parnika Chaturvedi is a truly gifted lawyer, articulate and blessed with a near photographic memory and eye for detail.

‘Attention to detail when working with experts, knows their cases well and proactive in engagement. ’

‘Jo Strain & Parnika Chaturvedi are excellent individuals in the team. ’

‘Daniel Xu is an experienced Singapore qualified disputes and arbitration partner who has been based in the Middle East for over a decade. He has a steady grasp of both common and civil law and he is highly efficient in cross border and multi-jurisdictional disputes.’

‘KWM are innovative and highly responsive. They are the best destination for difficult cases. Tim Taylor and his team will regularly come up with points which others have missed and are masters at pulling together a case where none previously existed.’

Key clients

Meydan Group LLC

Former senior management of New Medical Centre (NMC), UAE Exchange and Finablr

Creditor of Phoenix Limited

Al Rihab

Work highlights

  • Representing the former senior management of New Medical Centre, UAE Exchange and Finablr in relation to matters arising out of of the linked difficulties of the three companies, including NMC Health’s entry in to administration.
  • Representing Meydan in DIFC Court proceedings against the Dubai International Arbitration Centre for breach of contract in failing to administer an arbitration case in accordance with its rules, including by failing to appoint the tribunal in accordance with the terms of the arbitration agreement, and its rules.
  • Advised a creditor of Phoenix Commodities Pvt Limited, on the possibility of obtaining and/or enforcing a judgment.

Afridi & Angell

In addition to handling DIFC courts and international arbitration cases Afridi & Angell, which is registered as a local consultant, also regularly works in co-counsel roles regarding UAE onshore court litigation. Practice head Haider Afridi handles highly sensitive arbitrations, and Chatura Randeniya is a notable name in the DIFC courts, including handling first-in-jurisdiction cases. Stuart Walker, who has financial services expertise, is also involved in key mandates; the team handles disputes for independent banks but is also comfortable litigating against financial services institutions. The firm is well-connected in South Asia; senior associate Mevan Bandara and associate Sulakshana Senanayake, like Randeniya, are key names here.

Practice head(s):

Haider Afridi

Other key lawyers:

Chatura Randeniya; Stuart Walker; Mevan Bandara; Sulakshana Senanayake


‘For me personally there are two specific people at Afridi and Angell who stand out in the firm with their dedication, knowledge, professionalism and have 100 percent my trust in any legal cases or questions I have. These two people are Bashir Ahmed and Sulakshana Senanayake. Having these two people on my side made an incredible team. They worked very hard and diligently on my cases and I cannot express from the bottom of my heart what all of their hard work has meant to me. ’

‘Chatura Randeniya has been very diligent in the advice given and provides timely support. He is very knowledgeable and effective and with him handling a matter I have every assurance that the job will get done and typically he exceeds expectations.’

‘I have had the pleasure of getting to know and working with Chatura Randeniya for the past 3-4 years. He is one of the brightest and most innovative lawyers I have met in the UAE. His ability to manage complex disputes across several jurisdictions and to navigate the local courts and dispute resolution mechanisms of the local jurisdiction are rare. ’

‘Tremendous local knowledge, combined with the sophistication to interact with legal counterparts and other stakeholders in mature markets and jurisdictions.’

‘Afridi & Angell is by far the best lawyers I have worked with in Dubai.’

Key clients

ED&F Man Capital Markets

Work highlights

  • Representing both the London and Swiss branch of the equities brokerage giant, ED&F Man in proceedings to recover over $2.7m and $2.5m respectively against Phoenix Commodities (Pvt) Limited (BVI) and Phoenix Global DMCC (UAE).

Baker McKenzie Habib Al Mulla

Andrew Mackenzie, head of international arbitration and offshore litigation at Baker McKenzie Habib Al Mulla, leads on international arbitrations concerning a range of matters such as joint ventures, distributions agreements,  intellectual property, as well as free zone litigation. UAE-qualified Habib Al Mulla is a notable name for international arbitration, and is on the ICSID panel. Egyptian-qualified senior counsel Sally Kotb, who also sits as an arbitrator, and senior associate Andrew Massey are other names to note.

Practice head(s):

Andrew Mackenzie

Other key lawyers:

Habib Al Mulla; Sally Kotb; Andrew Massey

Key clients

Samsung Gulf Electronics

Julias Baer






Al Ali Group Holdings

Standard Chartered Bank

Bankmed (SAL)

Work highlights

  • Acting for Samsung Gulf Electronics in an ICC arbitration seated in Dubai under UAE law in relation to a $24m claim against Midcom and Onesto Trading.
  • Representing Julius Baer (Middle East) Limited in DIFC Court proceedings to contest a pre-action disclosure application regarding a $140m claim

Clifford Chance

At Clifford Chance, James Abbott's work includes representation of both claimants and defendants in the professional negligence space, including ground-breaking issues of law in the free zone, as part of a broader practice in the DIFC courts also covering financial services litigation, among other work. Paul Coates heads the international arbitration side of the team, combining instructions in a range of disputes with advice on the enforcement of awards, and Arun Visweswaran is a key senior associate.

Practice head(s):

James Abbott; Paul Coates

Other key lawyers:

Arun Visweswaran; Paul Coates; Victoria St-Amour


‘Great strength and depth across all levels. You know you will get a quality product every time. Great team ethic and great to work with. Super knowledgeable about the region.’

‘James Abbott has an unrivalled knowledge of the DIFC procedure and case law.’

‘Very user-friendly and highly competent.’

‘The stand-out individuals I worked with were Paul Coates, Victoria St-Amour and Arun Visweswaran. They were all highly competent, focused, exceptionally hard-working and very easy to get on with.’


Andrew Cheung, who returns to client-facing work after a stint as the firm's general counsel, is the key contact for commercial dispute resolution at Dentons in the UAE. Instructions of late have concerned legally novel DIFC Court cases through to arbitrations crossing a range of industries. Richard Clarke is a key senior associate and associate Zahra Rose Khawaja is also well regarded.

Practice head(s):

Alastair Young; Andrew Cheung

Other key lawyers:

Richard Clarke; Zahra Rose Khawaja


‘The Dentons dispute resolution team in Dubai is first class and has been involved in some of the most significant cases in recent years.’

‘Andrew Cheung is a heavyweight litigator and fantastic with clients. Richard Clarke is a star in the making and has made a major impact in the region.’

Key clients

State Bank of Mauritius


Haulotte Group

Ultra Electronics, 3eTI


Indus International FZC

Work highlights

  • Representing The State Bank of Mauritius in proceedings before the DIFC Courts (and Joint Judicial Committee) valued at over $30 million, arising out of a trade finance fraud.
  • Representing Indus International FZC in a long running and complex cross-border dispute in DIFC courts, US and India.

Hadef & Partners

Hadef & Partners' dispute resolution practice covers a broad range of work, in addition to strong UAE courts and construction practices. Adrian Chadwick is highly active in the DIFC courts, banking and debt recovery. Walid Azzam handles a range of matters including asset tracing, and Australian-qualified Pashto speaker Zarghona Fazal is a 2020 partner promotion with a diverse practice including banking and M&A disputes; Fazal regularly works with firm executive partner Richard Briggs. Basil Siddiqi is a key arbitration contact in Abu Dhabi.

Practice head(s):

Abdulrahman Juma; Salih Ahnaish; Adrian Chadwick

Other key lawyers:

Walid Azzam; Zarghona Fazal; Richard Briggs; Basil Siddiqi

Key clients

Caterpillar Financial Services (Dubai) Limited

IDBI Bank Limited (DIFC branch)

Work highlights

  • Representing Caterpillar Finance in litigation concerning its supply of equipment to the construction business in the UAE.
  • Representing IDBI Bank in a $37m dispute with Horizon Energy LLC concerning a Liberian law ship mortgage on the vessel City Elite, and related security checks.


Sam Wakerley is a key name in a HFW practice which focuses primarily on insurance-related disputes. Richard Gimblett and Charles Cockrell have a notable, niche, practice in the area of aviation-related litigation. The firm also has an Arabic-language litigation capability, with Yaman Al Hawamdeh a notable name for working with local advocates in a range of matters, including more mainstream shareholder litigation and joint venture disputes. Nick Braganza was a new arrival in January 2021.

Practice head(s):

Sam Wakerley

Other key lawyers:

Richard Gimblett; Charles Cockrell; Yamal Al Hawamdeh; Nick Braganza

Key clients

Cisco Systems International

Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank PJSC

Joseph Ghossoub

Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank PJSC


Alstom Transport SA

Denholm Yam

Work highlights

  • Acting on behalf of flydubai and its insurers in response to the loss of a Boeing 737-800 aircraft that crashed on approach to Rostov-on-Don Airport on 19 March 2016, killing 62.

Norton Rose Fulbright

At Norton Rose Fulbright's international arbitration-led disputes practice, Deirdre Walker handles a range of arbitrations, as well as related DIFC Court litigation, covering sectors as diverse as hotel management agreements and M&A disputes. Paul Stothard handles a range of other matters alongside his construction arbitration practice (some concerning metals), and insurance disputes specialist counsel Shabnam Karim joined from Clyde & Co LLP in January 2020.

Practice head(s):

Deirdre Walker

Key clients

Harlan Group for Civil Rights

Pinsent Masons LLP

Damian Crosse heads the disputes practice at Pinsent Masons LLP, which has particularly demonstrated its ability in document-heavy cases, including the use of artificial intelligence tools. The firm is deploying these technologies in high-profile cases such as the Danish tax authority's dispute concerning Solo Capital Partners' cum-ex trading. Crosse's practice also includes a range of global, cross-border disputes both in the DIFC courts and arbitration. Seema Bono is a particularly well-regarded senior associate, and associate Sammy Nanneh, who speaks Arabic, is qualified as a barrister and is also an associate member of Hardwicke Chambers Limited.

Practice head(s):

Damian Crosse

Other key lawyers:

Seema Bono; Sammy Nanneh


‘Great team, very commercial and pragmatic. ’

‘Damian Crosse is great to deal with and very user friendly. He is not afraid to get stuck in but is always able to see the wood for the trees. ’

‘A modern and forward thinking firm that is always first to act on topical issues. I have attended some very interesting and thought provoking networking events run by Pinsents. ’

‘In my experience, Pinsent Masons have unrivalled experience in international arbitration/litigation in the Middle East across all major sectors. They are involved in many of the largest and highest profile cases in the region.’

‘Not only are their lawyers experts in construction/commercial law and international arbitration, but, in addition, they have a wealth of knowledge and experience of the local laws of all the states in the region, and are very experienced at working with co-counsel in cases which require input from local or foreign lawyers. Moreover, they are always acutely aware of the commercial objectives of the client, and go out of their way to develop the best strategies in order to achieve them. Those lawyers are, in my experience, invariably extremely bright and very hard-working, and always willing to do everything which is required in order to achieve the very best possible results for their clients.’

‘There are numerous examples of cases where, in my experience, they have worked through the night in order to meet deadlines imposed by the client or by a tribunal. In addition to that, they are superb at developing and maintaining client relationships, and managing very large teams of witnesses and experts in the context of what are invariably hugely complex arbitrations; and, on top of all that, they are great fun, and, in my experience, an absolute pleasure to work with.’

‘Overall, I regard Pinsent Masons as being absolutely outstanding across the full range of construction and arbitration work through the Middle East and beyond, and cannot recommend them too highly.

‘Seema Bono is an excellent litigator. She is extremely careful to carry out a thorough review of any case before giving her clients both the legal and strategic advice they need. Always calm and good-humoured under pressure.’

‘A top class team – pragmatic, commercial and strategic in their outlook and advice.’

‘Damian Crosse – go-to adviser for seasoned, strategic advice. Calm, measured and sensible in a crisis. Seema Bono – responsive, reliable and a bright leader of the future.’

‘Damian Crosse is skilled at spinning many plates. He’s very good at giving realistic initial advice to clients and managing expectations. He has a natural commercial litigator’s instinct. He’s also a pleasure to work with. Even at very stressful points in some cases we have worked on he exudes a relaxed confidence (more so than some silks!).’

‘Pinsents have emerged as a serious participant in the commercial disputes field. They have been involved in important, high value cases, including SKAT v Elysium, a US$2bn fraud claim in the DIFC Court, in which they obtained one of the widest ranging search orders in any jurisdiction, seizing approximately 12 million documents. Other cases include a series of hotel disputes, where they have built a formidable reputation.’

‘Damian Crosse has built out the firm’s commercial practice substantially in recent years. He is sensible, measured and empathetic. He is never rattled and always on top of the situation. Seema Bono is emerging as a senior associate to watch. She is first rate and is beginning to take a more central role in some of the firm’s more substantial disputes. ’

Key clients

SKAT (The Danish Customs and Tax Administration)

Doosan Babcock



McConnell Dowell South East Asia Pte Limited

Tabarak Investment LLC

GEMS Education

Al Fahim Group


Al Zarooni Emirates Investments LLC

Harlow International


Green Coast Enterprises

Amanat PJSC

FTI Consulting

Delta Capital Partners

Bareeq Capital

China Petroleum Engineering Corporation




Al Bahar Group

Dubai Aviation Corporation (Fly Dubai)


Work highlights

  • Advising SKAT, the Danish Tax Authority, on claims valued at $2bn arising out of alleged tax fraud involving defendants across several jurisdictions.
  • Representing Tabarak Investment LLC, a private equity firm, in commercial litigation in the DIFC Courts arising from Tabarak’s investment of AED500m in Drake & Scull, including an application to the DIFC Court of Appeal.
  • Advising the founder of the HealthBay healthcare business  on DIFC Court proceedings with Anglo Arabian, which is owned by a major private equity player in the UAE market.

Addleshaw Goddard

Paul Hughes heads the commercial disputes team at Addleshaw Goddard, which handles heavyweight DIFC courts litigation, often in parallel with arbitrations, covering a spectrum of work from civil fraud claims through to banking disputes. Some areas of work in international arbitration include investor-state disputes, a key area for international arbitration specialist Stephen Burke, who joined from Baker Botts L.L.P.. Legal director Khurram Khan, who is New York-qualified and handles advocacy in a number of the firm's cases, and managing associate Antonia Grieve are key names at a more junior level.

Practice head(s):

Paul Hughes

Other key lawyers:

Stephen Burke; Khurram Khan; Antonia Grieve


‘An exceptional litigation team working on some of the largest disputes in the region. AG are aggressive and proactive, but reasonable and level-headed. A rare combination.’

‘Paul Hughes is an exceptional litigator. He is incredibly hard-working, knows how to lead and delegate where necessary and is measured, but aggressive where appropriate.’

Key clients

Ebrahim Al-Jassim

Khaldoun Tabari & Zeina Tabari

Hazel Middle East FZE

Work highlights

  • Instructed to act for a syndicate of lenders to obtain a worldwide freezing order in the DIFC Courts.
  • Representing Ebrahim Al-Jassim in satellite DIFC Courts litigation arising out of a high value shareholders dispute.
  • Instructed to act for Khaldoun Tabari & Zeina Tabari in its claim against Tabarak Investment LLC in the DIFC Courts.

Baker Botts L.L.P.

Philip Punwar heads the Baker Botts L.L.P. disputes team in the UAE. He covers a range of disputes, some of which concern engineering and infrastructure, as well as shareholder disputes and a broader range of commercial matters. He also has a particular specialism in the DIFC's law of legal professional privilege and has been appointed as a supervising lawyer. Senior associate Dustin Appel has returned to Texas and the firm's Houston office.

Practice head(s):

Philip Punwar

Other key lawyers:

Dustin Appel


‘The arbitration practice at Baker Botts is extremely strong and focused on excellence. BB is adaptable to whatever dispute or issues you may have. I have also found working with BB to be collaborative and enjoyable.’

‘Philip Punwar leads the arbitration practice in the region and is a consummate arbitration practitioner. He is extremely thorough in his work and is always well prepared. Philip is always willing to engage and debate on any related issues and share his knowledge and experience to the benefit of everyone in the team. He is also a formidable advocate.’

Key clients

Samsung Engineering Co., Ltd.

Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP

Raza Mithani is the key contact for commercial litigation at Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP. His work includes both DIFC Court litigation as well as arbitration and the project management of matters outside the free zone. In line with the wider firm's reputation in this space, property litigation is an area of expertise; other matters include insurance and software disputes. David Parker is a key associate.

Practice head(s):

Raza Mithani

Other key lawyers:

David Parker

Key clients

Damac Group

Artistic Legend Real Estate Development

Specon Group

Kellogg Brown & Root Limited (KBR)

31 Velocity General Trading LLC

Alistair James Company Limited

Work highlights

  • Representing Artistic Legend Real Estate Development in a dispute in the DIFC courts with the discharge of freezing orders at issue.

DWF Middle East LLP

At DWF Middle East LLP, James Fox heads a team handling a range of litigation in the DIFC courts and other fora, including asset recovery cases and blockbuster professional negligence matters. Solicitor-advocate Slava Kiryushin is a key contact for energy disputes with a focus on oil and gas, but also handles some other matters, including hotel management agreement disputes.

Practice head(s):

James Fox

Other key lawyers:

Slava Kiryushin

Key clients


Eversheds Sutherland LLP

At Eversheds Sutherland LLP, Shalagh Massingham is active in international arbitration and DIFC Court litigation, both concerning all manner of matters ranging from alleged fraud through to supply of commodities. Rebecca Copley, alongside her investigations expertise, is active in litigation involving banking disputes and the finance industry more broadly. The firm also handles work co-operating with UAE advocates, and in addition Nasser Ali Khasawneh is particularly active in IP and TMT-related disputes.

Practice head(s):

Shalagh Massingham; Rebecca Copley; Nasser Ali Khasawneh; Paul Taylor

Key clients

Philip Morris International Management S.A. (PMI)

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer

Gibson Dunn

Gibson Dunn, which covers both international arbitration and DIFC court litigation, is headed by the well-regarded Graham Lovett. The firm handles a range of corporate and commercial matters, with joint venture disputes one area of strength. Both Lovett and, unusually for an associate, Shane Jury, are admitted as Part II lawyers (advocates) in the DIFC. Nooree Moola is another key associate.

Practice head(s):

Graham Lovett

Other key lawyers:

Shane Jury; Nooree Moola

Key clients

Iraq Telecom

Dubai International Financial Centre Authority and Dubai International Financial Centre Investments

Crescent Petroleum

Dana Gas

Work highlights

  • Representing Iraq Telecom in DIFC Courts litigation in parallel to an investment treaty claim concerning its shareholding in Korek Telecom.
  • Representing the DIFC Authority in a DIFC Courts dispute concerning the termination of a joint venture to develop real estate in the free zone.
  • Representing Crescent Petroleum and Dana Gas

Herbert Smith Freehills LLP

Stuart Paterson heads the commercial dispute resolution side of the practice at Herbert Smith Freehills LLP, handling heavy disputes with civil fraud and regulatory aspects, as well as as complex DIFC courts litigation and commercial arbitrations. He frequently works with senior associate Joseph Bentley. Primarily a construction practitioner, Nick Oury's workload also includes other international arbitrations in related fields and advice on litigation in other GCC jurisdictions, often in the engineering space.

Practice head(s):

Stuart Paterson

Other key lawyers:

Nick Oury; Joseph Bentley


‘Nick Oury has great commercial nous and is an excellent lawyer – he will go far.’

‘Stuart Paterson is an incredibly assured and measured advocate before any court or tribunal. He exudes quiet authority and a mastery of all of the relevant facts and legal principles. Never taken off his stride in submissions. He has a reputation for both rigorous analysis of any legal problem and determined advocacy of his client’s position.

‘Joseph Bentley works well with Stuart Paterson in bringing any matter on to a hearing or trial. Ever cheerful, he is first rate in matters of case management and preparation. His conclusions are always measured and well-reasoned.’

Key clients

BR Shetty and BRS Capital



Amana Middle East Holdings Limited, Buharia International Holdings Limited and SMS Holdings Limited (“ETA”)

Leighton Offshore Pte Ltd

BP Plc


Sumitomo Corporation

BAE Systems

Tihama Power Generation Company Ltd (Part of the ENGIE Group)

Work highlights

  • Representing Amana Middle East Holdings in relation to a joint venture dispute with a prominent Emirati family, including two DIAC arbitrations as well as litigation in Dubai and Mauritius.
  • Conducting a review of assets for Dr BR Shetty and his group companies and leading on an internal investigation.

KBH Kaanuun

KBH Kaanuun 'successfully combines the advantages of being a local firm with the capabilities of an international team', with a particular focus on advocacy in the DIFC courts. Notably the key lawyers in the team have experience honed at the independent Bar in England and India. In a number of cases, the firm has been particularly adept at working with litigation funders. DK Singh, the firm's managing partner, is active alongside fellow partner Bushra Ahmed in a full spectrum of commercial disputes, in many of which the firm acts as co-counsel with US firms not present in the UAE. The pair are supported by senior associate Tina Asgarian, who brings offshore experience.

Practice head(s):

DK Singh; Bushra Ahmed

Other key lawyers:

Tina Asgarian


‘Creative in finding solutions ’

‘They stand out for looking deeper than just the matter at hand.’

‘All the people are simply nice to deal with.’

‘DK Singh and Bushra Ahmad are excellent partners who go the extra mile. Tina Asgarian an associate is also outstanding.’

‘Bushra Ahmed and Tina Asgarian are a good team for DIFC Court litigation.’

‘KBH successfully combines the advantages of being a local firm with the capabilities of an international team. They understand the dynamics of the DIFC courts, and the many nuances which set the DIFC apart from other common law systems, and at the same time offer a sophisticated international perspective. We have been particularly impressed with their readiness to tackle difficult or novel problems with a creative and positive mindset.’

‘DK Singh, Bushra Amhed and Tina Asagarian have all been impressive, and have a team-orientated approach. This means that we haven’t simply instructed local counsel; we have been able to collaborate with them, as a single team of lawyers.’

‘Knowing that they have won some serious legal battles gives one a lot of confidence in their abilities.’

‘It is very hard to come across a legal mind like DK Singh. He is very thoughtful in whatever is presented to ensure that he sees all possibilities before suggesting a way forward. He is also very respectful of his colleagues’ opinions before setting out the strategy for his clients.’

Key clients

Al Masah Capital Management Ltd

BECO Capital

IGCF General Partner Limited

Envie Events LLC – Free Zone

RAG Foodstuff Trading LCC and its shareholders

Work highlights

  • Representing Al Masah Capital Management Limited and three of its employees in respect of enforcement proceedings that have been commenced by the Dubai Financial Service Authority.
  • Representing IGCF General Partner limited, in a claim in excess of $100m, against KPMG who were auditors of the company and its funds.
  • Representing RAG Foodstuff Trading and its shareholders in a claim commenced in the DIFC Courts by a rival onshore company following its failed attempt to acquire and take over RAG’s business and customer base.

King & Spalding LLP

At King & Spalding LLPBen Williams - an English solicitor also admitted in New York - has recently relocated from London to Dubai. His work includes finance and joint venture disputes in arbitration.

Practice head(s):

Ben Williams

Key clients

Riyad Bank

Saudi Aramco

Riyad Capital

Hexagon Holdings

Work highlights

  • Representing Hexagon Holdings in a n dispute with the DIFC Authority concerning a joint venture agreement to develop property within the free zone.
  • Representing Passport Special Opportunities Master Fund in a dispute with Ary Communications over a proposed new television channel.
  • Representing Sadara Chemical Company in a dispute over whether an expert in the London office of a consultancy firm can be instructed after an expert from the firm’s Singapore office was instructed by the other side.

Simmons & Simmons Middle East

Simmons & Simmons Middle East is 'particularly strong on DIFC and cross-border disputes'. In addition to his regulatory practice, Payam Beheshti handles a range of financial services-linked litigation, including matters involving blue-chip institutions and allegations of fraud. David Risbridger - the firm's regional managing partner - has a broader arbitration practice covering issues involving engineering and insurance alongside his construction expertise.

Practice head(s):

David Risbridger

Other key lawyers:

Payam Beheshti; David McDonald; Harriet Jenkins


‘Practical and commercial insights. Not just black letter law approach and tactically astute.’

‘Payam Beheshti contributes tactical intelligence and commercial nous.’

‘The team is particularly strong on DIFC and cross-border disputes. They are particularly strong representing financial institutions where they have a very good understanding of what issues are important to their client and how they should be managed.’

‘Payam Beheshti is our go-to partner at Simmons and is a pleasure to work with – he’s calm and analytical and takes a strategic approach to matters.

David McDonald is a very capable senior associate who gets very good work done with the minimum of fuss.

‘Simmons have an excellent team in the UAE. Very pragmatic and happy to get involved at early stages with a variety of clients with sensible advice.’

‘Harriet Jenkins is an excellent young lawyer, very competent, very good technical construction knowledge and an excellent communicator. ’

‘Very strong capabilities across jurisdictions, and they work pretty seamlessly between them. Strong technical skills at all levels, and good for bouncing ideas off. Good management and commercial skills, essential for high value commercial litigation cases.’

Stephenson Harwood

Stephenson Harwood continues to be instructed in a broad range of disputes, with international arbitration in both the firm's core marine and insurance related areas of expertise notable. The firm is also active in insurance and asset tracing, where it has a track record of activity across the region. James Willn leads many of the firm's key mandates, with Nick Sharratt's expertise also crossing over with investigations. Rovine Chandrasekera, previously the firm's Dubai managing partner, has returned to London but continues his involvement in UAE-related work,

Practice head(s):

James Willn

Other key lawyers:

Nick Sharratt; Michael Hartley


‘Highly experienced with different international arbitration rules and systems. Very strategic: every play is carefully thought through and is aimed at achieving the end goal.’

‘James Willn is bright and excellent at devising the overall strategy. Michael Hartley is very hard-working and on top of the detail in the way that is necessary for the larger high value arbitrations.’

‘The disputes team are a very friendly yet dynamic and diverse bunch. I always look forward to work with them whenever the chance arises.’

‘Michael Hartley has a keen eye for detail and is a hard working and committed individual. As an expert it is always good to work with a professional lawyer such as Michael as you know you’re in good hands.

‘James Willn heads up an excellent team and instils his own high standards into them. James cuts through the background noise and gets straight to the main issues at hand. ’

‘The practice displays a unique combination of technical legal excellence with genuine commercial understanding of our business (including a deep appreciation of our own internal complexities), and which really makes them a valued adviser. I also have the confidence that I can engage with them on any legal topic and they will find an appropriate home for that enquiry within their organization with great speed. ’

‘Nick Sharratt is exceptional and a pleasure to work with – he is readily available, incredibly committed, and navigates complex legal/commercial issues with ease. We greatly value his support, not just in his own field, but as a trusted advisor across our business.’

‘We principally work with James Willn, who is an excellent litigator. Sharp, responsive, commercial – always available.’

‘Very strong leadership skills, with a commercial and client focus.’

‘Nicholas Sharratt is particularly excellent. He is dynamic, a great leader and a real hit with clients.’

Trowers & Hamlins LLP

Matthew Showler joined Trowers & Hamlins LLP from Dentons  in April 2020, bringing with him expertise in DIFC Court litigation as well as the management of global disputes, often with offshore elements. Lucy Walton is a key senior associate - a barrister, she carries out her own advocacy both in commercial matters and as part of the construction practice.

Practice head(s):

Matthew Showler

Other key lawyers:

Lucy Walton


‘Trowers have taken a huge step forward in recruiting Matt Showler. Matt brings genuine heavyweight commercial disputes experience in Dubai’s marquee forums – the DIFC Court and the DIFC-LCIA. Matt has worked on a number of ground-breaking cases, including obtaining the first ever anti-suit injunction in the DIFC Court (reported as Hayri v Hazim).’

‘The Trowers & Hamlins team is client committed.  They will move into their client’s organisation when needed, get to know the projects, and apply their experience to assist clients navigating contentious projects.’

‘Matt Showler continues to impress – he is accessible, proactive, client-driven and incredibly reliable.’

‘Matt Showler is a great hire for his Dubai and DIFC experience. He is incisive and hugely effective, but maintains excellent relationships throughout the market. He is a genuine pleasure to work with.’

Key clients

Indus International FZC

Tushar Ruia

First Energy Bank BSC (c)

The Administrators of The International Banking Corporation

NEBA Financial Solutions

Dubai Islamic Insurance and Reinsurance AMAN (PSC)

Kunal Savjani

Bahrain Development Bank and Al Waha Venture Capital Fund

Syndigate Media Inc

Ferrovial Agroman Limited

C.E. Einkaufsagentur Consulting UG

Work highlights

  • Advising the administrator of The International Banking Corporation in its claims against Ahmed Hamad Algosaibi Brothers Company worth $2.5bn, also known as AHAB v SAAD.
  • Representing Tushar Ruia and his company Indus International FZC against Indus Thermal LLC, Nihar Ruia and Danvita India (PVT) Ltd in complex cross-border proceedings involving DIFC, Dubai, Texas and Mumbai and involving claims now totalling $100m.
  • Representing First Energy Bank in DIFC proceedings against UAE-based defendants for the recovery of $53m.


At AMERELLER, Austrian and English-qualified senior counsel Alexander Lütgendorf heads a practice that advises a varied client base including, but not limited to, a large number of respected businesses, often industrial, from German-speaking Europe, covering a range of commercial disputes in arbitration and the DIFC courts. Syrian-qualified Amer Jamoukha is a key senior counsel, who assists in working with UAE advocates.

Practice head(s):

Alexander Lütgendorf

Other key lawyers:

Amer Jamoukha


‘Overall, a reliable and experienced team. We found them to be organized, well versed with the legal environment and good at providing comprehensive advice.’

‘The Amereller team has a profound knowledge and experience in all MENA legislations. One of the most remarkable points is that they act – with zero arrogance towards non-experts in the region – proactively and are always able to guide both lawyers and non-lawyers in a comprehensive way through a dispute. All decision alternatives and their consequences are clearly analysed, and this firm is able to clearly recommend the best way instead of shifting a decision to the business people.’

‘Alexander Lütgendorf is very knowledgeable, well experienced in multiple legal matters and brings in a commercial perspective as well, not just legal.’

‘Alexander Lütgendorf is a great litigator and has excellent knowledge of arbitration proceedings.’

Key clients


thyssenkrupp Materials Trading


Charles Russell Speechlys LLP

Ghassan El Daye is the key name in Charles Russell Speechlys LLP's disputes team in the UAE, which in addition to work for airlines is active working with local advocates on disputes across the region, often concerning property issues, arbitral award enforcement and civil fraud. The team also calls upon the expertise of Patrick Gearon, who handles work across the region from Manama. Senior associate Peter Smith was a new arrival in 2021.

Practice head(s):

Patrick Gearon

Other key lawyers:

Ghassan El Daye; Peter Smith

Key clients


Etihad Airways


WS Atkins & Partners Overseas and WS Atkins International Limited

Kleindeinst Group / Heart of Europe

First Qatar Real Estate Development

DEAL Distribution International FZE

Hi Aloha FZE


Ince 'provides an experienced and skilled service for dealing with disputes in the UAE'. The team includes Rania Tadros and Egyptian-qualified civil law litigator Mohamed El Hawawy; the group has a primary focus on matters surrounding the firm's marine and insurance strengths but also broader commercial litigation.

Other key lawyers:

Rania Tadros; Mohamed El Hawawy; Natalie Jensen


‘Ince provides an experienced and skilled service for dealing with disputes in the UAE as their knowledge of local issues and processes is excellent. They appreciate the commercial realities of a client’s drivers and their rates are very competitive.’

‘Rania Tadros is a skilled lawyer who appreciates what I need as a client, using her deep experience of our industry and her know-how of the dispute options to work to achieve my goals. I particularly like her experience in a blend of maritime and construction law/disputes which is unusual and directly relevant to our business.’

‘Natalie Jensen deserves particular praise for her commitment for turning a matter from a disaster to an acceptable settlement.’

Key clients

Pacific Ocean Marine Industries Co Ltd

Lamprell Energy Ltd

The New India Assurance Co Limited

D1 Milano, Dario Constantino Spallone, and Mattia Bodini


Work highlights

  • Representing Pacific Ocean Marine Industries Co Ltd, a company with Korean shareholders, in a shareholder dispute over a UAE entity.
  • Representing Lamprell Energy in a dispute with a third-party labour supplier concerning the quality of welding services provided in the construction of offshore oil and gas infrastructure.
  • Representing The New India Assurance Company Ltd in a policy coverage dispute arising under a marine hull break-up voyage policy after a tow line pulling the vessel broke.

Jones Day

At Jones Day, Pierre Heitzmann - of counsel at the firm - is praised for his work both as an arbitrator and counsel, and Sean Boyce is also recommended.


‘Pierre Heitzmann is a  conscientious and a very good arbitrator to discuss and agree matters with. Clearly very familiar with the DIFC-LCIA rules and experienced in arbitration both as counsel and arbitrator.

‘Teams from multiple offices work well together with very good coordination. Broad range of language competence.’

‘Pierre Heitzmann is very competent, complete English/French fluency and very responsive on a timely basis as issues arise – top flight.

Sean Boyce has huge future potential.

K&L Gates

K&L Gates' Jonathan Sutcliffe handles a range of disputes, including arbitration proceedings ranging from construction to technology and commodities, as either arbitrator or counsel. Canadian-qualified Nazanin Aleyaseen handles a range of work, with some matters involving a crossover with internal investigations.

Practice head(s):

Jonathan Sutcliffe; Nazanin Aleyaseen


‘Jonathan Sutcliffe is excellent. Having acted as an arbitrator himself, he is able to predict how a tribunal may act, which allows him to stay ahead of the game in a tactical sense.’

Key clients

Tobacco Products International FZ-LLC (Ras Al Khaimah)



Peter Ellingham continues to head a Kennedys dispute resolution practice focusing on insurance disputes and the construction industry, which also includes Nick Humphrey and Mark Wilson. In addition, Celine Abi Habib Kanakri also handles a broader range of arbitration work, including DIAC matters.

Practice head(s):

Peter Ellingham

Other key lawyers:

Nick Hymphrey; Mark Wilson; Celine Abi Habib Kanakri


‘Peter Ellingham of Kennedys in Dubai is an English native lawyer who has practised in the UAE for several years. He is still very European minded and this is of great value and help for European companies who need local legal advise. He also has great local skills, enabling him to guide his clients through the jurisdiction and its usages.’

‘Mark Wilson requires special mention. Mark’s fortitude in seeing  complex cases through to the end is the epitome of those qualities in the legal profession that every young lawyer should aspire to.’

Key clients

Tri-Star Resources plc

Lamcy Plaza LLC

ExecuJet Middle East MRO Services FZCO

Oil & Gas International FZE

Munich Airport International GmbH

Work highlights

  • Representing UK listed, Tri-Star Resources plc in its shareholder dispute with Oman Investment Agency before the LCIA-DIFC arbitration centre, worth approximately $60m.
  • Acting for Lamcy Plaza in interrelated claims involving various forums from arbitration to court litigation, concerning total claims of over AED1bn.
  • Representing AIG UK limited in relation to a claim for recovery under a policy wording for damages arising as a result of a defect in the installation and erection works of steam turbines, worth more than $40m.

Mayer Brown

Alain Farhad at Mayer Brown  is best known for his international arbitration expertise, sitting as an arbitrator as well as appearing as counsel in a range of commercial disputes. He also is active in the DIFC courts.

Practice head(s):

Alain Farhad

Other key lawyers:

Gerard Moore


‘Alain Farhad is exceptionally competent and knowledgeable on disputes concerning construction and wider commercial issues.

‘In Gerard Moore, the Mayer Brown team has recruited an excellent litigator who brings from his previous firm a wealth of experience in the region and detailed knowledge of arbitration practice.’

‘Alain Farhad is a standout individual who is a true expert in international arbitration. As a French qualified lawyer he has a different and more international perspective than many English qualified partners in other firms.’

Key clients

Fouad Alghanim & Sons General Trading

Islamic Republic of Pakistan

Work highlights

  • Represented Fouad Alghanim & Sons General Trading, a Kuwaiti company, in an ICSID arbitration against Jordan.
  • Representing Pakistan in resisting the enforcement of the $6bn ICSID award in favour of Tethyan Copper Company in the US federal courts.

Nassif Arbitration

At Nassif Arbitration, which is affiliated with Teynier Pic in Paris, Karim Nassif is active as an arbitrator, counsel and expert in disputes heard in both the French and English languages. Farah El Hajj Purice, an associate in the team, has experience as a tribunal secretary. Both are Lebanese-qualified.

Practice head(s):

Karim Nassif

Other key lawyers:

Farah El Hajj Purice


‘Karim Nassif is the consummate ADR professional. If you need a party-appointed arbitrator for a GCC dispute  grab him before the other side do. If you are a wing arbitrator and need to choose a chairman it will be a smoother road ahead of you if you agree with your fellow wing on using Mr. Nassif.’

‘Karim Nassif has an excellent knowledge of the laws of the UAE and more generally the civil law system in the Arab world. He can work in three languages and is a very experienced lawyer who also has great technical skills. His profile is relatively unique in the UAE market, which makes all the difference.’

Key clients

Mabani Steel LLC Abu Dhabi Branch

SHP Design (France)

Unipods LLC

Tav & Tepe Akfen Investment Construction & Operations

Gulf Fluor LLC


Shearman & Sterling LLP

In Abu Dhabi, as part of Shearman & Sterling LLP's global arbitration practice Alex Bevan handles a range of cross-border disputes covering insurance, commercial matters, aviation and energy, among other matters. He is supported by David Hume and Alexander Nordang.

Practice head(s):

Alex Bevan

Other key lawyers:

David Hume; Alexander Nordang

Key clients

OHL Internacional

Contrack (Cyprus) Ltd

Samsung C&T Corporation

Qatar Building Company

ENKA Insaat ve Sanayi AS.

Oracsom Construction

Work highlights

  • Representing ENKA Insaat ve Sanayi AS in the arbitration underlying the UK Supreme Court case Enka v Chubb.
  • Representing International Petroleum Investment Company as respondent in an ICC Paris arbitration arising from a sponsorship agreement with a European football club.

Watson Farley & Williams

Charlotte Bijlani at Watson Farley & Williams handles a range of arbitration covering shipping, trade finance, commodities and finance, with a number of instructions coming from Russian parties.

Practice head(s):

Charlotte Bijlani

Other key lawyers:

Thomas Whitfield


‘A very friendly team – very hard working and dedicated beyond imagination.’

‘Professional and dedicated.’

‘Charlotte Bijlani leads a team which is extremely robust. Good practical and realistic advice is given. Included within the team are Russian speakers which enables them to deal with cases for clients from the CIS with they are ideally placed to do out of Dubai. This is the best firm in Dubai that I have worked with.’

‘Charlotte Bijlani is very forthright in her opinions, giving the client very realistic advice. Adds real value and does not simply delegate everything to counsel. She gets things done. Thomas Whitfield is super efficient, appears at times not to sleep. Completely unfazed by time differences. Ideal support for counsel in a hearing.’

‘Charlotte Bijlani combines a fierce intellect with an excellent understanding of the legal politics of the Gulf region and a strategic wisdom that maintains her focus on the client’s objectives.’

Key clients

Sahara International Petrochemical Company

Work highlights

  • Acting for a leading Middle Eastern petrochemical company in a high-value arbitration against a joint venture partner with associated proceedings against one of the big four accountancy firms.
  • Acting for a leading shipping carrier in Saudi Arabia in relation to a complex dispute with a prominent food company in relation to a dispute concerning the costs of compliance with the MARPOL 2020 regulations.