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United Arab Emirates > Dispute resolution: arbitration and international litigation > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings


Index of tables

  1. Dispute resolution: arbitration and international litigation
  2. Leading individuals
  3. Next Generation Partners

Leading individuals

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Next Generation Partners

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At Clyde & Co LLP, 'clients know they will get an accurate answer about where their cases are going'. Mark Beswetherick defends professional services companies in negligence cases before the DIFC courts, with insurer clients in this space including Zurich. Also in the DIFC, Keith Hutchison represented Sunteck Lifestyles in securing an ex-parte injunction in two days to prevent the release of a number of documents held in escrow by a law firm. Nassif BouMalhab, who is qualified in Quebec, also handles DIFC cases as well as international arbitration. Hutchison also handles international arbitration, as do Alfred Thornton and Christopher Jobson in Abu Dhabi. Wayne Jones acts for insurers in challenging cases. Susie Abdel-Nabi ('a ferocious fighter') works with UAE advocates on Arabic-language litigation. Nicholas Braganza and Shabnam Karim were recently promoted to legal director. Alec Emmerson left the firm.

Al Tamimi & Company is 'highly sophisticated in its field of practice - the DIFC and onshore litgiation teams work well together with the focus on the client's ultimate goals at all times'. Rita Jaballah is 'highly responsive, handling client expectations well and with the talent to explain complicated matters in simple terms' - she handles high-profile DIFC cases, including representing Dusty Tourani and Duzty LLC in a case against Tourani's former stepfather concerning an alleged loan to set up the eponymous restaurant in the DIFC, raising questions of the presumption of advancement (a presumption that transfers of money or assets between spouses, and from parents to their children are gifts). Senior associate Peter Smith, who is qualified as an English barrister, is also notable. Khalid Al Hamrani and Ibtissem Lassoued contribute financial crime expertise. Thomas Snider, who heads the firm's arbitration team, handles international arbitrations, including investor-state disputes and matters crossing into Africa. Senior partner Essam Al Tamimi is also involved in international arbitrations, including DIFC-LCIA and ICC arbitrations.

At Allen & Overy LLP, Simon Roderick and new partner promotion Yacine Francis frequently work with the firm's Singapore and Paris offices and have a practice which includes investor-state arbitrations. Francis represents First Abu Dhabi Bank in DIFC litigation concerning a loan connected to the construction of a hotel in the Palm Jumeirah; in this matter Francis appeared as advocate. Kirsten O’Connell is a key senior associate. International commercial arbitrations and regulatory investigations are other areas of expertise. Christopher Mainwaring-Taylor has relocated to the firm's Paris office.

At Baker McKenzie Habib Al Mulla, Andrew Mackenzie, who joined from Hogan Lovells (Middle East) LLP, represents United Arab Bank in DIFC litigation attempting to enforce a personal guarantee against a Kuwaiti businessman, who alleges that the document is forged. Mackenzie and Mazen Boustany represent BankMed in a claim concerning a loan. McKenzie also handles arbitrations, including joint venture disputes. Habib Al Mulla  has been appointed by the UAE government to the ICSID panel of arbitrators, and continues to act as counsel.

DLA Piper Middle East LLP 'brings a unique blend of in-house technical expertise to provide its clients with the best service possible'. Henry Quinlan represents Das Real Estate in DIFC litigation and a separate arbitration concerning the Langham Hotel in the Palm Jumeirah. Wissam Dagher contributes Arabic-language litigation expertise - he is representing Sociedad Química y Minera de Chile in a shareholder dispute concerning a joint venture in the UAE. Fraud investigations are another area of expertise, with Ramsey Jurdi particularly active in this space. Adam Vause heads up the firm's investigations practice. Sharif Hamadeh moved to an in-house position.

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has 'a deep bench of disputes lawyers and is able to work seamlessly across jurisdictions without disruption to quality of service provided'. Sami Tannous, working with the firm's London office, is representing Beijing Urban Construction Group in an ICSID arbitration against Yemen concerning the termination of its contract to construct an airport terminal in Sana'a, including the alleged use of military force to detain the claimant's employees and stop it from accessing the construction site. 'Very good strategist' Erin Miller Rankin has energy and engineering expertise.

Hadef & Partners LLC is 'solution oriented and analyses all facets of the issues'. Adrian Chadwick handles arbitration and DIFC litigation, including real estate cases and shareholder disputes. Mahmoud Awad handles a range of DIFC litigation and international arbitrations, including civil fraud matters. Executive partner Richard Briggs has international arbitration expertise, and John Smy is active in construction disputes. Patrick McPherson is now at CMS, and Claire Raven is now in-house at Samsung Electronics.

At Herbert Smith Freehills LLP, Stuart Paterson handles international arbitrations, including shareholder disputes and construction and engineering matters - also, in the DIFC, he handles litigation including heavyweight landlord and tenant matters. Caroline Kehoe is a key name for energy disputes, and in particular has a following among Russian clients in that industry. Craig Shepherd, the firm's global head of contentious construction, is another key contact. Sports disputes are another area of expertise. Leighton Offshore is another notable client.

King & Wood Mallesons handles a number of arbitration and DIFC commercial disputes. Tim Taylor QC and Joanne Strain represented Mashreqbank in litigation before the Dubai World Tribunal concerning a challenge to its restructuring proposal pertaining to Drydocks World's $2.3bn debt. The two also acted for a high-net-worth individual in a dispute with a food and beverage company over a loan. Daniel Xu, who is qualified in Singapore, is another notable name - his clients include Chinese and Russian businesses.

At Norton Rose Fulbright, Deirdre Walker's practice ranges from DFSA investigatory work through to DIFC-LCIA arbitrated hotel management disputes. Orlando Vidal has compliance expertise, and advises firms on anti-corruption and sanctions matters. Paul Stothard handles a number of construction disputes, including one subject to mediation. Of counsel Peter Wood is another key contact. Patrick Bourke has returned to the firm's London office.

Afridi & Angell fields 'a thoroughly professional and hardworking team that is very accessible and easy to work with'; it handles a diverse range of disputes work, including handling Arabic-language court litigation strategy for a client base that ranges from major industrial businesses to private clients. Haider Afridi handles matters including DIAC arbitrations, and DIFC litigation. Stuart Walker is another key name at partner level. Counsel Chatura Randeniya - who has expertise honed at the Sri Lankan Bar - is another key contact.

Crossing over with its construction practice, Baker Botts L.L.P. handles a range of arbitrations, with much of the work concerning engineering. Lucas Pitts handles cases with fraud elements and joint venture disputes. Stephen Burke represents a Middle Eastern investor in a DIFC-seated arbitration pertaining to a breach of warranty claim concerning the sale of a retail business. Philip Punwar, who heads the practice, is another key contact. Jonathan Sutcliffe is now at K&L Gates.

At Clifford Chance, James Abbott handles DIFC litigation concerning debt recovery and financial services regulatory matters. He also represents government-backed clients in ADCCAC arbitrations. Paul Coates and senior associate Arun Wisweswaran contribute contentious construction expertise. Formerly a senior associate at the firm, Shane Jury is now at Gibson Dunn.

At CMS, Randall Walker handles arbitrations concerning energy matters, such as joint venture and concession disputes. The team also includes legal director Slava Kiryushin, who was formerly MENA general counsel at Lukoil. Clients include a number of independent and government-owned oil and gas companies.

Dentons 'provides first-class service and lives up to clients' high expectations - it has a good mix of management, industry and technical expertise'. Matthew Showler handles international arbitrations, including DIFC-LCIA matters, as well as a range of DIFC courts litigation. He also has expertise in internal investigations, and in this space advises the Emirates Cricket Board following allegations by Al Jazeera of match-fixing on the part of some of its national team. He also handles work concerning English court litigation for clients from the region. The 'methodical and forthright' Alastair Young handles engineering disputes, as does Ian Dalley.

HFW's disputes team is 'personable, clear and responsive, with an understanding of commercial risk and how to manage it'. Sam Wakerley and Sara Sheffield (the latter a new partner promotion) act for the former chairman and CEO of Menacom in an unfair prejudice case in multiple jurisdictions concerning the sale of a majority stake in the company to WPP. Sheffield also has expertise in debt recovery matters and DIFC litigation. The team also handles London and Singapore arbitrations. John Barlow has expertise in financial services and insurance disputes, while James Harbridge is a key contact for insolvency work. Beau McLaren, who also sits as an arbitrator, handles engineering disputes, while Richard Strub handles disputes with maritime elements. Charles Cockrell, who handles aviation disputes among other matters, is a new partner promotion. Other clients include notable insurers from the region and beyond.

At Squire Patton Boggs, Alain Farhad represents Investment Group Private Limited in a dispute before the DIFC courts with Standard Chartered over alleged loan defaults. Farhad is also part of a multi-office team acting for the Croatian government in defence of an Energy Charter Treaty case brought by MOL. Finance disputes are another area of expertise, while Thomas Wilson is active in constructions disputes. Recently promoted partner Rich Gibbon handles US regulatory and sanctions work.

Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP's team is 'easy to work with - queries are promptly responded to and strategy is considered'. Raza Mithani is 'an excellent disputes lawyer with significant experience and commitment to providing clients with clear communications'; he represented Alistair James Company in a DIFC court case concerning a contract under which it transported an oil rig from Tanzania to Egypt, the first case in the jurisdiction considering the doctrine of economic duress. Other work concerns insurance and shareholder disputes, as well as advice on UAE courts litigation strategy.

At Eversheds Sutherland LLP, Rebecca Copley handles financial services matters, including document-heavy cases before the DIFC courts and alleged frauds pertaining to financial services institutions. Nasser Ali Khasawneh is a key contact for technology-related arbitrations, and handles some conducted in Arabic.

At Jones Day, Pierre Heitzmann represented Iraq Telecom, minority shareholders in Kurdish network Korek Telecom, in a dispute concerning alleged mismanagement and self-dealing by Korek's management, which includes Sirwan Barzani, the nephew of the President of Iraqi Kurdistan. In addition, Sheila Shadmand handles international arbitration work concerning commercial matters, and also provides FCPA investigation advice. Sean Boyce has US regulatory expertise, including sanctions and bribery matters.

At KBH Kaanuun, Bushra Ahmed and DK Singh handle DIFC litigation and arbitration. Its recent workload includes representing KBC Aldini Capital in a dispute with Canaccord Genuity and David Baazov concerning a bid to purchase the outstanding shares of Amaya (as the company that owns PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker was then known), in which Baazov allegedly used the investment bank's name without its consent. Other clients include the liquidators of Orion Holdings, which the firm acts for in a liquidators' recovery claim concerning the alleged dispersal of assets by the company's directors.

At Kennedys, Mark Wilson and Peter Ellingham handle insurance work, including claims concerning D&O, marine and fire policies. Nick Humphrey contributes aviation expertise.

King & Spalding LLP 'works very closely with clients on a hands-on basis - it is clear on likely outcomes and alternative options'. Adrian Cole is 'particularly effective at seeing through problems and coming up with solutions' - he and counsel Zeeshan Dhar handle a range of arbitration work, including construction matters and more unusual Islamic finance disputes. Nabil Issa is representing Riyadh Bank in a claim to enforce a decision of Saudi Arabia's Committee for Banking Disputes in the DIFC courts.

At Pinsent Masons LLP, Mark Raymont represents Assas Opco in a dispute over its termination of Viceroy's contract to manage its hotel on the Palm Jumeirah, which has led to proceedings in the Dubai courts, the DIFC and the US. Damian Crosse handles billion-euro asset recovery litigation in the DIFC courts, among other matters.

Simmons & Simmons Middle East's Payam Beheshti handles challenging financial services disputes, including cross-border claims on guarantees, matters including alleged fraud, mis-selling cases and DFSA investigations. Clients include well-known banks.

At Stephenson Harwood, Rovine Chandrasekera handles work including the enforcement of arbitral awards in the DIFC as well as arbitrations themselves and debt recovery matters. Edward Newitt represents Imdaad Facility Management, which owns a fire safety company, in a dispute with one of its clients after a fire at a building in which the sprinkler system was found to have been deactivated. James Willn is also a key contact. Nick Sharratt joined from Winston & Strawn LLP in 2019.

Winston & Strawn LLP has 'an extremely knowledgeable and capable team' that is 'willing to provide measured yet strong opinions on courses of action'. Ben Bruton is 'technically savvy with excellent client relationship skills - he can explain highly complex legal situations to clients without legal backgrounds' - he handles internal investigations. Nick Sharratt, previously of counsel with the firm, joined Stephenson Harwood in 2019.

Addleshaw Goddard's Paul Hughes handles a range of DIFC and ADGM court litigation, including representing the Kurdistan Regional Government, the autonomous government of the eponymous region of the North of the country, seeking to resist the enforcement of a $2bn LCIA arbitral award. He also acts as an expert witness on DIFC law in litigation outside the UAE. Other work concerns franchising disputes.

Charles Russell Speechlys LLP is 'willing to take bold positions when delivering its advice'. Ghassan El Daye handles cross-border litigation and arbitration across the Arab world, including acting for First Qatar in litigation across the Arab world including the enforcement of an arbitral award. Jonathan Brown, who is also based in Dubai, is another name to note. Other clients include Gulf Chinese Trading Corporation, which El Daye represents in landlord and tenant disputes. Its caseload also includes a high proportion of UAE court litigation.

Covington & Burling LLP handles dispute resolution work including DIFC litigation and international arbitrations based in Dubai. Senior of counsel Daniel Greenwald and special counsel Julie Teperwo are the key names.

At Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle LLP, Jeremy Miocevic and counsel Serena Boscia Montalbano handle ADGM and DIFC litigation, as well as arbitration. Bosicia Montalbano represented an asset management company bringing claims against an allegedly rogue company CEO. The firm also acts for a private client in a dispute with a bank over the enforcement of a guarantee following the insolvency of a restaurant.

At DWF Middle East LLP, James Fox and Rabih Tabbara are representing National Bank of Fujairah, a creditor of Drydocks Work, in opposing the debtor's CVA. Shareholder and hotel management agreement disputes are another area of expertise. Gordon Blanke, whose practice also includes construction, is another key contact for international arbitration. Tabbara also advises on Arabic language litigation.

Alongside his construction practice, Hogan Lovells (Middle East) LLP's Nabeel Ikram handles DIFC and ADGM court cases on issues such as franchising, finance and hotel management agreements.

At Ince, Brian Boahene, Khalid Hamed and Mohamed El Hawawy  represent insurers and reinsurers in claims litigation. Boahene represents Union Insurance and RSA as insurers of a hotel that was closed for two years by a fire.

K&L Gates' Nazanin Aleyaseen handles work concerning, among other matters, fraud and regulatory issues, including health and safety - much of this centred on UAE court litigation strategy. Neal Brendel has a broad international arbitration practice, ranging from construction through to insurance.

Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP's Rebecca Kelly advises on fraud cases and internal investigations. Clients come from sectors including fast-moving consumer goods, construction and energy.

Watson Farley & Williams' disputes offering was blostered by the hire of Charlotte Bijlani from Baker McKenzie Habib Al Mulla. Her practice includes finance and intellectual property matters.

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