Watson Farley & Williams > Dubai, United Arab Emirates > Firm Profile

Watson Farley & Williams
United Arab Emirates

United Arab Emirates > Shipping Tier 2

Watson Farley & WilliamsAndrew Baird leads a ‘terrifically cohesive‘ full-service shipping practice. Andrew also acts as managing partner and has particular expertise in cross-border financings and advises on loans and leasing transactions. Michael Savva is a go-to contact at the firm for ship financing and restructuring. Charlotte Bijlani is a key point of contact in the dispute resolution team, and Charlotte Knight provides support at the associate level.

Practice head(s):

Andrew Baird


‘Terrifically cohesive team, led well by very competent management. Appropriate billing and commercial advice.’

‘Direct and to the point, proactive advice. Solid attention to detail whilst getting to the answer quickly.’

‘Experienced and very commercial.’

‘Andrew Baird has a wealth of experience. Always makes himself available and is very practical in his approach.’

Key clients

Viken Aurum Shipowners Holdings Limited

Maritime Equity Management LLC

Bahri Chemicals

Work highlights

  • Advised Viken Aurum Shipowners Holdings Limited in respect of the pre-delivery financing of two Aframax-type LR2 vessels equipped with Liquified Natural Gas propulsion currently under construction at Guangzhou Shipyard International.
  • Advised United Overseas Groupon the acquisition of United Arab Chemical Carriers, a shipping company specialising in the international transportation of refined products and chemicals based out of the Dubai International Financial Centre.
  • Acted for Bahri Chemicals on their ten ship newbuilding programme at Hyundai Mipo.

United Arab Emirates > Banking and finance: Corporate finance (including Islamic lending) Tier 4

Watson Farley & Williams advises on a range of secured and unsecured debt financing transactions for banks and financial institutions. Practice head Andrew Baird focuses on cross-border asset and project finance and is praised for his ‘commercial and solutions driven attitude‘. Other key names to note include Michael Savva and associate Charlotte Knight, who is ‘results driven‘ and ‘intelligent‘.

Practice head(s):

Andrew Baird

Other key lawyers:


‘Very impressed by the firm in all aspects, main strengths include: broad and deep knowledge of the renewable energy sector; very strong on financing documentation and portfolio financing in particular; legal advice – never loses sight of the commercial realities; very patient, flexible and supportive when encountering delays and unforeseen events; access to expertise from more mature markets, in particular their London team.’

‘Andrew Baird – extremely knowledgeable, easy to deal with, commercially minded, strong network, patient.’

Without doubt the best experience we have had with any lawyers in the UAE, hence the reason we have returned to them for multiple work streams. The main differentiator has been the clear and unambiguous advice they give, their commercial mindset, their market expertise and sector knowledge, and the patience and support they provide at all steps of the way without constantly trying to increase fees like most other lawyers.

‘Andrew Baird: Long-standing experience in maritime sector, both with banking or other finance parties and industry clients. Extensive knowledge of international maritime corporate finance related issues and transactions. Deep knowledge of shipping industries, its problems and practices. Problem solver and bridge builder never losing sight of client’s interest. Commercial and solution driven attitude based on his experience and understanding of the sector. Hard worker, delivering on promises.’

Charlotte Knight: Results-driven, intelligent, knowledgeable and hard-working lawyer who knows her way in the maritime sector. Delivers as promised, never loses overview in complicated transactions, bringing all parts of a transaction successfully together. Strong with people, whether client or not always focusing on delivering high quality work within agreed time frames.

Key clients

Viken Aurum Shipowners Holdings Limited

Maritime Equity Management LLC

Siraj Power Holding Limited

Various clients

Work highlights

  • Acted as counsel to VASHL in respect of the pre-delivery financing of two Aframax-type LR2 vessels equipped with Liquified Natural Gas propulsion currently under construction at Guangzhou Shipyard International.
  • Advised Maritime Equity Management LLC on the DIFC law aspects of a wider restructuring transaction in relation to United Arab Chemical Carriers Limited.
  • Acted for Siraj as the borrower under a groundbreaking $50m secured portfolio project financing of rooftop solar PV assets.

United Arab Emirates > Dispute resolution: arbitration and international litigation Tier 4

Watson Farley & Williams' practice has a strong focus on the transport, real estate and energy sectors. The practice is led by the 'highly experienced' Charlotte Bijlani, who has extensive expertise handling a broad range of commercial and financial disputes. Counsel Soraya Corm-Bakhos and senior associate Thomas Whitefield are also noted.

Practice head(s):

Charlotte Bijlani

Other key lawyers:

Thomas Whitfield; Soraya Corm-Bakhos


‘This is an excellent team headed up by Charlotte Bijlani who is highly experienced in international commercial arbitration and litigation.’

‘Biljani is supported by a tight-knit first class team, including Soraya Corm-Bakhos, who is exceptionally hard-working, bright, and will go the extra mile to ensure the best possible service for their clients.’

‘This team sets the very high benchmark by which their competitors should be judged.’

‘I have predominately dealt with Charlotte Bijlani and Thomas Whitfield. Both have been responsive to my demands as well as naturally taking the initiative where required.

‘Stand-out Partner: Charlotte Bijlani.’

‘Charlotte Bijlani is a star of the commercial disputes scene in Dubai and the UAE.’ 

‘Charlotte Biljani has an acute sense for where the battle lines are likely to fall in any dispute and the issues on which the dispute is likely to turn. She is an exceptionally able lawyer with a strong understanding of the key commercial drivers for her client.’

‘Charlotte Biljani is also a great team player who never loses her cool, even in the face of aggression from her opponents. A real professional.’

Dedicated to client care, industry focus and investment in our people
We are a sector specialist international law firm in the energy, transport and infrastructure sectors advising on complex transactions and disputes through local knowledge and an integrated international network.

Our business exists to help our clients achieve their goals, partnering with them to meet the challenges they face today and will face tomorrow.

Our values rest on developing deep and long-lasting relationships externally and internally through respect, sharing, communication and integrity.

We strive for excellence in all that we do and view investment in our people as key to achieving our business goals and values.

Our teams are integrated across legal disciplines and offices delivering consistently high levels of service locally and in combination across borders.

History: Sector focus has been at the heart of our strategy since we opened for business in 1982.  Having started life as an asset finance boutique focussing on the maritime and aviation industries, our transport focus quickly expanded to other supply-chain led industries, most notably, renewable and conventional energy and infrastructure across these industries.

Through our offices around the world, we provide a full suite of services within our core sectors enabling us to deliver exceptional value to our clients.


  • Founded 1982
  • 175+ partners
  • 580+ lawyers
  • 17 offices

Senior Partner: George Paleokrassas
Managing Partner: Lindsey Keeble

Global Sector Heads:
Jim Bell, Charles Viggers
Energy: Malte Jordan, Henry Stewart
Infrastructure: Florian Kutzbach and Jose Maria Anarte
Maritime: George Macheras, George Paleokrassas
Mining & Commodities: Jan Mellmann
Oil & Gas: Chris Kilburn

Andrew Baird photo Andrew BairdAndrew Baird is a partner in the asset finance group. Andrew has…
Charlotte Bijlani photo Charlotte BijlaniCharlotte is an experienced dispute resolution lawyer with full rights of audience…