Michael Tselentis KC > Twenty Essex > London, England > Lawyer Profile

Twenty Essex

Work Department

  • Arbitration and mediation
  • Commercial law
  • Energy and natural resources
  • Insurance and reinsurance
  • Private international law
  • Shipping


Michael’s practice as an international arbitrator covers a wide field, which includes energy and natural resources (principally oil and gas, mining and minerals), shipping and commodities, commercial disputes (including agency, distribution/franchising, joint ventures, shareholder agreements and contractual disputes generally), investment arbitration (with a focus on mining disputes in Africa), insurance, construction and engineering.

He has been a full-time arbitrator since 2015 when he retired from advocacy work in order to concentrate on his arbitration practice. During a 36-year career, he appeared as leading counsel in many cases in these areas before trial and appellate courts in South Africa and England, and before arbitral tribunals, including a number of high-value international arbitrations in London, Paris and Singapore.

Before Michael relocated his practice to London in 1996, he was a leading commercial Silk at the Johannesburg Bar, with a specialisation in mining law, and held general retainers from the Anglo American and De Beers groups of companies. He was also an acting judge of the Supreme Court of South Africa, and was the Chairman of the Johannesburg Bar in 1993/1994.

Michael has been appointed in over 100 references as presiding arbitrator, tribunal member and sole arbitrator, principally (though by no means exclusively) in ICC, LCIA, PCA, SIAC, LMAA, HKIAC and ad hoc arbitrations under the UNCITRAL rules. Much of his arbitration work has an Asian or African focus. Arbitral seats have included London, Paris, Geneva, Singapore, Hong Kong, DIFC, Lagos, Cyprus, Dar Es Salaam, Johannesburg and Mauritius. His appointments have involved a wide variety of governing laws, including the laws of England, France, Singapore, the Netherlands, Western Australia, Indonesia, Qatar, Kenya, Trinidad and Tobago, South Africa, Swazi, Lesotho, Angola, Tanzania, Zambia, Nigeria and international law.

His common law expertise is complemented by a wide experience of civil law systems, including South Africa, France, the Netherlands, Thailand, Romania, Finland, Russia, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan.


Called South Africa 1978; appointed senior counsel South Africa 1989; acting judge of the Supreme Court of South Africa (Witwatersrand local division) 1992; member Johannesburg Bar Council 1986-88; vice-chairman 1992-93; chairman 1993-94; member National Bar Examination Board 1992-94; called to the English Bar 1995, Gray’s Inn; also admitted to the Bar in Namibia and Bophuthatswana.


Afrikaans (fluent)


  • Anglo-Russian Law Association
  • Association of Arbitrators of Southern Africa: Fellow
  • ACICA: Fellow
  • Baltic Exchange.
  • Botswana Institute of Arbitrators: Fellow
  • CIA: Fellow
  • Chinese-European Legal Association
  • Commercial Bar Association
  • ICC
  • Insurance and Reinsurance Arbitration Society
  • International Congress and Convention Association
  • LCIA
  • LMAA (supporting member)
  • Perth Centre for Energy and Resources Arbitration
  • Singapore Institute of Arbitrators: Fellow
  • South African Maritime Law Association
  • Technology and Construction Bar Association


  • University of Oxford, Magdalen College: Bachelor of Civil Law, First Class (1975)
  • University of Cape Town: BA, Distinction; LLB, First Class (1971)


Member Oxford and Cambridge Club; squash.

Lawyer Rankings

London Bar > International arbitration: arbitrators

(Leading arbitrators)Ranked: Tier 2

Michael Tselentis KCTwenty EssexA truly excellent arbitrator, hugely experienced, conscientious and diligent, scrupulously fair, and approachable.