Herbert Smith Freehills

Arbitration (International) Department

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What the team is known for Teams in London and Paris handle high-value investment treaty and commercial arbitrations, with a particular focus on African and Middle Eastern energy sector disputes. Draws on the presence of experienced partners in Russia who often lead significant financial sector and post-M&A arbitrations. Also noted for its presence in the German market, with teams in Frankfurt and Düsseldorf advising international companies on post-M&A and contractual disputes. Has notable experience in sectors such as telecoms, construction and pharmaceuticals, and also represents sovereign states and state-owned entities. Strengthened offering in Madrid with the arrival of David Arias in spring 2019.

Strengths The firm garners praise for its international expertise, with one source noting that it is "well known among the local legal communities for its active presence and excellent expertise in cross-border transactions," adding that the firm "strives to understand clients' needs and accommodate their concerns and offer best solutions."

Another client notes that the team is "multidisciplinary, international and has experience in several countries," adding that the team members "have been flexible and have adapted at all times to our requirements."

Work highlights Acted for Standard Chartered Bank and its Hong Kong subsidiary on a USD150 million ICSID arbitration case against the Government of Tanzania relating to the client's investment in a power station in Tanzania.

Notable practitioners

David Arias joined the firm's Madrid office in spring 2019. Sources deem him to be "very clever" and "an extremely successful arbitrator." He remains a popular choice for arbitrations with links to Spain and Latin America. He is often appointed on ICC tribunals.

Global arbitration head Paula Hodges QC has noteworthy experience in complex commercial arbitrations, including post-M&A and production sharing agreement disputes. She is particularly reputed for her expertise in energy-related disputes and has further expertise in the technology space. A client highlights her "great professional legal skills and experience in arbitration," adding that "she is extremely responsive and is very pleasant to work with. If there is something that comes up outside of her area she knows exactly who to send it to in her firm. She is really very knowledgeable and we always feel that we are in capable hands."