In the recent case of Jones and others v United Kingdom, the European Court of Human Rights (the Court) found that the United Kingdom had not breached Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights (the right of access to a court) by granting immunity from jurisdiction to Saudi Arabia and its officials in respect of civil claims brought against them for alleged acts of torture. The Court held that the generally recognised rules of public international law did not contain an exception to State immunity in respect of civil claims concerning alleged acts of torture. It also found that such immunity of a State also protects individual employees and officers in respect of acts undertaken on behalf of the State.
Herbert Smith Freehills ranked as the 5th busiest arbitration practice in the world by Global Arbitration Review
We are delighted to announce that Herbert Smith Freehills’ International Arbitration practice has been ranked in the top 5 busiest practices in the world according to the prestigious GAR 30 survey conducted by Global Arbitration Review (GAR).
Herbert Smith Freehills moved up 3 places in a very competitive table of 30 global arbitration practices and is now ranked as number 5 in the world.
GAR’s rankings of the world’s most active arbitration practices were revealed at the publication’s annual awards dinner in Paris on 12th February 2014.
GAR is one of the leading publications of the international arbitration community worldwide. Its annual awards as well as its law firm rankings ‚Äď GAR 30 and GAR 100 – are the most closely watched in the field. The rankings are compiled from extensive information provided by law firms which includes the number of merits and jurisdictional hearings attended during the past two years; the number of settlements; the number of hours billed to arbitration; and the number of arbitral appointments each firm¬†receives.
The rankings also take into account the reputation of the firm’s partners amongst the arbitral community in the peer-nominated Who’s Who of Commercial Arbitration. Herbert Smith Freehills is ranked 2nd globally with a total of 14 notable arbitration specialists.
Head of the firm’s Global Arbitration Practice, Paula Hodges, comments:
“We are obviously delighted that our global strength and expertise in international arbitration has been recognised by a further rise in the GAR 30 rankings this year. Our international arbitration practice is going from strength to strength and this accolade is testament to that.”
GAR 30 full rankings can be viewed here.
The International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) has recently released its latest statistics concerning the cases brought under its auspices.
The report provides a number of interesting statistics on cases registered by ICSID historically, and in the year 2013, including; the distribution by economic sector; the basis of consent invoked to establish ICSID jurisdiction, the geographic distribution of cases by state party involved and the outcomes of cases decided and settled or otherwise discontinued.
The report is published twice a year and can be found here.
On 27 January 2014, the International Court of Justice (the ICJ or the Court) delivered its judgment in the Maritime Dispute (Peru v Chile) case, which concerned the delimitation of the maritime boundary between Peru and Chile in the Pacific Ocean. The judgment brings to an end a six-year legal proceeding.
The judgment is particularly noteworthy in view of its conclusion that the parties had previously agreed a single maritime boundary, extending 80 nautical miles due west from the end of the land border. The Court then proceeded to draw the rest of the maritime boundary based on the principle of equidistance in accordance with the Court’s standard three-step methodology. Both Peru and Chile have hailed the judgment as a partial victory and have pledged to abide by it.
In The Titan Unity (No. 2)  SGHCR 04, an Assistant Registrar refused to grant, amongst others, a party’s application for an order that it be allowed to join arbitration proceedings that were on foot. ¬†The Singapore court refused the application on the basis that it should not override the joinder mechanism that parties to that existing arbitration had already agreed to, which required their express consent to be obtained before any other entity could be joined.
In its reasoning, the court considered whether parties to an arbitration agreement had, by their conduct or otherwise, consented to extend the agreement to a non-party and if that non-party had agreed to be bound accordingly.
The decision raises interesting issues relating to the court’s power under the Singapore International Arbitration Act (IAA) and the UNCITRAL Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration (Model Law) to order joinder. It also ultimately affirmed the Singapore courts’ appreciation of the primacy of parties’ consent in arbitration. The decision serves as an important reminder that parties should consider the complex issues created by multi-party and multi-contract scenarios when drafting their agreements to avoid multiplicity of proceedings and ensure that potential disputes could be dealt with in an efficient way in arbitration.
The Global Arbitration Practice is pleased to announce that Dr Mathias Wittinghofer has joined the firm as a partner in its global dispute resolution practice. Mathias will be based in Frankfurt.
Mathias is dual qualified as a German attorney at law and a solicitor in England and Wales.¬† He has extensive international arbitration experience with a particular specialism¬† in disputes involving the banking and finance sector, as well as merger and acquisition disputes. He has advised on disputes under the rules of all major arbitral institutions, including the ICC, LCIA, and DIS, as well as ad hoc arbitrations under the UNCITRAL Rules.¬† His clients include banks, private equity firms and other members of the banking and finance industry, as well as major corporations.¬† He is a member of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators and sits as an arbitrator.¬† He is also a lecturer on international arbitration at the Goethe University in Frankfurt.
Mathias’ arrival in the firm’s Frankfurt office signals a further expansion of Herbert Smith Freehills’ German capability.¬† He is the fourth partner to join the firm’s Frankfurt office since it opened for business in April 2013 and the first disputes partner.
Head of the global arbitration practice, Paula Hodges, comments: “We are delighted to welcome Mathias to the team.¬† He has excellent international arbitration experience and is a strong addition to our global practice.¬† We look forward to working with Mathias”.
Herbert Smith Freehills has issued its latest Indian International Arbitration e-bulletin. The e-bulletin considers some significant decisions of the Indian courts, including on the arbitrability of fraud claims and on the proper forum for deciding the scope of an arbitration agreement. We also provide an update on the Indian investment treaty arbitration landscape.
Herbert Smith Freehills will be hosting a breakfast briefing in its Hong Kong office on 27 February 2014 to discuss these recent developments in Indian arbitration. If you are interested in attending, please click here or contact Briana Young.
ICJ hears submissions from East Timor and Australia on provisional measures in pending case relating to seizure of documents from office of Australian lawyer
The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has heard submissions from Australia and East Timor on provisional measures sought by East Timor in proceedings relating to documents seized by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) from the office of an Australian lawyer representing East Timor in an upcoming arbitration with Australia.
At the hearing, which was held in The Hague from 20-22 January, East Timor sought a number of provisional measures including that Australia:
- deliver the seized documents and data into the custody of the ICJ;
- deliver to East Timor and the ICJ a list of the documents and data seized in the raid that have been disclosed to any person and a list of those persons;
- deliver a list of any copies made of the seized documents and destroy any copies made of the documents ; and
- give an assurance that it will not intercept communications between East Timor and its legal advisors.
The date on which the ICJ will hand down its decision on the provisional measures is yet to be announced.
Commercial Court provides guidance on “serious irregularity” and confirms arbitral tribunal has jurisdiction to determine contractual rights and obligations in light of criminal conduct
In the recent decision of Interprods Ltd v De La Rue International Ltd  EWHC 68 (Comm), the English Commercial Court dismissed the challenges under sections 67 and 68 of the Arbitration Act 1996 (the Act) against an arbitral award. In this case, the arbitrator held that the defendant (De La Rue) had been entitled to terminate agency agreements with the claimant (Interprods) and was not obliged to pay outstanding commission to it in circumstances where a representative of Interprods had allegedly stated that such commission would be used to pay bribes.
Interprods challenged the award under: (i) section 67 of the Act on the basis that the arbitrator had lacked jurisdiction to make the award in question; and (ii) section 68 of the Act on the basis that there had been serious irregularities in the making of the award.
In another pro-arbitration decision emanating from the Supreme Court of India in the case of World Sport Group (Mauritius) Ltd v MSM Satellite (Singapore) Pte Ltd,¬Ļ the court referred to arbitration a dispute involving allegations of fraud. In doing so, the court read restrictively its previous decision in N Radhakrishnan v Maestro Engineering¬≤ ‚Äď where it had held that issues of fraud fell more properly to be determined by courts. The court held that the interpretation given in Radhakrishnan applied only to domestic arbitration. The recent decision further reduces the risk of interference by courts in foreign-seated arbitrations.