NZ dispute resolution lawyers going strong in the UK despite COVID-19

In the face of restrictions, NZ practitioners are still performing well in London firms and the UK bar

NZ dispute resolution lawyers going strong in the UK despite COVID-19

New Zealand dispute resolution lawyers are still making a splash in the UK’s legal industry in spite of COVID-19, according to a Waikato-born, London-based QC.

Ahead of the virtual return of London International Disputes Week (LIDW) this year in May, Wendy Miles QC, a barrister at global chambers Twenty Essex, highlighted the strong representation of New Zealand practitioners in the UK’s dispute resolution scene.

“Despite COVID-19 and lockdown, New Zealand and Australian lawyers continue to make a good showing at the English bar and in the senior partner ranks in both UK magic circle and top US law firms in London,” Miles told NZ Lawyer.

She cited a recent Waitangi Day email sent by Audley Sheppard QC, the New Zealand-born co-head of the international disputes group at global firm Clifford Chance, to about 30 senior international disputes practitioners based overseas, which revealed that the majority of these lawyers operated from London.

“One of the draws of international dispute resolution in the UK, and in particular international arbitration, is the option for solicitors to conduct their own advocacy,” Miles said. “New Zealand lawyers immediately qualify as both barristers and solicitors, and litigation associates in New Zealand law firms are in court, as counsel, from the start.”

Miles said that London “remains a mecca for international dispute resolution and hub for international arbitration” in spite of Brexit.

“In London, as solicitors, solicitor advocates or barristers, we are likely to continue to see a strong showing of New Zealand and Australian lawyers,” she said. “Latest institutional statistics show almost 90% of LCIA cases seated in London. London is also the most popular seat for ICC arbitration, ahead of Paris, where it is headquartered.”

Miles said that London-based New Zealand and Australian dispute resolution practitioners were “the quintessential London international disputes lawyers,” which makes events like LIDW so important.

“For New Zealand and Australian dispute resolution lawyers in London, LIDW really is a focus event. We choose to live in London, half a world away from home, to practice international dispute resolution,” she said. “LIDW showcases and celebrates what generations of New Zealand and Australian lawyers already know – that there is no better place to pursue an international dispute resolution career.”

Outside of the UK, Miles highlighted other New Zealand lawyers playing key roles in the international dispute resolution scene, including Clifford Chance’s international arbitration co-lead Jason Fry QC, Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre Secretary General Sarah Grimmer and former UN Special Tribunal for Lebanon President Sir David Baragwanath, who was also previously the New Zealand member of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague.

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