We receive consistent praise for the quality of our lawyers, the calibre of our advice, and our rigorous commitment to achieving our clients’ goals. Arbitration specialists Alexandra Key and Oliver Stokes explain how Bellevue Law is the perfect fit for those looking for a cost-effective, agile firm to handle an international arbitration matter.
What is International Arbitration?
Although, like litigation, arbitration is used to resolve legal disputes, it is a distinct and complex practice area so it’s important for parties to arbitral proceedings to instruct a firm with specialist experience in this field.
Arbitration is a contractual dispute resolution method in which the parties appoint a Tribunal to hear the case and make an award, which is final and binding on them (save – as a matter of English law – in exceptional circumstances). Parties to international disputes often choose arbitration over litigation in national courts – usually via the inclusion of an arbitration clause in the commercial contract to which a dispute relates – in a range of scenarios, such as:
- When the parties are based in different jurisdictions and neither wishes to be subject to the national courts of the other.
- When there is a dispute that requires some procedural flexibility (for example, when it comes to documentary disclosure or scheduling hearings).
- When privacy is essential (whilst a court hearing will be a matter of public record, arbitration occurs behind closed doors).
- When a greater degree of finality is sought (the scope for appeal tends to be much more limited).
- When enforcement of a court judgment could be difficult. Where the parties are based in different jurisdictions which have signed up to the New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards, enforcement of an arbitral award can be much faster, cheaper and easier than enforcing a court judgment.
In such cases, arbitration can be of great benefit to the parties involved. However, international arbitration has its own body of rules and procedures which can be different from those used in domestic litigation. It is therefore crucial that the team working on your case has the necessary skills and experience to navigate these as well as the law relevant to your dispute.
Why Bellevue Law?
The quality and work ethic of our team, coupled with our experience and capability to manage practicalities, mean that we can tackle both intricate disputes and more straightforward matters.
‘[Bellevue Law] have been consistently insightful, incisive and provided excellent advice as well as a full range of options on our approach throughout our relationship.’
We receive regular referrals from teams at City, national and international firms, and are also experienced at working directly with clients’ in-house lawyers. We have a network of foreign lawyers, experts and others whom we trust to assist in providing a high-quality service in the variety of legal and factual areas that international arbitration often requires.
We offer high-quality dispute resolution that is affordable. Our model means that we can manage large-scale disputes more cost-effectively than larger firms and handle smaller matters that a referring firm might consider important but simply uneconomic to run. By referring smaller cases to us, firms can be confident that a valued client will be in safe hands.
Arbitration Experience: Recent Highlights
Our team has considerable experience and skill when it comes to managing complex disputes, and has represented clients in several international arbitration matters in recent years.
Senior Consultant Alexandra Key joined us in 2015 after 12 years with Allen & Overy, where she was a Senior Associate and member of the International Arbitration Group. Alexandra has over a decade of international arbitration experience, and has acted for and against foreign governments, commercial entities and high-net-worth private individuals in a variety of different jurisdictions and applying diverse foreign laws.
Alexandra recently represented the respondent and counter-claimant (a high-net-worth individual) in a property rights dispute concerning a foreign residential property. The case included a dispute as to whether the matter was res judicata (i.e. the tribunal lacked jurisdiction because the matter had already been determined by another court), and culminated in a three-day hearing in London under the UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules. The single arbitrator found in favour of our client.
Oliver Stokes joined Bellevue Law as a Senior Consultant in 2016, having previously spent over ten years at Withers and Lipman Karas. Oliver has a great deal of experience in complex arbitration, and recently acted for a major Eastern European construction company in a lengthy multi-million Euro international arbitration. The case involved a dispute as to contractual interpretation under local law, an alleged time bar under foreign law, a ‘critical path’ delay analysis and over 20 factual and expert witnesses. The case was ultimately settled on favourable terms following our client’s submissions to the Tribunal.
Oliver is currently representing a state-owned energy company in an international arbitration concerning a multi-million Euro engineering dispute.
Our caseload is diverse: whilst we have the capability to act in complex matters we are also uniquely equipped to be able to take on smaller – yet important – cases and have successfully and cost-effectively represented clients in arbitral claims with low six-figure sum values.
City-Firm Standards for a Lower Cost: Our Unique Approach
‘I want to take a moment and express our appreciation for the superb job you did on the matter. You were flawless, thoughtful, sensitive and very careful with your expenditure of time and our resources. I will make a point of suggesting [Bellevue Law] to my partners and colleagues for our future needs.’
Bellevue Law was established with an uncompromising dedication to best-practice standards and systems in every aspect of our work.
This vision has been realised in several ways. First, the quality of our lawyers, all of whom practised at international and magic circle firms before joining our team. Second, our unique model, which promotes agile, flexible working, and eliminates unnecessary overheads. Recognising that a firm is only as a good as its staff, we champion an infrastructure that supports and nurtures our lawyers, allowing us to attract exceptional talent whilst reducing costs. Third, we have established a trusted network of specialist network providers (from legal copying services to innovative IT management systems), eliminating the need for large teams of permanent staff, and ensuring that we can work as effectively from anywhere in the world as from our London office facilities – without delay, interruption, or any drop in standards.
As a result, we can manage matters that larger firms cannot undertake cost-effectively, whilst maintaining the exceptional quality of service their clients have come to expect.