Vinson & Elkins Expands Middle East Disputes Presence
Vinson & Elkins’ will expand its Middle East disputes presence in
March, when partner Amir Ghaffari relocates to Dubai to lead the firm’s growing
International Dispute Resolution practice in the region.
Ghaffari, who joined V&E in 2014 and is currently based in London, is an experienced disputes lawyer who represents clients in the construction, energy, financial services, telecoms and private equity sectors in both institutional and ad hoc arbitrations and in cross-border litigation. He also sits as an arbitrator, currently on five international panels, and is dual admitted as an English Solicitor-Advocate and before the DIFC Courts.
“The Middle East plays an important role in our practice, particularly in the energy and construction and engineering sectors,” said Jim Loftis, who leads the firm’s global International Dispute Resolution practice. “Dubai has emerged as a key forum for those disputes. Amir’s move is a direct response to growing client demand for our IDR services in the region."
V&E’s disputes clients in the region include Oman Oil, Chinese oil company, SINOPEC, Saudi Aramco and the Ministry of Oil in Iraq. The firm’s current work additionally includes representing a European contractor in the transport sector in a US$750 million dispute in the Middle East and a pan-Asian investment firm in an ICC dispute related to an engineering procurement and contracting agreement valued at approximately US$2 billion.
With his move to the UAE, Ghaffari becomes the firm’s first permanent disputes partner based in the Middle East. Other firm partners, including Loftis and Mark Beeley, who is a seasoned DIFC Court advocate, also maintain strong practices in the region.
In addition to managing the firm’s busy Middle East disputes practice, Ghaffari will continue to advise Italian energy services company Saipem in its €750 million (approximately US$1 billion) ICC claim against an entity of Russian energy group Gazprom. He is also part of the V&E team that has been retained by the Panama Canal Authority to handle a series of ICC claims arising out of disputes valued at approximately US$5 billion with Grupo Unidos por el Canal, an engineering consortium hired to design and build the third set of locks for the Panama Canal expansion project. The team is led by Nick Henchie in London and Loftis in Houston.
V&E’s International Dispute Resolution and Arbitration practice is among the world’s best, receiving international recognition in Chambers & Partners (2016), Legal 500 (2016) and as a member of the Global Arbitration Review 100 (2016). The firm has represented clients in the energy, infrastructure development and construction, technology/intellectual property, insurance, banking, and pharmaceuticals sectors in more than 60 countries, in virtually every common arbitral venue, and under all major international and regional rules systems.