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Norton Rose Fulbright launches NRF Covid Resolve platform

Global law firm Norton Rose Fulbright has today launched NRF Covid Resolve, a new online legal framework and process for expedited dispute resolution.

COVID-19 has made it difficult for many companies to perform some of their contractual obligations, giving rise to a high number of corporate disputes, particularly relating to the application of force majeure and change in law provisions.

Commercial contracts usually prescribe formal, lengthy and costly modes of dispute resolution. In the current crisis, the overriding need in many cases is to ‘get back to business’ quickly in a way which is still fair to all parties. ADR is being actively encouraged to avoid a deluge of post-COVID-19 litigations.

At the same time, due to the wider financial impact of the pandemic – particularly in the energy sector with the oil price crash – many in-house legal departments are under pressure to conserve legal spend.

To tackle this challenge, a taskforce of energy and disputes lawyers at Norton Rose Fulbright worked with NRF Transform – the firm’s global change and innovation programme – to develop NRF Covid Resolve. It is a dispute resolution process supported through a single online platform, that aims to achieve an outcome for each dispute within four to six weeks. The process can be used for both disputes between companies, or for disputes between companies within the same group, operating in both civil law and common law jurisdictions. Its fixed price allows users to effectively plan and control their budgets.

Parties may opt for a mediation process only, a mediation process followed by documents only arbitration or an arbitration only. The mediators and arbitrators are selected from a pre-agreed panel of independent sector specialists available through the platform.

Anne Lapierre, Norton Rose Fulbright’s Global Head of Energy and developer of NRF Covid Resolve, commented: “The energy industry faces unprecedented challenges from COVID-19, compounded by the wider transformation of the sector as it undertakes the essential transition away from fossil fuels. As such, we feel it our duty to come up with practical solutions to help clients get back to what they do best as quickly as possible. Our unique solution to managing the influx of disputes will do exactly that. Taking this product from conception to launch in under two months is an achievement in which our energy and disputes lawyers should take great pride.”

Neil Q Miller, a London-based energy disputes partner, said: “Businesses, governments, judiciary and commentators have all emphasised the need for a different approach to resolve the volume of potential claims arising from COVID-19. Many such disputes are not suited to lengthy, procedurally burdensome and costly traditional dispute resolution methods, with businesses being damaged by the impasse created from managing many live disputes with no way of efficiently resolving them. NRF Covid Resolve allows clients through their legal departments to adopt a fast track process and effectively plan, manage and resolve these claims whilst controlling external legal spend, which is a priority now more than ever.”

David Carter, Chief Product Officer for Norton Rose Fulbright and global lead for NRF Transform, commented: “The impact of COVID-19 meant clients needed a solution rapidly or it would be too late to help. Our outstanding team of NRF Transform product managers, legal designers, business analysts, solutions architects and developers delivered a technical solution matching our lawyers’ vision. Simplicity was key; the intuitive platform is easy to access and navigate.”

The platform will be rolled out first to clients in the energy sector, with plans for the mediator and arbitrator panel to expand over the coming weeks so clients in all sectors can benefit.

Pinsent Masons grows its Financial Services offering in Dubai

Multinational law firm, Pinsent Masons, has appointed Banking & Finance partner Matthew Escritt to lead the firm’s Banking & Finance practice in the Middle East, based in Dubai.

Matthew joins from Norton Rose Fulbright, where he has been for the past 19 years, with the past eight spent as partner in the banking and finance team. During this time he has worked in London, Moscow, Bahrain, Singapore and Dubai.

Matthew is a banking and finance specialist, advising on all areas of structured cross border finance, including syndicated lending acquisition, development finance, asset finance, vendor finance, and structured trade and commodity finance. He is familiar with both conventional and Islamic finance funding structures. He also advises on financial restructuring and insolvency mandates. Based in Dubai, he will be leading the Banking & Finance practice in the Middle East (within the Finance & Projects group) and will focus primarily on clients in the Financial Services sector.

Commenting on Matthew’s appointment, Michael Watson, head of the Finance & Projects group at Pinsent Masons said: “Matthew’s reputation precedes him and we look forward to welcoming him as head of our banking and finance practice in Dubai. His experience and expertise will greatly strengthen the practice, enabling them to deepen relationships with existing clients as well as developing new ones. His appointment is another fantastic addition to our growing international capabilities.”

Alexis Roberts, head of the Financial Services sector at Pinsent Masons added: “Matthew’s appointment is a pivotal one in increasing our financing bench strength and will enable us to better support our clients within the Financial Services sector. His breadth of experience and the clients that he’s worked with will allow us to grow our offering across the sector. We greatly look forward to him joining the team.”

Matthew Escritt, head of Banking and Finance in the Middle East added: “I am excited to have been given the opportunity to lead Pinsent Masons’ Banking & Finance practice in the region and to be part of an international team tasked with growing a strategically important practice area to complement the firm’s existing strengths. It will also ensure that we are able to provide vital, full-service support to our clients as they navigate today’s challenging business environment. Given the diverse talents of the individuals involved and the well-known strengths of the existing practice I am confident that we are well placed to achieve our goals.”

Adding to the growing multinational Finance & Projects group, Matthew’s appointment follows that of Anthony Morton in Frankfurt, James Harris in Asia, Jim Hunwick in Sydney and Eran Chivka in Paris.

Advisory firm Avonhurst boosts practice with associate hires

Avonhurst today announced four new associate hires, cementing the rapid growth that has characterised its first year. Senior associate Joshua Swerner joins the firm from Linklaters, where he spent time in the London and Moscow offices; Tanya Macrae joins from Allen & Overy (Brussels and London) and has worked at both Latham & Watkins and Herbert Smith Freehills; Oliver Elsaesser joins as an associate from Paul Hastings and Katja Loncaric joins from the London office of Norton Rose Fulbright, having previously worked in Clifford Chance’s Frankfurt office.

Avonhurst is a political risk and legal advisory firm dedicated to representing sophisticated capital. Since its launch in July 2019 by founding partner Jonathan Bloom, the firm has attracted a raft of established talent, including seven partner hires – mostly from magic circle firms – as well as hiring four leading figures from the political, financial and legal sectors as senior advisers, including Lord (Gavin) Barwell, tech entrepreneur Sean West, General, the Lord (Nick) Houghton, Blackstone’s Andrew Dowler and Tina Fordham (Partner and Head of Global Political Strategy), formerly of Citigroup.

These have been complemented by the additions of high yield specialist Albert Aharonian (previously at Milbank, Paul Hastings and Sidley Austin), and political expert Jessica Turner who is a US lawyer having joined out of law school and has extensive experience including working on Capitol Hill, Washington DC and at the House of Commons in London.

Jonathan Bloom, Chief Executive of Avonhurst, comments: “We are delighted to welcome Joshua, Tanya, Oliver and Katja to the firm. While we are justifiably proud of our ability to attract established partner talent, we recognise that our long-term sustainability as a leading adviser to sophisticated capital clients requires excellence at every level. We are committed to attracting, nurturing and growing the very best associates.

“Our new hires bring valuable UK and international experience in corporate, antitrust, leveraged, export credit, trade and asset-backed finance, financial services and capital markets, honed at some of the biggest and best law firms in the world. They will work alongside our market-leading partners and advisers to ensure our clients get top-level service across legal, legislative and political advisory, and capital services.”

Continued

Launched in 2019, Avonhurst is dedicated to meeting the changing needs of sophisticated capital by providing a bespoke offering comprising legal advisory, political strategy and capital services. A group of market-leading founders and influencers from the legal world have created a revolutionary advisory business dedicated to helping funds, capital providers, corporate borrowers and issuers, and secured lenders, navigate the complexities of ever-changing markets.

Pinsent Masons hires construction partner in Melbourne

International law firm Pinsent Masons has hired Phillipa Beck to expand the firm’s Construction Advisory & Disputes team in Australia.

Phillipa is a construction lawyer advising on project delivery and disputes across the energy and infrastructure sectors in Asia Pacific, including Private Public Partnerships (PPP). She joins from Norton Rose Fulbright.

Matthew Croagh, Head of Pinsent Masons Australia said, “There is a strong and expanding pipeline of major projects across Asia Pacific. Philippa brings valuable experience that is well suited to our sector-focused approach. Her skills in advising clients on mega projects developing flexible, innovative solutions that provide the foundation for a project’s successful delivery will be an asset to the firm.”

Phillipa expertise spans risk management, dispute avoidance and all forms of dispute resolution.

Fraser McMillan, Head of Construction Advisory & Disputes in Australia added, “Australia ranks as a world leader in infrastructure development, but challenges around its ability to meet infrastructure demand is set to intensify. Phillipa has the right skillset to work alongside project teams across the firm supporting clients in finding the right solutions to tackle these challenges; whether that be through joint ventures or other frameworks.”

This appointment follows the continued expansion of our infrastructure and energy team in Asia Pacific. Pinsent Masons Australia has more than 100 specialist infrastructure and energy lawyers and business professionals working across our three offices in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth. Recent major projects the firm is advising on in Australia include: the A$11 billion North East Link, Victoria’s largest roads project, the East Rockingham Resource Recovery Facility, Australia’s second only waste-to-energy project and the Stockyard Wind Farm, the largest wind farm in the South Hemisphere.

Norton Rose advises consortium of banks on $500m bond issuance

Global law firm Norton Rose Fulbright has advised Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Limited, Citigroup Global Markets Limited, Emirates NBD Bank PJSC, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Limited, Dubai (DIFC) Branch, J.P. Morgan Securities plc and Société Générale as joint lead managers on a US$500 million bond issuance by Emirates NBD Bank PJSC.

The notes are due February 2025 and were issued off Emirates NBD Bank PJSC’s $12,500,000,000 Euro Medium Term Note Programme, which was updated in July 2019 and on which Norton Rose Fulbright also advised.

The Dubai-based Norton Rose Fulbright team was led by head of debt capital markets for the Middle East, Gregory Man, with assistance from senior associate, Ganna Vlasenko.

Gregory Man commented: “We are proud to have been involved in this transaction. This deal builds on Norton Rose Fulbright’s track record of advising on notable bond transactions in the region and once again provided us with the opportunity to represent many of our leading financial institutions clients.”

About Norton Rose Fulbright

We provide the world’s preeminent corporations and financial institutions with a full business law service. We have more than 3,700 lawyers and other legal staff based in Europe, the United States, Canada, Latin America, Asia, Australia, the Middle East and Africa.

Recognised for our industry focus, we are strong across all the key industry sectors: financial institutions; energy; infrastructure, mining and commodities; transport; technology and innovation; and life sciences and healthcare. Through our global risk advisory group, we leverage our industry experience with our knowledge of legal, regulatory, compliance and governance issues to provide our clients with practical solutions to the legal and regulatory risks facing their businesses.

Wherever we are, we operate in accordance with our global business principles of quality, unity and integrity. We aim to provide the highest possible standard of legal service in each of our offices and to maintain that level of quality at every point of contact.

Norton Rose Fulbright Verein, a Swiss verein, helps coordinate the activities of Norton Rose Fulbright members but does not itself provide legal services to clients. Norton Rose Fulbright has offices in more than 50 cities worldwide, including London, Houston, New York, Toronto, Mexico City, Hong Kong, Sydney and Johannesburg.

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Norton Rose names Andrew Robinson as its new Global Chair

Global law firm Norton Rose Fulbright today announced that Andrew Robinson has become its Global Chair, effective January 1, 2020.

Andrew is also the firm’s South African Chair and, until recently, the head of its Cape Town office. He has practiced transport law for more than 30 years and has a diverse practice which encompasses both the commercial and litigation aspects of transport and logistics, including: shipping, rail, claims recovery, admiralty, marine insurance, charterparty, oil and gas, international trade, maritime casualty response, subrogated recoveries and marine environmental law. In that time, he has been involved in some of the largest and most complex shipping litigation matters on behalf of both local and foreign clients.

The Global Chair position is for a period of one year. Andrew takes over from Walied Soliman, whose term as Global Chair expired by rotation on December 31, 2019. Walied continues as Chair of Norton Rose Fulbright in Canada.

Peter Martyr, Norton Rose Fulbright’s Global Chief Executive, said: “The appointment of Andrew Robinson to the role of Global Chair for Norton Rose Fulbright demonstrates the importance of our African business to the development of the global firm.

In addition, Andrew is an internationally recognised leader in shipping and marine insurance, and this experience will be invaluable as we look to grow our transport practice this year.

I would like to thank Andrew’s predecessor, Walied Soliman, for his contribution to the firm during his year as Global Chair.”

Andrew Robinson, Norton Rose Fulbright’s Global Chair, said: “I am honoured to be appointed to the Global Chair role. The firm has ambitious and exciting plans for this year, and I look forward to playing an active role in the delivery of these.”