Sydney next stop for international arbitration gun

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Herbert Smith Freehills is responding to the growing need for international arbitration, as companies become increasingly engaged in cross-border transactions, by establishing a centre for excellence for international arbitration.

“Of the top two thousand Australian companies, on average they hold investments in four to five different jurisdictions outside of Australia and a good 85% of those are looking to increase their geographic footprint,” partner Brenda Horrigan told Australasian Lawyer.

The firm announced yesterday that Horrigan, a dedicated arbitration partner, will be moving from Shanghai to the firm’s Sydney office for the centre’s launch.

The Herbert Smith Freehills arbitration practice is the third busiest globally, with practitioners based all throughout Asia and in various Australian offices.  But Horrigan, who has worked in arbitration in a number of emerging markets including China and Russia, said her move to Australia is an attempt to consolidate her experience into a standalone practice area.

“Investing in emerging markets carries unique opportunities and challenges and by integrating the Australian arbitration practice together with the arbitration practice throughout the world, we bring a lot of knowledge and experience about those jurisdictions to the Australian clients,” she said.

“It is distinct from domestic litigation and so the aim really will be to take Australia and plug it into what is already our market leading practice.”

The firm’s regional dispute head Luke Hastings said Horrigan’s move is key in connecting arbitration in Australia with the rest of the globe.

“Fluent in four languages and with strong connections and contacts in Russia, Asia, Europe and New York, Brenda's advice is highly sought after by our top clients around the globe,” he said.

“In particular, she will be able to use her knowledge of the firm’s global network and her experience across jurisdictions to provide an enhanced international arbitration service to Australian clients.”