Anthony has an LLB, and a BA in political science, from Canterbury University, New Zealand; and an LLM and a PhD from Cambridge University, UK. He is admitted to practise in New Zealand (1999), and England and Wales (2006). Anthony has 20 years’ experience in dispute resolution, specialising in international commercial and investment treaty arbitration, and public international law. He advises in the oil and gas, energy and mining, telecoms, infrastructure and utilities sectors, among others, especially in emerging markets.
WHAT MOTIVATED YOU TO PURSUE A CAREER IN ARBITRATION?
I was especially attracted to the intersection of politics and law that I saw in many of the seminal disputes of the late 19th century, and first part of the 20th century, which I studied and discussed in my academic work. And being from New Zealand, I share with my fellow Kiwis a desire to travel and explore the world, and engage with and learn from people everywhere.
WHAT DID YOU FIND MOST CHALLENGING AT FIRST ABOUT WORKING AS AN ARBITRATOR?
The role of sole arbitrator I found to be a challenge over and above participating in a three-member panel, whether as co-arbitrator or chair. The sole arbitrator must both generate and test reasons for a decision, and it can be an isolating experience. The contributions of excellent counsel, of course, help enormously.
WHAT TYPES OF MATTERS ARE KEEPING YOU BUSIEST AT THE MOMENT?
I am working on a range of disputes, especially in Africa, Eastern Europe and Central Asia. The recurring themes are long-term state contract or concession disputes; and disputes with regulators or governmental agencies in the natural resource and utilities sectors, frequently involving conflicts between local law, contractually chosen law and international law protections. I am also involved in a number of commercial disputes in developing economies.
YOU WORK ACROSS A RANGE OF SECTORS. TO WHAT EXTENT DOES PREVIOUS EXPERIENCE IN A SECTOR HELP WITH THE NEXT DISPUTE IN THAT AREA?
It helps immensely. In my experience clients look for it in their counsel. Clients value lawyers who are not only advocates and legal technicians, but also who have commercial acumen and know their business. And industry experience helps counsel more quickly to understand and test the evidence of witnesses and experts and to appreciate the significance of particular facts.
THERE IS ONGOING DISCUSSION ABOUT UPDATES TO THE ICSID RULES. WHAT REFORMS DO YOU THINK ARE NEEDED TO ADDRESS CONCERNS ABOUT THE ACCEPTABILITY AND EFFICIENCY OF THE PROCESS?
One change that would address some of the delays unique to ICSID arbitration is to streamline the process and timetable for the constitution of tribunals. Rule 2(3)), that a party may only trigger the default process for appointment of arbitrators in article 37(2)(b) of the Convention once 60 days have elapsed from a proposal of the number of arbitrators and method of their appointment, is an anachronism that needlessly draws out the constitution of tribunals in ICSID cases. A default procedure, unless the parties have agreed on another method in their instrument of consent, would have ICSID tribunals constituted much quicker than they are today.
LOOKING AHEAD, HOW ATTRACTIVE DO YOU EXPECT LONDON TO REMAIN AS A LOCATION FOR DISPUTES SETTLEMENT?
The attraction of London as a venue for dispute settlement is primarily driven by centuries of refinement of English law, and the quality of lawyers living and practising in London. As long as London, as a city with global appeal, continues to attract and retain excellent lawyers, clients will come to them with their most intractable or important legal issues.
WHAT IS YOUR PROUDEST ACHIEVEMENT TO DATE?
In the professional context, a recent victory that pleases me was for DP World, a port operator partly owned by the Dubai government. The president of Djibouti had issued a decree purporting to terminate DP World’s English law-governed concession agreement for the construction and operation of a container terminal in the country. The arbitral tribunal agreed with us that the president’s decree, attempting to terminate a long-term concession agreement governed by English law, was incapable of affecting an English-law contract. We obtained a declaration that the concession agreement was valid and binding.
I am proud to have represented many clients, including both corporates and sovereign states, on repeat occasions, and in some cases over more than a decade. I work hard to earn and retain the trust and confidence clients place in me.
Anthony Sinclair draws praise as “a bedrock of the London arbitration community”. He comes highly regarded as “a charming and efficient practitioner, who gets directly to the point and always gets it right”.
Dr Anthony Sinclair qualified as a barrister and solicitor in New Zealand in 1999 and as an English solicitor in 2006. He specialises in international commercial arbitration, investment treaty arbitration and public international law. His work spans a range of industry sectors, with particular focus on the oil and gas, energy and mining, telecommunications, infrastructure and utilities sectors, especially in emerging markets, as counsel and arbitrator.
His experience includes handling disputes under ICC, LCIA, ICSID and UNCITRAL arbitration rules arising out of concession agreements, licences, production sharing and operating agreements, joint ventures, EPC and other construction agreements, host government and intergovernmental agreements, management and service agreements, distributorships, finance agreements and post-M&A matters. Anthony also has extensive experience as counsel for both investors and states handling disputes under bilateral investment treaties (BITs) and the Energy Charter Treaty (ECT), and in several ICSID annulment proceedings. He has advised states on the negotiation and drafting of treaties, headquarters agreements and intergovernmental agreements.
Anthony is co-author of the second edition of The ICSID Convention: A Commentary (CUP, 2009), and is widely published in the fields of international investment law and arbitration. He has a PhD in law from the University of Cambridge. Anthony is the winner of OGEMID’s Article of the Year, 2010, and the Smit-Lowenfeld Prize awarded by the International Arbitration Club of New York for the best article (co-authored with Aloysius Llamzon) published in the field of international arbitration in 2015.