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Arbitration heavyweights – Freshfields group head Partasides and Paris partner Petrochilos resign to form boutique

Breakaway arbitration boutiques are increasingly common but they rarely have the gravitas of the latest entrant, as Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer’s London arbitration group head Constantine Partasides resigns alongside Paris-based partner Georgias Petrochilos, to form a heavyweight trio alongside former co-arbitration chair Jan Paulsson.

Dispute resolution partner Partasides spent 10 years practising in the Magic Circle firm’s Paris office before returning to the UK in 2007 to head up the top-tier arbitration team.The Legal 500 describes him as ‘quick to master complex subjects’ and recent arbitrations he has led include advising a telecoms operator in a treaty claim regarding an expropriation of a multi-billion dollar business in North Africa.

Petrochilos, along with Paulsson, has served as adviser to international trade regulatory body The United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (Uncitral) in connection with the revision of the Uncitral arbitration rules, and he now represents Greece as a delegate to Uncitral.

Meanwhile, Paulsson retired last year from the 2,332-lawyer firm, having joined in 1988 and had been head of its international arbitration group for 20 years. As president of the London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA), Paulsson helped Dubai develop its own arbitration centre in 2008.

The breakaway boutique follows recent examples including former Shearman & Sterling colleagues Christophe Dugue and William Kirtley, who late last year formed Dugue & Kirtley; and Hogan Lovells partner Jean-Georges Betto, who along with White & Case’s Christophe Seraglini, formed Betto Seraglini in November 2012.

Lucy Reed, Freshfields’ head of the international arbitration group, said: ‘We can confirm that partners Constantine Partasides and Georgios Petrochilos have decided to leave the firm and start an independent arbitration practice. As valued friends and colleagues we will be sorry to see them leave and we thank them for their contribution to the development of Freshfields’ world-leading arbitration practice. We wish them well in their new endeavour.’