Legal Business Blogs

Ashurst hires DLA Piper arbitration head Saunders to boost City practice

After a slow churn of lateral partner hires in Ashurst‘s London office, the Anglo-Australian firm has kick-started 2016 by recruiting DLA Piper‘s high-profile international arbitration head Matthew Saunders.

Saunders resigned from DLA Piper this week after 15 years at the firm, and is replaced by Paris-based Michael Ostrove, who will become global head of international arbitration.

He will join Ashurst’s 15-partner disputes team in the City, which includes the well-regarded international arbitration head Ronnie King.

His arrival gives the firm’s arbitration practice a serious boost, particularly its London-based offering, which aside from King has only two other partners covering arbitration as part of their wider practice.

Ashurst global head of dispute resolution Simon Bromwich said: ‘We have ambitious plans to grow our international arbitration practice in priority sectors and regions for the firm and Matthew’s appointment is a further step in pursuit of that strategy. We are continuing to see a high number of disputes arising from, for example, major infrastructure projects and Matthew’s knowledge and expertise will help us to capitalise further on that.’

Saunders joined DLA Piper as a partner in 2001 and helped found the arbitration practice. Before that he worked at Stephenson Harwood where he trained and qualified in 1991 and became a partner in 1998.

Saunders’ practice focuses on international projects, including proceedings under bilateral investment treaties. He has experience advising sovereign and federal governments, international energy businesses, multinational corporations and financial institutions, and has worked in Russia and the CIS, Africa and central Asia advising both investors and governments on investment protection frameworks.

Recent mandates include acting for Gazprom in SCC arbitrations with claims in excess of $23bn relating to the supply and pricing of gas from Gazprom to Ukrainian state-owned enterprise Naftogaz; and advising the government of Kyrgyzstan on arbitration strategies in relation to OJSC Kyrgyzaltyn.

Saunders commented: ‘Given the strength of the firm’s existing capability, both in international arbitration and in key sectors for arbitration such as energy and mining, there is an ideal platform on which I look forward to helping strengthen Ashurst’s client offering.’

Having lost a string of London-based corporate stars in the last two years, Ashurst made efforts to enhance its offering with the hire of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom’s former global private equity co-head Shaun Lascelles, in August last year.