International Arbitration Lawyer & Arbitrator
Partner, Aceris Law
William Kirtley, co-founder, International Arbitration Attorney Network
A Franco-American Harvard, Columbia and Sorbonne-trained partner at Aceris Law, based in Geneva and Paris, William has over a decade of experience focusing on international arbitration (commercial and investment), mediation, and other forms of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) as an international arbitration lawyer and arbitrator, working primarily in English and French, but also on cases with significant Arabic, Russian, Turkish and Spanish elements. He is admitted to the New York and Washington Bars and was previously a French avocat à la cour.
Named as the “Best of the Best” in 2014, as well as one of the “Ones to Watch” in 2015, recognized by Décideurs in 2014, 2015 and 2016 and nominated for Who’s Who, clients call him a “great lawyer” who is “smart,” “reliable, dynamic, loyal and committed,” “fair and transparent,” and who “will seek 100% to guard the interests of his client.” They also call him “hard-working and highly responsive” with “depth of knowledge and experience in international dispute resolution” and “great integrity.” They also cite his “excellent understanding of international arbitration case law and strategy” while noting that he “does not bill an arm and a leg for his services,” and he “never gives up” in order to make his clients’ cases “go from success to success.”
He has a diverse international clientele, ranging from individuals, to small- and medium-sized enterprises, to large multinationals and States and State entities, serving as counsel for claimants and respondents of dozens of different nationalities. He advises his clients on institutional arbitral proceedings (including ICC, ICSID, SCC, LCIA, JAMS, CICA, CIArb, PCA, SIAC, DIAC and AFA), as well as ad hoc proceedings (primarily UNCITRAL) under common law, civil law and hybrid legal regimes, while also serving as counsel on pure public international law matters. He has served as arbitrator under a variety of rules, including those of the ICC and the DIAC.
He has also served as an expert for the World Bank with respect to civil procedure reform in the developing world, previously served as legal counsel at various branches of the United Nations (UNDPA, UNHCR, UNICTR) and practiced law at the international arbitration practice groups of D&K AARPI, Shearman & Sterling, Dentons and Lazareff Le Bars, following two-years of working in the Ivory Coast as an American Peace Corps Volunteer.
He has authored numerous articles in leading journals such as Kluwer’s Journal of International Arbitration and the ICSID Review, is a member of the International Arbitration Institute, regularly speaks on international dispute resolution topics, taught at the University of Paris X and is a co-founder of the International Arbitration Attorney Network.
Aceris LLC – Partner (9/15-present)
Partner at the boutique arbitration firm Aceris Law LLC, based in Geneva and Paris, which is ranked among the best international arbitration law firms by Décideurs. Serving as lead counsel in investor-State disputes involving States in Western Europe, Eastern Europe, Asia, Central America and Africa, Mr. Kirtley also serves as lead counsel with respect to commercial and construction arbitrations under the ICC, DIAC, OHADA, JAMS, UNCITRAL and other rules, and he has served as arbitrator in multiple cases while at Aceris. He also serves as lead counsel for the Barotseland National Freedom Alliance, an umbrella organization of activists seeking the independence of the former British protectorate of Barotseland from Zambia and has lectured on international arbitration at Paris II – Assas-Panthéon.
Dugué & Kirtley AARPI – Partner (9/13-9/15)
Partner at the boutique arbitration firm Dugué & Kirtley AARPI, founded with Christophe Dugué, a former partner at Shearman & Sterling, in 2013, which was highly-ranked by Décideurs in 2014 and 2015. Served as lead counsel and arbitrator in a number of investor-State disputes and commercial arbitrations, under the ICC, ICSID, SIAC, DIAC, PCA and UNCITRAL rules, prior to creating Aceris.
Lazareff Le Bars – Of Counsel (4/12-9/13)
Counsel at Lazareff Le Bars, a Parisian arbitration boutique was founded by the well-known French arbitrator, Serge Lazareff. Served as co-lead counsel in a variety of disputes, such as the first reported investment treaty arbitration against Belarus and an UNCITRAL dispute with a United Nations agency. Counsel in ICC, ICSID, CCJA and UNCITRAL international arbitrations in multilingual (primarily English, French, Spanish and Russian) disputes involving the energy, construction, consulting, pharmaceutical, aerospace and defence, banking and finance, shipping and transport, telecommunications, agricultural and steel industries. Served clients ranging from individual investors to major multinational corporations in disputes under a variety of common law and civil law legal regimes, including English, French, Moroccan, Italian, Swiss, Equatorial Guinean, German, Malian, Romanian, Burkina Faso, Byelorussian, Belgian, Swiss, Illinois and private and public international law. In addition, a prolific writer and speaker on modern international arbitration issues, ranging from the impact of the new ICC Rules, to multi-party and multi-contract disputes, to third-party funding, fast-track arbitration, and emergency arbitrators, with speeches in France and the UK and articles regularly published in leading law journals such as the ICSID Review and the Journal of International Arbitration.
Dentons (formerly Salans) – Senior Associate (2/07-4/12)
Served as counsel at law firm ranked, at the time, as the European Law Firm of the Year in 2010, the French Law Firm of the Year the same year, and which was consistently one of the top-ranked firms in Russia and the CIS. Notable public cases included Rumeli Telekom A.S. and Telsim Mobil Telekomunikasyon Hizmetleri A.S. v. Republic of Kazakhstan, ICSID Case No. ARB/05/16, Joseph Charles Lemire v. Ukraine, ICSID Case No. ARB/06/18 and The Rompetrol Group N.V. v. Romania, ICSID Case No. ARB/06/3. Counsel in ICSID and UNCITRAL investment treaty arbitrations, ICC, AFA, CICA and other commercial, construction and investment arbitrations, as well as international litigations. Representative work includes claim against Poland involving the expropriation of intellectual property rights, an ad hoc arbitration concerning an airplane lease agreement with an Angolan company, an ICC arbitration against an African State concerning a customs agency, an ICC arbitration regarding the construction of a sulfuric acid plant in Turkey, and an ICC arbitration concerning the breach of a shareholders’ agreement involving the automotive logistics industry. Served as counsel in disputes involving Kazakh, Turkish, Ukrainian, Maltese, English, Iranian, Polish, Romanian, French, U.S., and private and public international law.
Shearman & Sterling – Associate (9/04–2/07)
Practiced U.S. litigation and project development and finance in New York prior to joining Shearman & Sterling’s Global Dispute Resolution Practice, classified by Chambers Global as “world-renowned” and the winner of the “Best International Arbitration Practice” in France for many years. Christophe Dugué, co-founder of Dugué & Kirtley, was a partner there are the time. Served as counsel in the initiation of the long-running Hulley Enterprises Ltd. (Cyprus) v. Russian Federation UNCITRAL arbitration, the largest international arbitration to date, as well as UNCITRAL arbitrations involving the energy industry, ICC international construction disputes, an ad hoc dispute concerning a Chinese search engine, an ICC dispute concerning a joint venture for the development of gas turbines, an LCIA shipping dispute, a mining dispute concerning New Caledonia, a pre-arbitral referee proceeding, and various other international disputes involving French, English, Algerian, Russian, Chinese, Canadian and Australian law.
United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda – Legal Consultant (8/03–10/03)
Legal Consultant for Prosecutor’s Office. Based in unit prosecuting military commanders allegedly responsible for Rwandan genocide (Military I Unit), focusing on the prosecution of the case against Colonel Bagosora and two other senior Rwandan army officers, who were ultimately found guilty of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes and sentenced to life imprisonment.
United Nations Department of Political Affairs – U.N. Consultant (1/02-5/02)
Drafted the Repertoire of the Practice of the Security Council, mandated by the General Assembly in 1952, which contains a constitutional and procedural guide to the proceedings of the Security Council.
American Peace Corps (Ivory Coast) – Urban Environmental Management PCV (1/98-3/00)
Worked in the Prefecture of M’bahiakro in the Ivory Coast for 27 month on behalf of the American Peace Corps, a U.S. State Department program created by President Kennedy. Implemented numerous engineering projects in partnership with the U.S. Embassy, the French Embassy, UNAIDS and regional and municipal governments concerning urban renewal, waste management, infrastructure and irrigation systems, working in partnership with Ivorian public entities.
PUBLICATIONS & PRESENTATIONS (SELECTION)
• “The Future of International Arbitration,” lecture at University of Paris II Panthéon-Assas (October 2015).
• Oxfirst webinar on intellectual property arbitration law and the enforcement of IP rights internationally (May 2014).
• “4th Funding International Arbitration London Panel Debate, panelist in conference sponsored by TheJudge (June 2013)
• “Should an Arbitral Tribunal Order Security for Costs When an Impecunious Claimant is Relying upon Third Party Funding?”, published in Kluwer’s Journal of International Arbitration (February 2013).
• “Arbitrating in West and Central Africa: An Introduction to OHADA,” published in the Kluwer Arbitration Blog (February 2013).
• “Complex arbitrations: multi-party and multi-contract disputes under the new ICC Rules,” presentation given at LLB Breakfast Seminar (November 2012).
• “International Arbitration: France 2012,” published in International Comparative Legal Guides (July 2012).
• “La gestion des contentieux en Afrique : Enjeux et Stratégies,” published in MEDEF : C’est à vous (August 2012).
• “Court-Ordered Discovery in the United States Under 28 USC § 1782 for Use in Foreign International Arbitrations: Its Evolution, Current Trends, Strategic Use and Dangers,” published in the International Arbitration Law Review (Vol. 2, June 2011).
• “The Transfer of Treaty Claims and Treaty-Shopping in Investor-State Disputes,” published in The Journal of World Investment and Trade (Vol. 10, No. 3, June 2009).
• “Bringing Claims and Enforcing International Arbitration Awards Against Sub-Saharan African States and Parties,” published in The Law and Practice of International Courts and Tribunals (Vol. 8, No. 1, May 2009).
• “The Meaning of AIDS in Ordinary African Communities” (eBook, 2003).
• “The Tampa Incident: Does Australia’s Political Asylum Policy Violate International Law?”, published in the Columbia Journal of Transnational Law (Vol. 41, 2002).
RECENT INTERNATIONAL ARBITRATION EXPERIENCE
• Lead counsel in ICC construction arbitration against South Korean General Contractor
• Co-lead counsel for Central European State in ICC construction arbitration
• Lead counsel in ICC construction arbitration concerning EPC contract in the Middle East in the glass industry
• Co-lead counsel in ICC arbitration against Chinese pipe manufacturer
• Lead counsel in ad hoc international arbitration under OHADA law concerning the coffee and cocoa industry for French client
• Lead counsel in investment treaty arbitration against Northern European State brought by Russian citizen
• Lead counsel in investment treaty arbitration against East Asian State concerning the expropriation of a joint venture’s land
• Lead counsel in investment treaty arbitration against Swaziland for the expropriation of a mine
• Lead counsel for the revision of an arbitral award on the grounds of fraud for Russian company and related court proceedings
• Lead counsel in investment treaty arbitration against Belarus concerning the expropriation of a steel tubing factory in Gomel and the imprisonment of a foreign investor for six years in a Byelorussian prison camp
• Sole Arbitrator in an ICC arbitration involving Asian and Middle Eastern Parties
• Co-counsel in ICSID arbitration against Turkmenistan with other members of the IAA Network
• Co-counsel in SIAC arbitration against large internet advertising company with other members of the IAA Network
• Sole Arbitrator in four DIAC disputes involving a real estate project in Dubai
• Lead counsel to Barotseland, a Germany-sized former British protectorate seeking formal independence from Zambia
• Lead counsel in SIAC arbitration on behalf of multiple Claimants against a large American-based internet company concerning internet advertising
• Co-counsel in an ICC dispute with related court measures on behalf of a Spanish company against two European businesses concerning an alternative investment fund
• Counsel in ICC arbitration concerning the breach of a sales and purchase agreement between a Russian company and a Belgian agricultural equipment manufacturer
• Litigation concerning the enforcement of an arbitral award in the United States on behalf of a French company
• Co-counsel for arbitration-related interim measures sought on behalf of a Spanish company before French courts
• Counsel with respect to an international arbitration against an Iraqi State entity
• Counsel for Respondents in ICC arbitration concerning the construction and development of a large shopping center in Romania by a joint venture composed of a Northern Irish company and a Lebanese company
• Mediation followed by ICC proceedings involving the ownership and licensing terms of patents to chemical compounds between an American company and a French company
• Counsel in French litigation concerning the annulment of an arbitration award rendered in North Africa
• Counsel for Claimant in ICC proceedings concerning alleged breach of agency agreement between a Northern Irish company and a Swiss engineering company
• Counsel for French contractor in Romanian Court of International Commercial Arbitration dispute concerning the construction of a luxury residential housing project in Romania by a major French contractor
• Counsel for a Dutch company in ICSID proceedings brought against Romania concerning the oil-refining sector
• ICC arbitration against African State on behalf of Claimant concerning the modernization of its customs agency
• Litigation involving the alleged expropriation of patent rights between the United States Government and an Emirati company
• UNCITRAL investment treaty arbitration between Poland and a major French company involved the pharmaceutical industry concerning a dispute over the licensing of generics
• ICSID proceedings on behalf of foreign investor against Tunisia concerning the acquisition of shares in Tunisia’s banking sector
• Dispute concerning the sale and purchase of gas turbines being sold by a European company to India
• AFA arbitration concerning a dispute over a financial services agreement
• Dispute between European contractor and a Rwandese company concerning a construction project under Rwandese law
• Counsel for American Claimant in ICSID arbitration brought against Ukraine concerning the media industry and the acquisition of broadcast licenses
• Counsel for Respondent in ICC construction arbitration concerning a turnkey contract for the development of a sulfuric acid plant in Turkey
• ICC proceedings on behalf of Claimant involving a dispute over a joint-venture to develop an advanced gas turbine between French, Swedish and British equipment manufacturers
• ICC ADR proceedings between a French company and an African State involving a joint-venture in the telecommunications industry
• Counsel in settlement negotiations between a Swiss company and a United Nations agency concerning the provision of consulting services
• ICC construction arbitration on behalf of European sub-contractor concerning the construction of the BTC Pipeline
• ICC proceedings on behalf of a French company concerning multiple contracts entered into with a West African company
• Counsel for international organization intervening as amicus curiae in ICJ dispute concerning the extradition of a former African dictator from Senegal to Belgium
• Counsel for Iranian oil and gas equipment distributor in an ICC arbitration against an American equipment manufacturer concerning a sales and purchase agreement
• Investment treaty arbitration on behalf of Gibraltar-based Claimant against Russia involving the oil and gas sector
• Counsel for Claimant in ICSID proceedings between Kazakhstan and Turkish investors involving the expropriation of a telecommunications company
• UNCITRAL shipping dispute between an Algerian oil and gas producer and an American liquid natural gas regasification terminal
• Counsel for Australian and Canadian Respondents in ICC dispute with Russian mining company involving a nickel mining concession in New Caledonia
Attorney, New York
Avocat, Barreau de Paris
Attorney, Washington, D.C.
• External Legal Counsel (AILA)
• List of Arbitrators of USCIB (ICC National Committee for the United States)
• ICC France (ICC National Committee for France)
• Member of Expatriate Subcommittee of USCIB (ICC National Committee for the United States)
• ICDR Young & International Arbitration Group
• List of Arbitrators (DIAC)
• Swiss Arbitration Association (ASA) Below 40
• Co-founder of International Arbitration Attorney Network
• International Bar Association
• AFIA (Australian Forum for International Arbitration)
• Advisor to Young ICCA
• Editor of Vindobona Journal of International Commercial Law
EDUCATION & TEACHING
Columbia University School of Law, J.D. (2004)
•Dorsey & Whitney Prize
•Tony Patiño Fellowship
The Sorbonne (Paris I – Panthéon-Sorbonne), Maîtrise en Droit with honors (2004)
• Degree awarded with honors (mention)
Harvard University, B.A. with high honors (1997)
• Degree awarded with high honors (magna cum laude)
• Dean’s list all semesters
• Magna cum laude thesis on science and the history of empiricism
University of Paris X (Nanterre School of Law), Lecturer on Anglo-American Business Law
Webinars on issues such as the use of international arbitration to resolve intellectual property disputes for Oxford-based entities and other institutions
• Arabic (proficient)
• Bambara (West African language, proficient)
• Baoulé (West African language, proficient)
• Firm Website: https://www.acerislaw.com
• International Arbitration Attorney Legal Network Website: https://www.international-arbitration-attorney.com/
• Linkedin Profile: https://linkedin.com/in/williamkirtley
• Facebook Page (IAA Network): https://facebook.com/pages/International-Arbitration-Attorney/325629674239954
• Google Plus: Google+ Profile
• Twitter: https://twitter.com/IAA_Network
G.M., CEO of Upeco Trading A.G.
“I highly recommend William Kirtley for international arbitration legal counsel. He is an excellent practitioner and a top-notch professional. He is highly reliable and will never give up on a client’s case. He is very experienced as legal counsel and a very good person as well. He can see all details which could be decisive in the arbitration. His goal is to bring meritorious cases to victory and he does the best of it. I recommend him as a professional and a person who never abandons a case halfway, no matter how hard a case can be.”
S. Arifagaoglu, in-house legal counsel at Global Investment Holding
“[William Kirtley is] smart, gives very good legal and tactical advice, is always responsive and has time to talk. He will do anything for his client to win a case, never gives up, and does not bill an arm and a leg for his services. He’s a great lawyer.”
R. Ghafele, Director at Oxfirst Ltd. & Fellow at Said Business School, University of Oxford
“[William Kirtley] did not count his time to assure our business went from success to success. As an attorney he is reliable, dynamic, loyal and committed. I can recommend William to any firm who is looking for an attorney who will seek 100% to guard the interests of his client.”
Google Representative (Paris, France)
“[William Kirtley] has an amazing ability to understand complex technological problems immediately and a significant amount of experience in the IT and mobile phone sectors. He is fair and transparent, and he is very easy to work with. It is without hesitation that I recommend William as counsel for the resolution of any IT dispute through mediation or arbitration.”
E. Chang, Principal, EZC Law Firm
“William is a technically very strong lawyer, with depth of knowledge and experience in international dispute resolution. Beyond this, William also has a strong entrepreneurial flair, sound business judgment and a keen understanding of dispute resolution from a commercial perspective. William also has a dual qualification which makes him unique in the legal market and gives him a special insight and ability to represent international clients in today’s increasingly complex, cross-border disputes. Last but not least, William has a positive, collegial attitude and it is always a pleasure to collaborate with him.”
World Bank Representative (Bangkok, Thailand)
“I have known [William Kirtley] for over a decade and have no qualms whatsoever highly recommending him as counsel in any international dispute, be it arbitration, mediation or other forms of ADR. William is smart, easy to work with, transparent, hard-working and highly responsive. He also has an excellent understanding of international arbitration case law and strategy, combining great breadth and depth in commercial and public international law law, and is an attorney of great integrity.”