Arbitration Chambers welcomes big names in London and New York

Former IBA president and former co-chair of Skadden Arps’ international arbitration group among four legal veterans joining Hong Kong-based set

Karyl Nairn KC

A quartet of eminent arbitrators from different parts of the world has joined Arbitration Chambers in New York and London. 

Former International Bar Association (IBA) president David W Rivkin has joined the set, after retiring from Debevoise & Plimpton last year, alongside Karyl Nairn KC, who previously led the international arbitration group at Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom. Also joining are former Baker McKenzie partner Eduardo Zuleta and Turkish arbitrator Utku Coşar. 

The move brings the set’s headcount to 23 and is the largest single slate of arbitrator arrivals since the Hong Kong-based enterprise opened in London in 2017.

Rivkin retired from Debevoise’s New York office last December after more than 40 years at the firm, more than 20 of which he spent as co-chair of the firm's international dispute resolution group alongside fellow arbitration lawyer Donald Donovan.

Upon stepping down as co-chairs in 2021 both men were praised for their “strong and strategic leadership, spearheading [Debevoise’s] evolution into one of the world’s most formidable groups of practitioners”, by then presiding partner Michael Blair. 

Rivkin served as president of the IBA from 2015-2016, the first American to serve in the post for 25 years, and currently co-chairs the Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre alongside former Hong Kong justice secretary Rimsky Yuen SC. 

Rivkin’s move to Arbitration Chambers in New York will reunite him with Donovan, who himself joined the set last September after retiring from Debevoise, and see him join fellow arbitrators Jean Kalicki, Lucy Reed and Michael Nolan. He will practice solely as an arbitrator, focusing on complex commercial disputes and investment treaty claims, particularly energy, pharma, finance and technology disputes. 

Meanwhile, London-based Nairn, appointed as silk in 2013, served as co-chair of Skadden’s global litigation and arbitration group before retiring from the firm in 2022. She is no less active than Rivkin in the arbitration scene while also holding a leadership role at JUSTICE, the rule of law charity. 

Having earlier served on the ICC International Court of Arbitration, which celebrated its centenary recently, including as vice president, for 16 years, she currently holds a similar role on the LCIA Court. At Arbitration Chambers Nairn will practice as an arbitrator in commercial and investment treaty cases across the finance and banking, energy, mining, pharma and telecoms sectors, among others. 

Nairn also began a six-year term as a High Court judge last month. Her former colleague, David Kavanagh KC, told this title: “Karyl has had a trailblazing career at Skadden, and this is a continuation of that journey.”

He added: “It’s wonderful to see someone from the international arbitration community going to the bench and bringing those skills and experience to the High Court. It strengthens London’s position as the world’s leading arbitration centre.”

Zuleta joins from name firm Zuleta Abogados Associados, having concluded his practice as counsel twenty years after establishing the firm on leaving Baker McKenzie. 

Zuleta, like Rivkin, is active in the IBA’s influential Arbitration Committee and like Nairn is known for his work as a former vice president of the ICC. He is a leading South American arbitrator with expertise in construction, oil and gas, infrastructure and broader complex commercial disputes, as well as investor-state arbitrations. At Arbitration Chambers he will split his time between the US and Columbia. 

Finally, Coşar has left four-partner Turkish firm Coşar Avukatlık Bürosu, where she was managing partner, to practice as a full-time arbitrator in Istanbul and New York. Like Rivkin and Zuleta, she has credentials with the IBA and brings expertise in energy, infrastructure and mining disputes as well as those relating to M&A, banking and finance and international investments. 

Arbitration Chambers head Gavin Denton welcomed the arrivals, saying that the set was committed to achieving increased diversity in all forms alongside offering excellence in arbitration. 

”With the addition of David, Karyl, Eduardo and Utku, we achieve all these goals and more,” he said.

Former Stewarts partner, Philippa Charles, also left counsel practice to join Twenty Essex as an arbitrator last month, while Ania Farren left Omnia Strategy to join Fieldfisher as a partner as the firm looks to build on an ongoing project to establish a leading international practice.

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