22 Jun 2022

Crowell & Moring adds veteran disputes partner in Brussels from Allen & Overy

Werner Eyskens moves over as US firms continue run of partner laterals from UK rivals in Belgian capital

Werner Eyskens Image courtesy of Crowell & Moring

Crowell and Moring has added a veteran disputes partner in Brussels from Allen & Overy (A&O), marking the latest instance of a US firm adding a partner from a UK rival in the Belgian capital. 

Werner Eyskens brings nearly three decades of experience handling multinational arbitrations and international commercial litigation to his new firm. He spent more than 20 years as a partner at A&O, having previously qualified and worked at legacy Loeff Claeys Verbeke – now Loyens & Loeff.

Eyskens’ tenure at A&O in Brussels overlapped with senior partner Wim Dejonge’s time as managing partner of the Belgian offices prior to his elevation to global managing partner in 2008 and senior partner in 2020. Both men also worked together at Loyens before moving in 2001. 

“We are thrilled to welcome Werner,” said Kristof Roux, co-managing partner of Crowell’s Brussels office. “He is an extremely effective advocate, cross-examiner and a go-to lawyer for complex national and cross-border disputes.” 

As a lynchpin of A&O’s disputes team, Eyskens led arbitration and litigation in the construction, infrastructure, maritime, transport, and logistics sectors. That sectoral focus drew Crowell to him, as Ian Laird, who co-chairs Crowell’s disputes group, noted.

“A strategic priority of our firm is to expand our infrastructure and construction disputes practice,” Laird said. “Werner’s experience across a wide range of sectors complements our existing work in London and Doha and deepens [our] international reach.” 

Eyskens similarly pointed to the alignment of Crowell’s infrastructure and construction disputes practice with his own and cited the firm’s “fully integrated arbitration team and reputed Brussels office with strong litigation practices” as drivers for the move.

As well as being active in the Belgian courts at all levels, Eyskens has championed the work of CEPANI, the Belgian Centre for Arbitration and Mediation, as a board member, counsel and arbitrator. Fluent in English, Flemish and French, he has also managed the disputes outturn from numerous insolvencies in the Belgian aviation industry. 

Highlights include acting in the bankruptcy of national flag carrier Sabena, which led to a €3bn claim brought against successor SAirGroup by the Belgian state and others; his logistics and shipping expertise is equally vital.

His international practice for Belgian corporates overseas has seen him appear in the ICC Court of Arbitration in Paris, London’s LCIA and the Singapore International Arbitration Centre. 

Crowell would also have been attracted by Eysken’s investor-state arbitration experience, Eysken having appeared before the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes in Washington DC; the US firm is known for such work. 

Laurence Winston, Laird’s colleague as co-chair, said he anticipated Eyskens would work closely with the firm’s London office on arbitration disputes subject to English law.

“We are thrilled to welcome Werner. He is an extremely effective advocate, cross-examiner, and a go-to lawyer for complex national and cross-border disputes,” said Brussels IP partner Kristof Roux, co-managing partner. 

Crowell is no stranger to Brussels. The city has been a central part of the firm’s desire to grow its European practice in line with the growth of its business globally. Eysken’s arrival will accentuate work for clients in the Benelux countries and across Europe, with the balance of other work being referred from Crowell’s UK and US offices, alongside its Middle Eastern ones.

His move forms part of a trend for US firms to hire from established UK firms in the EU capital, among them K&L Gates, which last week secured antitrust partner Nikolaos Peristerakis in the city from Linklaters. 

Peristerakis' departure marked the third Brussels-based lawyer Linklaters has lost to a US firm this year. Jonas Koponen, head of Linklaters’ antitrust and foreign investment group, left for Cooley in March, the same month that competition partner Isabel Rooms joined Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton

Eyskens’ departure from A&O follows news last week that Suzanne Spears, co-head of the firm’s global business and human rights team, and a partner in its international arbitration practice, had left to set up her own London boutique focusing on business and human rights law. 

A spokesperson for Allen & Overy commented: “Suzanne Spears has left Allen & Overy. We’d like to thank her for her contribution and wish her well for the future.”

A&O declined to comment on Eysken’s exit. 

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