29 Apr 2021

Herbert Smith Freehills' Australia arbitration head selects Singapore for solo practice

Brenda Horrigan moves for 'personal and professional reasons' after helping to grow Australia's reputation for arbitration

Herbert Smith Freehills’ head of international arbitration in Australia, Brenda Horrigan, is to leave the firm to set up practice as an independent arbitrator in Singapore. 

Horrigan said she had enjoyed “a wonderful experience” at HSF, but was moving for personal and professional reasons and looked forward to developing her career at her new home.

She told The Global Legal Post: “Singapore offers an opportunity to reconnect with arbitration colleagues from across the Asia-Pacific region with the opening of travel bubbles, as well as world-class arbitration facilities. I very much look forward to working with practitioners from across the region on matters going forward.”

She joined HSF as a partner in Shanghai in 2012 from Dentons legacy firm Salans and headed the Shanghai office from 2014-2016, before relocating to Sydney.  Her international credentials span Paris, Moscow and Washington DC, first with Steptoe & Johnson, and then Salans, while she has acted as counsel and arbitrator for all the major recognised arbitral institutes.

The current president of the Australian Centre for International Commercial Arbitration (ACICA), she has actively promoted Australia as a jurisdiction of choice for international arbitration, including publishing its first-ever nationwide arbitration survey, and liaising with the judiciary and practitioners.

Singapore has invested in hybrid and physical facilities for arbitrators, with the Singapore International Arbitration Centre experiencing increased filings and hearings.

 Alastair Henderson, HSF’s Singapore managing partner and a fellow disputes partner, said: “As a thriving centre for arbitration, Singapore is an excellent choice for a world-class arbitrator like Brenda. It remains a top-four arbitral seat of choice for businesses around the world with significant governmental, professional and academic support for future development”.

HSF’s global head of international arbitration, Paula Hodges QC, credited Horrigan with “raising the profile of international arbitration across the region and Australia’s standing as a centre for arbitration”, adding: “Since Brenda’s arrival in Australia, the practice has grown in size and depth – [with] specialist partners in all four Australian offices working hand in glove with our arbitration team in Asia.”  

The firm’s Asia disputes head, Simon Chapman, added: “We very much look forward to having her join the ranks of strong female arbitrators in the region.”

Horrigan joins prominent arbitration specialists Twenty Essex’s Judith Gill QC, once of Allen & Overy, former HKIAC secretary-general Chiann Bao and Duxton Hill Chambers’ Toby Landau QC in Singapore.

Last month, Fenwick Elliott’s former Dubai managing partner, Ahmed Ibrahim, left the firm to become a full-time arbitrator and take advantage of arbitration’s regional growth.