Stewarts’ arbitration head joins Twenty Essex to become full-time arbitrator

Philippa Charles leaves specialist UK litigation firm after 10 years; interim department co-heads appointed

Stewarts’ head of arbitration, Philippa Charles, is joining London chambers Twenty Essex to become a full-time arbitrator.

Philippa Charles will take up her new role at Twenty Essex next month, ending a ten-year tenure at the highly profitable UK litigation-only law firm.

She is closing the door on counsel work having built up a formidable reputation leading teams in arbitration, related court proceedings, mediation and other forms of alternative dispute resolution. Her new role is a transition, rather than a beginning; Charles has sat in arbitrations as an arbitrator for many years. The move, however, will allow her to grow her practice by removing potential conflicts. 

Charles acknowledged the support of the arbitral community on LinkedIn, writing: ‘Many friends provided insight and encouragement when I was contemplating this change: I owe them a huge debt of gratitude, not least for their endless patience and cheerleading’.

It is an informed investment in a career that has seen her support women in arbitration at events across the UK and internationally, including her native Ireland, where she is an enthusiastic backer of Arbitration Ireland. 

Charles has significant experience sitting as arbitrator under ICC, LCIA, SIAC, SCC, AAA-ICDR, and FAI rules as chair, sole and party-appointee, as well as in ad hoc proceedings. She is also a member of the ICC Commission on Arbitration and ADR, as that body celebrates its centenary

Philip Edey KC and Charles Kimmins KC, co-heads of Twenty Essex, praised Charles’s “stellar career”, adding: “Philippa’s addition to our arbitrator stable enhances the set’s leading status in international arbitration as we continue to develop as a modern, thriving set for both arbitrators and arbitration counsel.”

Charles said: “Twenty Essex has an outstanding reputation in the field of international arbitration and beyond. After ten very happy years at Stewarts, it is both a delight and an honour to be able to join friends and colleagues in chambers and to focus exclusively on my practice as arbitrator.”

The set’s CEO, Jemma Tagg, said Charles’s arrival would complement the ranks of new arbitrator members Nigel Rawding KC, who joined from Freshfields in May 2021, and Sarah Grimmer, who set up residence in at the set’s Singapore arm last summer after stepping down as secretary general of the Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre. 

Charles, who joined Stewarts in 2014 from Mayer Brown, paid tribute to her former firm on LinkedIn, writing: ‘From the day I joined 10 years ago, Stewarts has lived up to its tag of being a law firm like no other. I have loved it; and will miss all my colleagues and especially my team, though I am quite sure they will continue to thrive without me!’

Two key members of that team, partners Daniel Wilmot and Alejandro Garcia, both experienced arbitration lawyers in their own right, will serve as interim co-heads of the department on Charles’s departure.

Stuart Dench, Stewarts’ managing partner, said: “Philippa has been sitting as an arbitrator more frequently over the last few years, so this move is a logical next step for her. I want to thank Philippa for helping to build the arbitration team over the past ten years”.

Last August Stewarts unveiled a spectacular set of financial results with revenue jumping by 43% to £114m and average profit per equity partner (PEP) nearly doubling to £2.74m.

Charles, meanwhile, is the second new tenant unveiled by Twenty Essex this month, leading Hong Kong junior barrister Thomas Wong having signed up last week after completing a shortened three-month pupillage.

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