Willkie Launches International Arbitration Practice in London with Arrival of Duncan Speller

September 29, 2021

New York, NY September 29, 2021 --- Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP today announced that prominent international arbitration Barrister Duncan Speller will join the firm as a partner in the Litigation and Compliance, Investigations & Enforcement Practice Groups of the London office. He has been at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP since December 2002 and a partner since January 2013.

Mr. Speller’s arrival will launch Willkie’s international arbitration practice in London and continue the firm’s growth of its disputes practice both locally and globally. Mr. Speller has significant experience in international arbitration and has successfully represented clients on some of the most challenging, high-value and complex cases over the past decade. His addition will complement Willkie’s existing dispute resolution practice and market-leading arbitration practice in Paris, which has seen increased activity and client interest in this area over the past year.

Mr. Speller has represented clients in more than one hundred institutional and ad hoc arbitrations, sited in both common and civil law jurisdictions, including England, New York, Hong Kong, Singapore, France, Switzerland, Sweden, Austria and Germany. He also has substantial experience in international commercial litigation in both the English Court of Appeal and in the Commercial and Chancery Divisions of the High Court. He has particular experience of disputes concerning aviation, oil and gas, insurance and reinsurance, telecommunications, private equity, banking and competition law issues.

Mr. Speller has achieved recent success in a high-value post-M&A arbitration in the private equity sector, multiple arbitrations in the energy sector and in a complex jurisdictional dispute in Dynasty Company for Oil and Gas Trading v The Kurdistan Regional Government of Iraq and Dr Ashti Hawrami [2021] EWHC 952 (Comm), which was listed in The Lawyer’s Top 20 cases to watch in 2021.

“We are delighted to welcome Duncan to Willkie, his arrival will formally establish our international arbitration practice in London and expand our existing litigation offering.” said Peter Burrell, Head of Willkie’s Litigation and Compliance, Investigations & Enforcement Group in London. “He is an excellent addition to the deep bench of talent here at Willkie and his experience and track record in international arbitration will complement Willkie’s existing strengths.”

“I am excited to be joining Willkie’s growing London office and working with its market-leading litigation, compliance, investigations and enforcement teams” said Mr. Speller. “I have seen Willkie’s London office take increasing market share over the past couple of years and believe its client base, dynamic growth and ambitions for the future are an excellent fit. I have been inspired by the resoundingly positive response to the move and look forward to launching a world-class international arbitration team in London.”

Tariq Mundiya, Chair of Willkie’s Litigation Department, said: “Growing our international arbitration capabilities has been a strategic goal and the chance to add Duncan - one of the best lawyers in the field — was just too good to pass up. Adding Duncan to our London office will allow us to better leverage our market-leading practice in Europe, as well as expand the level of service we offer to our multinational clients.“

Mr. Speller is recognized as a Next Generation Partner by The Legal 500 UK (2021) in the area of International Arbitration and is ranked as a Future Leader Partner by Who's Who Legal (2017-2021) as one of the foremost practitioners in the arbitration community aged 45 and under. The latter publication identified Mr. Speller as one of the “most highly regarded” arbitration lawyers of his generation in 2021. Mr. Speller is described as being an “outstanding lawyer” who possesses a “super brain,” “a smart, hard-working and very impressive advocate,” and "phenomenal; extremely effective and doing exceptionally well." Mr. Speller was also selected for inclusion in the 2020 and 2022 editions of The Best Lawyers in the United Kingdom for his work in international arbitration. Mr. Speller was a key partner on a team selected in 2018 by The American Lawyer and Legal 500 as Transatlantic Dispute Resolution Team of the Year.

Mr. Speller sits on the governing body of the Bucharest Court of International Arbitration and is co-author of A Practical Guide to International Commercial Arbitration: Assessment, Planning and Strategy. He has taught commercial law, the conflict of laws and EU law at the University of Cambridge and regularly writes and speaks on issues relating to international arbitration.

Willkie’s Litigation and Compliance, Investigations & Enforcement Group represents public companies, financial institutions and their executives in all aspects of litigation and compliance, investigations and enforcement, and in particular high-stakes matters and all types of financial crimes. We are distinguished as an elite international team, joining up the experience of litigators in the US, UK and Continental Europe to provide an integrated platform of legal services covering multiple jurisdictions and geographies.

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Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP is an international law firm of approximately 1000 lawyers with offices in Brussels, Chicago, Frankfurt, Houston, London, Los Angeles, Milan, New York, Palo Alto, Paris, Rome, San Francisco and Washington. The Firm is headquartered in New York City at 787 Seventh Avenue.

Tel: 212.728.8000.