Expertise

Sarah Z. Vasani is an experienced international arbitration lawyer specialising in both international commercial arbitration and investor state disputes. She is commended for providing "excellent client service" and has been described by her clients as a "strategic, energetic, tenacious and an incredibly capable counsellor and advocate" with "exceptionally strong written and oral advocacy skills". Sarah recently was recognised in 2017 and 2018 by Who's Who Legal and Global Arbitration Review as a "Future Leader in International Arbitration", who described her as "a 'persuasive and effective counsel' who possesses particularly commendable expertise in energy".

Sarah represents clients before key arbitral institutions including the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA), International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), International Centre for Dispute Resolution (ICDR), World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), Singapore International Arbitration Court (SIAC), Hong Kong International Arbitration Court (HKIAC), Stockholm Chamber of Commerce (SCC), and in arbitrations conducted under the UNCITRAL Rules, and under foreign investment laws. In addition to advocating for her clients' interests before international tribunals in hearings on procedural issues, interim measures, jurisdiction, and merits, and enforcement, set aside, and annulment proceedings, Sarah also advises clients on investment (re)structuring, and on strategies, options, and tactics for minimising the prospects of full-blown disputes. Sarah is an adroit counselor on managing and sharing the risks of arbitration through third-party funding, ATE insurance, and conditional-fee and damages-based agreements.

Sarah has particular experience in energy, oil and gas, mining, and other large scale project disputes in Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia, the Indian Subcontinent, and Latin America. She has represented clients such as Exterran, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, El Paso Corporation, Sempra Energy, Murphy Oil Corporation, Reliance Industries, PA Resources, and Madagascar Oil.

Sarah is a Visiting Professor at the University of Bedfordshire, where she teaches international investment arbitration. She has spoken and published extensively on topics relating to international arbitration and cross-border issues, including the resolution of energy disputes, collateral attacks on arbitration in national courts, improving efficiency in international arbitration, dispute resolution in the Middle East and Africa, arbitration with states and state entities, energy disputes in times of civil unrest, corruption, and diversity of arbitrator candidates in international arbitration.

Sarah is qualified in England & Wales, the District of Columbia, and Texas, and is a Solicitor-Advocate of the Higher Courts of England and Wales. Sarah works fluently in both English and Spanish.

Prior to joining Addleshaw Goddard in 2016, Sarah spent a decade in the Houston, Washington D.C., and London offices of another international law firm.

Representative Commercial Arbitration Experience
  • Advised the Ministry of Energy of a West African State in relation to an UNCITRAL arbitration seated in London concerning a dispute under a Build, Operate, Own and Transfer Agreement concerning a 300MW power station.
  • Represented a Ghanaian oil and gas company in an UNCITRAL arbitration governed by Ghanaian law and seated London, against multinational lending institutions, in relation to the failure of the institutions to disburse loans related to a petroleum storage facility. The representation included defending an anti-suit injunction obtained by the lending institutions (on a without notice basis) before the English courts.
  • Represented India’s largest private oil and gas company in two UNCITRAL arbitrations against the Indian Government, one in relation to the company’s right to cost recovery under a PSC and the other relating to gas pricing.
  • Represented a major US-based oil and gas services provider against a Kazakh company in three LCIA arbitrations governed by English law. The dispute involved three separate agreements to provide goods and services to a gas processing and treatment facility in Kazakhstan (interim services, technical consultancy and O&M agreements).
  • Advised a major US-based oil and gas services provider in dispute avoidance strategies in relation to an explosion at a gas processing plant in Pakistan.
  • Advised one of the world's leading media and entertainment companies on restructuring its investment in the Middle East, and revising its web of layered disputes resolution clauses to maximise legal protection while minimising costs in the event of a dispute between the company and its contracting parties.
  • Represented a Swiss technology company in a LCIA-administered arbitration against a US technology corporation concerning a licensing dispute governed by the substantive laws of California and the US, and the procedural laws of England.
  • Represented a Mexican publishing distributor in a London-based LCIA arbitration against a Greek publishing house. The dispute concerned the breach of an exclusive distribution agreement, and expanded to include copyright and criminal matters.
Representative public investment cases

Boonsom Boonyanit v. Malaysia (real estate investment and judicial misconduct); Chevron Corp. & Texaco Petroleum Co. v. Ecuador (oil production and exploration, environmental remediation and corruption); Chevron Corp. & Texaco Petroleum Co. v. Ecuador (oil exploration and production and denial of justice); Chevron Bangladesh Blocks Twelve & Blocks Thirteen & Fourteen v. Bangladesh (natural gas pipelines); Waguih Siag v. Egypt (hotel resort development); El Paso Energy Int’l v. Argentina (hydrocarbon and electricity concessions, including PPAs); Murphy Exploration & Production Int’l v. Ecuador (hydrocarbons exploration and exploitation and windfall profits); S&T Oil Equipment & Machinery Ltd. v. Romania (chemical plant); Impregilo v. Argentina (water services concession); Impregilo II (Caminos de las Sierras) v. Argentina (highway infrastructure construction); Azurix v. Argentina (water and sewer services concession agreement); Exterran v. Venezuela (nationalisation of assets); Pan American Energy and BP Argentina Exploration v. Argentina (hydrocarbon and electricity concessions, including PPAs); Invesmart v. Czech Republic (banking); Sempra Energy Int’l v. Argentina (natural gas supply and distribution); Madagascar Oil Ltd. v. Madagascar (hydrocarbons exploration); CEAC Holdings Ltd. v. Montenegro (aluminium industry); Renco v. Peru (metallurgical complex refining and processing copper, lead, zinc and other metals).

Speaking engagements
  • Arbitration Strategy and Funding, AIPN Europe-Africa Chapter Event, Moderator, London, UK (October 2017).
  • Investing in Africa, Panellist, London (October 2017),
  • ICDR Y&I – ICC YAF Workshop on Cross Examination, Moderator, Georgia International Arbitration Centre's 4th Annual Arbitration Days, Tbilisi (October 2017).
  • Competition for Jurisdiction, "Unilateral Option Clauses: What are they, do they work, what are the risks and how should we deal with them?", Panellist, Georgia International Arbitration Centre's 4th Annual Arbitration Days, Tbilisi (October 2017).
  • Challenges to the Legitimacy of International Arbitration, Speaker, 29th Annual ITA Workshop and Annual Meeting, Dallas (June 2017)
  • Current Trends in International Energy Arbitration, Energy Forum Debate, Panellist, Queen Mary Centre for Commercial Law Studies and the Energy and Natural Resources Law Institute, London (June 2017)
  • Current Market Trends in International Arbitration and Litigation, "Recent Developments in International Investment Arbitration - Developing a Framework for Corruption Cases", Panellist, English Law Day Forum in Almaty, Kazakhstan (May 2017)
  • Third Party Funding Debate, Moderator, London Arbitration Supper Club, London (February 2017)
  • Debate – Should Arbitrators be Trusted with Corruption and Bribery Claims?, CIArb Young Members Group Conference entitled "Life of a Dispute", (November 2016)
  • Making Inspired Arbitrator Choices, Keynote Speaker, Portuguese Arbitration Association – Sub 40, Lisbon (September 2016)
  • Debate – Measures Should Be Put Into Place to Address the Issue of Diversity of International Arbitrators Rather than Await Natural Evolution, Speaker, London Arbitration Supper Club, London (July 2016)
  • International Investment Court Awards in the Shadows of the New York Convention, Panellist, Centre for Research in Law (CRiL) Summer Conference “Rebalancing International Investment Agreements in Favour of Host States: Time for an International Investment Court?”, University of Bedfordshire (June 2016)
  • Rebalancing International Investment Agreements, Moderator, Centre for Research in Law (CRiL) Summer Conference “Rebalancing International Investment Agreements in Favour of Host States: Time for an International Investment Court?”, University of Bedfordshire (June 2016)
  • Energy Dispute Resolution: Collateral Attacks in National Courts, Presenter, 1st Annual Conference on Energy Arbitration and Dispute Resolution in the Middle East and Africa, London (March 2016)
  • The Arbitration and Reconciliation Bill in India and its Impact on Investors, Presenter, U.S.-India Business Counsel, International Webinar (December 2015)
  • Less Means to More Ends, Improving Efficiency in International Arbitration, Panellist, ICDR Young and International - ICC Young Arbitrator’s Forum, Zagreb (December 2015)
  • The Emergency Arbitrator, Moderator, ICDR Young and International - ICC Young Arbitrator’s Forum – Association of Portuguese Arbitrators Sub-40, Lisbon (March 2015)
  • Paper, Paper, Everywhere: Best Practices for Written Presentation of a Party’s Case, Panellist, ICC Young Arbitrator’s Forum, London (May 2014)
  • Arbitration with States and State Entities Under Contracts and Treaties, Panellist, Young Arbitrators Forum, Washington DC (July 2010)
  • Public Policy & Interpretation of Substantive Standards & Protections: Is There a Place for Margins of Appreciation & Standards of Review in Applying International Investment Standards? Juris Conference on International Investment Law & Arbitration, Washington D.C. (April 2009)
  • Women in International Law, Emory University School of Law, Legal Association of Women Students Biennial Conference, Atlanta, GA (February 2009)
  • State Court Intervention in ICSID Arbitration, George Washington University Law School, “Is There a New Common Law of Investment Arbitration?” Washington D.C. (October 2007)
  • Challenges to the Legitimacy of International Arbitration, Speaker, 29th Annual ITA Workshop and Annual Meeting, Dallas (June 2017)
  • Current Trends in International Energy Arbitration, Energy Forum Debate, Panellist, Queen Mary Centre for Commercial Law Studies and the Energy and Natural Resources Law Institute (June 2017)
  • Current Market Trends in International Arbitration and Litigation, "Recent Developments in International Investment Arbitration - Developing a Framework for Corruption Cases", Panellist, English Law Day Forum in Almaty, Kazakhstan
  • (May 2017)
Selected articles
  • Protecting International Investments in a World Turning Insular, International Arbitration Quarterly Review, (February 2017). 
  • Inspired Arbitrator Choices: Addressing International Arbitration's Diversity Deficit, YOUNG ARBITRATION REVIEW, Edition 23 (October 2016)

  • African Oil Disputes in International Waters, Oil Review Africa, (August 2015

  • The ITLOS: Patterns in the prescription of provisional measures and their implications for offshore oil and gas projects in disputed international waters, YOUNG ARBITRATION REVIEW, Edition 18 (July 2015)

  • The Emergency Arbitrator – An Effective Option for Urgent Relief, YOUNG ARBITRATION REVIEW, Edition 17 (April 2015)

  • Energy Disputes in Times of Civil Unrest: Transitional Governments and Foreign Investment Protections, in CONTEMPORARY ISSUES IN INTERNATIONAL ARBITRATION AND MEDIATION - THE FORDHAM PAPERS 2013, A. Rovine Ed., Martinus Nijhoff (co-author with C. Mouawad) (2014)

Professional memberships
  • Visiting Professor on International Investment Arbitration, University of Bedfordshire, Luton, UK
  • Member of the International Mediation Institute (IMI) Investor-State Mediation Taskforce (2017-present)
  • International Centre for Dispute Resolution Young and International (ICDR Y&I), Global Advisory Board, 2017-2020
  • Young ICSID, ICC Young Arbitrators Forum, Young ICCA, YSIAC, LCIA Young International Arbitration Group, ArbitralWomen, Association of International Petroleum Negotiators (AIPN), and AIPN Young Negotiators
Year qualified
  • Solicitor-Advocate of the Higher Courts of England and Wales (Civil Division) (2016)
  • Solicitor of the Senior Courts of England and Wales (2013)
  • Washington D.C. (2008)
  • Texas (2006)
Education
  • Vanderbilt University Law School
    • Juris Doctorate (2006)
  • Michigan State University
    • Bachelor of Arts, International Relations (2002)
    • Bachelor of Science, Agriculture & Natural Resources Communications (2002)
    • Specializations: Latin American and Caribbean Studies, Environmental Economics

 

Languages
  • English (Native)
  • Spanish (Fluent)
  • French (Basic)