Expertise

Sarah Z. Vasani heads Addleshaw Goddard's Investor State Dispute Resolution Practice.  Sarah is a skilled international arbitration lawyer specialising in both international commercial arbitration and investor state disputes, advising investors and host states alike. 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". Sarah was also recognised in The Legal 500’s inaugural International Arbitration Powerlist in 2019. 

Sarah represents clients before key arbitral institutions including the LCIA, DIFC-LCIA, ICC, ICDR, WIPO, SIAC, HKAIC, SCC, ICSID, and in arbitrations conducted under the UNCITRAL Rules, and 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 advises clients on investment (re)structuring, and on strategies, options, and tactics for minimising the prospects of full-blown disputes. Sarah is an adroit counsellor on managing and sharing the risks of arbitration through third-party funding, ATE insurance, and conditional-fee and damages-based agreements, and enforcing arbitral awards.  

She regularly sits as party-nominated, sole, and presiding arbitrator, and is on CIArb's Business Arbitration Scheme panel.

Sarah has vast experience in energy, oil and gas, mining, and other large-scale project disputes in Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia, India and Latin America. She has represented clients such as Exterran, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Sempra, Itron, Reliance, Patel Engineering, PA Resources, and Victoria Oil & Gas. 

Sarah frequently lectures on international investment arbitration. She has spoken and published extensively on topics relating to international arbitration and cross-border issues, including climate change, the resolution of energy disputes, collateral attacks on arbitration in national courts, third-party funding, improving efficiency in international arbitration, ADR, arbitration with states and state entities, achieving negotiated settlement with states and state entities, corruption, and the importance of diversity 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.  She works in both English and Spanish.  

Before joining Addleshaw in 2016, she spent a decade in King & Spalding's London, Houston and Washington, D.C. offices.

Representative Commercial Arbitration Experience
  • Acting for an American technology company offering energy and water resource management services against a UAE ICT infrastructure and services integration company in a DIFC-LCIA arbitration relating to an alleged breach of a Teaming Agreement.  The dispute involves the provision of goods and services to an electricity and water authority in the MENA region.  The arbitration is governed by English law and seated in the DIFC. 
  • Acting for a US energy company against a Pakistani company in four LCIA-DIFC arbitrations relating to the provision of goods and services for three gas processing facilities in Karachi, Pakistan. The arbitration is governed by English law and seated in Dubai. 
  • Acting for a Lebanese food and beverage company against a US company in relation to a dispute arising under several franchise agreements.  The arbitration is governed by Texas law and seated in Texas. 
  • Acting for West African Communications and Technology Company against a West African Central Bank in a high value LCIA arbitration concerning a technology project. The arbitration governed by Ghanaian law and seated London.
  • 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, allegedly in violation of the parties' LCIA arbitration agreement. 
  • 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 and seated in London.  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

Patel Engineering Limited v. Mozambique (rail and port project); Boonsom Boonyanit v. Malaysia (real estate investment and judicial misconduct – resulted in favourable settlement); 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).

Professional memberships
  • Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators
  • Member of the Panel of Arbitrators for the CIArb's Business Arbitration Scheme
  • Member of the International Mediation Institute (IMI) Investor-State Mediation Taskforce (2017-present), and head of the Singapore Convention subgroup (2018-present)
  • International Centre for Dispute Resolution Young and International (ICDR Y&I), Global Advisory Board, 2017-2020
  • Pledge for Green Arbitration, Steering Committee
Languages
  • English (Native)
  • Spanish (Fluent)
  • French (Basic)
Speaking engagements
  • How can disputes professionals continually adapt to the needs of business?, Panellist, Eighth Dispute Appointment Services (DAS) Convention 2020: Handling Disputes in an Era of Uncertainty, CIArb, (November 2020)
  • The GAR Live Debate: This house believes that most cases don’t need an oral hearing, Debater, Global Arbitration Review Interactive: Europe (September 2020) 
  • The Mechanics and Practicalities of Investor – State Settlement - Representing Private Sector Entities against States and State Entities, Panellist, 35th Annual School of International Arbitron - ICC Institute of World Business Law Symposium of Arbitrators, London (February 2020) 
  • Cross Examination of Technical Experts in International Arbitration, Panellist, EODID / ICDR Y&I Pre Vis-Moot Opening Conference, Athens (February 2020)
  • Keynote Address on Climate Change and International Dispute Resolution: Risks and Opportunities for our Clients, the Changing Nature of Disputes, and How International Arbitration Practitioners Can Make a Difference, Young Arbitration Review, Munich (December 2019). 
  • International Commercial Courts, International Arbitration and Investment Courts: Hecate of International Commercial Dispute Resolution or Three Sides of the Same Coin?, Discussion Leader, Global Forum on International Arbitration, Chantilly, France (December 2019).
  • Alternative Dispute Resolution in Investor State Dispute Settlement, An Elegant Solution or Mere Distraction?, Panellist and Moderator, CIArb DAS Convention Conference, London (November 2019). 
  • The Myths and Realities of International Arbitration, ArbitralWomen Roundtable Discussion, Panellist, International Arbitration in Pakistan: Opportunities for the Next Generation YAG Inaugural Conference, Islamabad (November 2019). 
  • Pakistan's Experience in Investment Arbitration: How to Revisit the Approach and Rise to the Challenge, Panellist, International Arbitration in Pakistan: Opportunities for the Next Generation YAG Inaugural Conference, Islamabad (November 2019). 
  • Arbitrator Independence and Impartiality, Queen Mary School of International Arbitration Seminar, Speaker, Queen Mary University of London, London (October 2019).
  • Attacking the Animal of Fake Evidence in International Arbitration: The Approaches Tribunals and Counsel Adopt When Dealing with Fake Evidence in International Arbitration Proceedings, Panellist, Young Arbitration Review 2.0 Conference, Lisbon (October 2019).
  • Cross Border Dispute Practices, Panellist, International Weekend 2019, The Law Society Junior Lawyers Divisions / European Young Bar Association, London Young Lawyers Group, & Young Barristers' Committee, London (September 2019). 
  • Decoding Developments in Indian Arbitration, Panellist, White & Case, London (September 2019).
  • Evolution, Not Revolution: ISDS Reform at UNCITRAL Working Group III, Panellist, CIArb Discussion Series on ISDS Reform and UNCITRAL Working Group III, London (September 2019). 
  • New Developments in Commercial Arbitration, Panellist, 2019 UK/US Cross-Border Litigation Summit, MoloLamken, London (July 2019). 
  • GAR Live Debate, Debater, 2nd Annual Who's Who Future Leaders: Arbitration Conference, London (July 2019). 
  • Efficiency Innovations in International Arbitration, Presenter, Addleshaw Goddard – A&L Goodbody International Arbitration Symposium, Dublin (June 2019). 
  • Through the looking glass: Finding the Balance between Transparency and Confidentiality in International Arbitration, Panellist, London International Disputes Week, ArbitralWomen / DLA Piper LIDW Kick-Off Event, London (May 2019). 
  • Mock Arbitration Challenge, Presiding Arbitrator, International Arbitration & Dispute Resolution Symposium: Challenges and Controversies in International Arbitration, Washington University School of Law, St Louis, Missouri (March 2019). 
  • Effective Advocacy in International Arbitration, Panellist, 3rd Tour de Arbitration, Centre for Advanced Research in Dispute Settlement (CARDS), Paris (February 2019). 
  • Challenges to the Legitimacy of International Arbitration, Panellist, Legal Business’ International Arbitration Summit, London (November 2018).
  • Third Party Funding: Presenting your Client's Case and the Due Diligence Process, Panellist, Georgia International Arbitration Centre's 5th Annual Arbitration Days, Tbilisi (October 2018).
  • Lessons from Fake Evidence in the Fake News Era, Keynote Address, International Law in Context Conference, Canterbury Christ Church University (June 2018). 
  • Arbitral Parents: Managing Parenthood in the Context of an International Practice; Panellist, ICDR Y&I / ArbitralWomen Joint Event, London, UK (November 2017).
  • GAR Live London Autumn – A 360 Look at Damages, Panellist, London, UK (October 2017). 
  • Arbitration Strategy and Funding, AIPN Europe-Africa Chapter Event, Moderator, London, UK (October 2017). 
  • Investing in Africa: Structuring Investments to Obtain Bilateral Investment Treaty Protection, 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)
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)
  • Bowing to the Queen: Rejecting the Margin of Appreciation Doctrine in International Investment Arbitration, Investment Treaty Arbitration and International Law, Vol. 3, (May 2010)