Peers and clients say:
"Ania has great analytical skills and in-depth knowledge of the law"
"Her ability to reconcile opposing views and deploy them in advancing our interest is one of her greatest strengths"
"She never gives up, is always frank with us and draws resources from every relevant jurisdiction to ensure that we obtain the best representation"
Ania is a partner at Fieldfisher. She advises and represents states and corporate entities in a wide variety of international dispute resolution and public international law matters, including commercial and investment treaty arbitrations. She has over 20 years of experience as counsel. Ania has acted as counsel in disputes conducted under all major arbitration rules including ICC, ICSID, ICSID Additional Facility, LCIA and SCC. She previously worked at a leading third party funder. Ania is chair of the ICC UK Committee for Arbitration and ADR and co-chair of the International Arbitration Charity Ball. She also sits as an arbitrator and is a member of Arbitra.
Her time spent as the Managing Director of a leading litigation funder means she has a deep understanding of the arbitration procedure from a commercial and funding perspective and is therefore uniquely placed to understand the mechanisms of securing litigation funding for her clients.
Ania is a qualified solicitor with Higher Rights of Audience in England and Wales. She has an MA from Downing College, Cambridge.
What did you find most challenging when starting out in arbitration practice?
I think when you start practicing as an arbitration lawyer, the first challenge comes when you realise that it is not enough to be brilliant technically. You are surrounded by lawyers who came top of their year at law school – I was when I qualified into the Shearman & Sterling team in Paris 20 years ago. It's not enough. You need to get good at networking and building a profile. Importantly, you need to learn how to be a great strategist, both internally managing big personalities within your own team but also externally with regard to opposing counsel. Clients need outcomes that work for them commercially, so it's not just about what is correct in the strict legal sense.
As chair of the ICC UK Committee on Arbitration and Alternative Dispute Resolution, what are your goals and how will you achieve them?
I set out as the first female chair of the Committee with several goals. Some have already been achieved (I hope) and others remain on my to-do list. We set up the terms of reference for the Committee, that outlined the roles and terms of its members. This was the first time that those terms were clearly defined and transparent. I was keen that the Committee was inclusive and diverse, had a regular "refresh" of members so that all ICC UK members felt represented and able to play a role in shaping the UK's input. We have already increased diversity from a gender and age perspective. We are now focusing on increasing representation from minorities. We have set up a separate sub-committee for arbitrator nominations, and members of that sub-committee are committed to selecting the best people but also to look at diversity in their appointments. We have given quite a few arbitration practitioners their first appointment. We are also looking at how to best market ICC arbitration to corporates in the UK (not just London), and allowing members/users of the process to gain better insight into the value of having the ICC administer your dispute. As an example, we have run a mock ICC court session, and later this year we will hold a conference to discuss the ICC scrutiny process. This is a role I am extremely passionate about and feel very privileged to be able to make even a small difference.
What do you enjoy most about your role as co-chair of the International Charity Ball Committee?
This is the one thing I do that truly makes me feel better about myself as a human being. The ability to give back! Save the Children is such an amazing cause. Also standing on stage looking out onto a room of close to 1000 arbitration practitioners/experts/service providers reminds me how privileged I am to be part of this community; The spirit and enthusiasm of the room. We are so blessed to have friends and colleagues from all over the world who genuinely like each other's company but also want to do something good for those in need. It makes me very proud.
If you could introduce one reform in arbitration proceedings, commercial and investor-state, what would it be and why?
Any reform that would encourage parties to settle – for example provisions in arbitral rules empowering/encouraging arbitrators to share preliminary views on cases or to steer parties to set aside time for settlement discussion. This would need to be accompanied with training for arbitrators to provide them with the necessary tools to be able to do this effectively. For some, depending on their legal culture this would feel very unnatural.
In what ways does Fieldfisher distinguish itself from competitors in the arbitration market?
We have the quality of the top tier practices, but culturally we are nice people to work with. As a newer, younger team we have the dynamism required to be commercial and nimble in approach where necessary. We rock ;)
How effective have the ICC’s expedited procedure provisions been at streamlining arbitrations?
Very. I am currently sitting as sole arbitrator in an ICC arbitration under these Rules. Between 1st March 2017 and end of Dec 2022, the total number of cases that have been or are currently administered under the expedited procedure is 524 cases. Of the 269 awards rendered 67 percent were delivered on or around the six-month time limit from the case management conference. In cases where the delay exceeded one month with no justified circumstances, the ICC Court applied a reduction of the arbitrators’ fees.
What is the most essential skill for an arbitration lawyer to be successful?
A problem-solving mentality. An ability to sift through a ton of information (both factual and legal) to get to a good commercial/business solution for our clients.
In what ways are ICSID’s new regulations affecting investor state arbitration proceedings?
This is too broad a question to answer here! Because I spent two years at a leading funder, I would say that it is extremely interesting to see how many new institutional rules now require disclosure of funding arrangements – something that five years ago was such a controversial issue has become a matter of course. I think the stigma of funding in arbitration has almost disappeared. It is great that clients can seek funding for their claims and focus efforts and resources on their core business operations, without worrying about how this will be viewed by arbitrators.