Arif Hyder Ali is the co-chair of Dechert’s International Arbitration practice, which consists of some 30 partners and associates across the firm’s 27 offices. He splits his time between the firm’s Washington, D.C. and London offices. He is also an Adjunct Professor of Law at Georgetown University, where he teaches international commercial and investment arbitration. From 2007 to 2012 he was an Honorary Lecturer and Global Faculty Member of the University of Dundee’s Centre for Energy, Mining and Petroleum Law and Policy. In 2001, he was decorated with the Order of Bahrain (II) for his role in the resolution of Bahrain’s maritime and territorial boundary dispute with Qatar before the International Court of Justice.
Mr. Ali has served as lead trial counsel in international investment, commercial and construction arbitrations under many of the major international and regional arbitral regimes and covering a broad range of industries and economic activity, including foreign direct investment; privatization; the construction, operation and commercialization of thermal, nuclear, and hydro power plants; oil and gas pipeline construction and concession-related matters; mining concessions; gas pricing disputes; natural resource exploitation projects and contracts; the development and operation of tourism and hospitality projects; project finance and development agreements; contract stabilization and renegotiation issues; patents and trademarks; Internet governance and top-level domains; and information technology-related disputes. He has represented parties from the United States, Canada, Central and South America, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and across Asia.
Mr. Ali is consistently rated as one of the world’s leading international arbitration and public international law specialists by Chambers and Partners, Legal 500, Global Arbitration Review, Who’s Who in American Law, Who’s Who in Public International Law, The Legal Media Group’s Guide to the World’s Experts in Commercial Arbitration, Lawdragon, PLC Which Lawyer?, The International Who’s Who of Business Lawyers, Washington Super Lawyers, The International Who’s Who of Commercial Arbitration Lawyers and The Best Lawyers in America.
He is praised by peers and clients as “possessed of diamond pedigree,” a “polished maestro in his field,” a “brilliant lawyer,” a “great advocate,” and “a very intelligent and knowledgeable international arbitration expert” with “extensive knowledge of complex arbitration issues,” and a “pragmatic approach.” Clients say that he “is a real pleasure to work with,” and note “his knowledge of and sensitivity towards region-specific legal issues,” as well as “his extensive knowledge in oil and gas, energy and mining matters.” He also draws particular acclaim for his “unique case preparation methods, which are the best and most rigorous in the field” (Chambers & Partners – USA: 2007, 2008, 2010, 2012; Global: 2011, 2012; Latin America: 2011, 2012) . In 2016, he was named MVPs of the Year by Law 360 for his accomplishments in international arbitration. He is noted as a Thought Leader in the 2019 Arbitration Guide of Who's Who Legal.
Mr. Ali frequently sits as an arbitrator in a wide variety of international commercial, construction (industrial and civil) and investor-state disputes, involving the governing laws of different jurisdictions and under various institutional regimes.
As part of his dispute resolution practice, Mr. Ali has also advised clients on risk mitigation and dispute avoidance strategies, and assisted clients in structuring resolutions to high-value and complex disputes working with bankers, insurance companies, public relations specialists, and other areas of expertise, as well as political advocacy.
He has taught at law faculties and spoken at more than a hundred conferences around the world on a wide range of topics in the fields of international arbitration, public international law, dispute avoidance and risk management, evidence in state-investor and international commercial arbitration; globalization and international economic development; rule of law and international investment; and diversity and the practice of international law.
From 1993 to 1996, he was a section chief at the UN Compensation Commission, a special division of the UN Security Council, and from 2000 to 2001, he served as senior counsel at the World Intellectual Property Organization Arbitration and Mediation Center.
Mr. Ali’s working languages are English, Spanish, French and Urdu. He is also conversant in Hindi, Bengali, and Portuguese. He is an avid Manchester United fan, cricket fanatic, secret poet, undeterred chef, and intrepid adventurer. His love for the law is only surpassed by his love for his family.
Mr. Ali has received several awards for client service and results, including, on multiple occasions, the International Law Office’s Client Choice Award for International Arbitration, based on client interviews, excerpts of which follow:
- “Having consulted other leading international law firms with formidable arbitration teams and reputations, we were immediately impressed with Mr Ali’s ‘Outside of the Box’ thinking and his uncanny ability to spot from the outset, potential argument angles that had been completely missed by the other firms.”
- “In my initial consultation with Mr. Ali, he clearly stood out amongst his peers. His uptake of our circumstances was rapid, his questions cut to the quick and his conclusions and advice were concise. I left the meeting with no doubt about my choice of representation.”
- “Mr. Ali has a thorough knowledge of international arbitration law which has obviously earned him great respect from his colleagues who rely on him; opposing counsel; and the arbitrators themselves, who obviously respect him.”
- “Mr. Ali’s preparation for hearings is thorough. He is demanding of himself and his colleagues and will not be outworked. Mr. Ali’s anticipation of the opposing side’s tactics is keenly intuitive.”
- “Presentation skills during the proceedings are concise, eloquent and persuasive. Mr. Ali’s focus and adaptability during the hearings is insightful. He thinks clearly on the run having the impressive ability to intake large volumes of information, boil that information down quickly, come to accurate conclusions and make moves on the fly.”
- “Mr. Ali has an outstanding intellect evident in his ability to quickly absorb relevant technical and scientific information. He combines his superior legal abilities and intellect with an unwavering commitment - a willingness to give every drop of effort he has inside him.”
- “Arif has an absolutely brilliant ability to rapidly understand the complexities of a business operation in the context of a contentious dispute, and to develop masterful strategies of advocacy that drive meaningful resolutions and advance the business objectives of the client. I never cease to be astounded by the facility with which he takes command of a seemingly overwhelming web of facts, witnesses, languages, and laws, and assembles it into an orderly and powerful narrative of advocacy. This ability is the ultimate client service, because Arif engages with and appreciates the intricacies of our business practices, and he is able to articulate the critical connections between those practices and the laws and contractual relationships that govern them.”
- “Equally important is Arif’s ability to transcend cultural barriers, embracing and nurturing relationships with our associates around the world to foster the trust and open communication that is critical to successful international representation. His dedication to developing his own team of incredibly talented and diverse colleagues is another example of his instinct that inclusiveness is important both for the benefit of the young lawyers he mentors, but also to provide engaged and effective client service to a global company.”
Current Academic Research Projects
- Analysis and review of investment law-based consents.
- Application of the principle of good faith in international commercial and investment arbitration.
- Application of the principle of adverse inferences in international commercial and investment arbitration.