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Two London boutiques join forces

PCB Litigation, a disputes boutique part-owned by
Burford Capital, has merged with London fraud
specialists Byrne and Partners to form a new firm
handling “all forms of dispute resolution”.

The merged firm, PCB Byrne, launched today, with PCB
Litigation moving into the offices of Byrne and Partners.
The newly merged international arbitration team features
six partners, including recent arrival Uliana Cooke, who joined
PCB Litigation as partner in February from Allen & Overy.
Burford Capital, which bought a 32% stake in PCB Litigation
last year in a “first of its kind” transaction that has seen
the funder finance a portfolio of the firm’s cases, was
“fully informed” about the merger plan and has been
“highly supportive throughout the process,” according to
Cooke.
Cooke will lead the drive to grow the team along with
another former PCB Litigation partner, Trevor Mascarenhas,
who worked on a US$2 billion LCIA mining dispute and a US$450 million SCC oil and gas case.

The team from PCB Litigation also includes Nick Ractliff,
Anthony Riem and Jon Felce, who acted in commercial disputes
including a fraud claim involving two Russian banks and
an UNCITRAL arbitration for an oil services company
based in Kazakhstan.

Elizabeth Seborg brings arbitration experience from the Byrne
& Partners side of the merger, having previously won a
US$90 million LCIA award.

The new firm will combine the Russia and CIS disputes
experience of the PCB team – and most notably Cooke,
who is dual-qualified in Russia and England and Wales –
with the fraud and white-collar crime specialism of Byrne
and Partners.

PCB Byrne launches with several Russia-related banking
disputes on its books: acting in an US$80 million LCIA
arbitration over investments in one collapsed Russian
bank and a fraud-related dispute that has also given rise
to LCIA proceedings.

And Cooke has brought in the first instruction in an
investment treaty dispute for PCB Byrne – and indeed its
two legacy firms – representing a Russian investor in a
potential claim against a Central Asian state.

While most of those instructions have come from the
PCB side, Byrne and Partners has brought with it a
US$170 million LCIA dispute acting for a Middle Eastern
company; and a fraud and bribery-related dispute worth
US$350 million.

PCB Byrne also brought several arbitration-related
litigation instructions, including one case seeking to
enforce an ICSID award and another helping a state resist
enforcement.

“I am delighted to have joined at this landmark moment
for both firms to lead the development of the newly
merged international arbitration practice,” says Cooke, who
began her career a decade ago at Freshfields Bruckhaus
Deringer in Moscow and has also worked at Quinn
Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan and Withers in London.

She has worked on various investor state disputes:
including an ICSID annulment proceeding in a Spanish
renewables case; a billion-dollar investment treaty claim
against an African state; representing an investor against
the Czech Republic; and defending a CIS state in a
gambling dispute.

Cooke says the two firms had an “outstanding track
record of arbitration enforcement cases,” including in
investor state disputes, but the merger now “completes
an arbitration offering that enables us to see the case
through from start to finish.”

She says the new firm’s expertise in white collar crime,
fraud and sanctions will be a “real asset.”

Merger discussions have been ongoing over the last two
years, says Cooke, given the “synergy between the two
firms and the opportunity to grow to the next level as a
top-tier specialist disputes firm.”
Cosmo Sanderson
Author

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