Law firms and barristers chambers often claim that they practise throughout the world and describe their work as international; but what does it mean to have a truly international practice? For the lawyers at Bretton Woods Law, an international practice means exactly that: practising in different countries, in different languages, with people of different nationalities and cultures, and within different international organisations. Since its birth in spring 2012, BWL has set itself apart from other law firms and barristers chambers by living up to its ever growing reputation as an established team of preeminent international law specialists with a truly global reach. BWL’s international practice manifests itself in the following ways:
1. International anti-corruption practice: investigations into alleged sanctionable practices in development projects worldwide
In the last 18 months, the lawyers at BWL have undertaken investigations into World Bank and Asian Development Bank (ADB) funded projects carried out in Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Sierra Leone, Southern Sudan, Afghanistan, Kyrgyz Republic, Mongolia, Cambodia, Vietnam, Ukraine, Kosovo and Sri Lanka. They have worked directly with the World Bank’s Integrity Vice-Presidency (INT) and the ADB’s Office of Anticorruption and Integrity (OAI), and have established themselves as experts in this specialist field. Members of Bretton Woods Law are also currently instructed by the African Development Bank’s (AfDB) Integrity and Anti-corruption Department (IACD) and have workings with the Global Fund’s Office of the Inspector General.
2. International organisations and their internal justice systems
The lawyers at BWL currently operate in seventeen international organisations, based in nine countries and spread over four continents. Their work is varied and they currently act for:
- the staff associations, councils and unions of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO), the European Patent Office (EPO);
- individual international civil servants and board members at the International Criminal Court (ICC), the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), the International Oil Pollution Compensation Funds (IOPC) the Commonwealth Foundation, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the International Coffee Organization (ICO), the EBRD, the IDB, the PAHO, the EPO and the ADB; and
- the Commonwealth Secretariat (in relation to cases arising out of grievances within its own internal justice system).
Beyond assistance and representation in the disciplinary boards and the first-tier tribunals such as the Conciliations Committees, the Grievance Committees and the Joint Appeal Boards, the lawyers at BWL also represent clients in the IDB Administrative Tribunal in Washington DC, the EBRD Administrative Tribunal in London, the ADB Administrative Tribunal in Manila and the International Labour Organisation Administrative Tribunal (ILOAT) in Geneva.
3. International Alternative Dispute Resolution
Beyond traditional litigation and advocacy within international organisations’ internal justice systems, the lawyers at BWL are experts in international Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) and currently represent the Uruguayan, Guyanese, Brazilian, Guatemalan, Bolivian, Nicaraguan, Mexican, Paraguayan, Panamean, Costa Rican and Argentinian Country Offices of a large international organisation in formal mediation proceedings. BWL also has experience of mediations arising out of employment disputes within the EBRD and the Commonwealth Secretariat in London. Through its International Alternative Dispute Resolution Services (iADRs), BWL’s dedicated team ensures it offers known experts in International Organisations Law who are CEDR trained and accredited mediators who have the ability to broker settlement agreements in the most difficult and challenging of circumstances.
4. Multilingual lawyers and offices worldwide
Boasting seven specialist lawyers of four different nationalities and diverse backgrounds, who between them practise (written and spoken) in English, French, Spanish and German, BWL has representative offices in all the important seats of international organisations worldwide: London, Geneva, New York City, Washington DC, Tunis and Manila. Members of Chambers have lived and practised in the United Kingdom, Germany, the United States of America, Tunisia, France, Switzerland, East Timor, Papua New Guinea, Belize, Cyprus, the Turks and Caicos Islands, the Netherlands, Australia and the Gaza strip.
By travelling around the globe representing International Civil Servants who face intricate employment issues, the BWL team faces varying approaches, languages and cultures on a daily basis, all of which they takes in their stride. This innate empathy with different nationalities enables them to represent their clients against large international organisations with a very human approach. The same can be said for their work alongside companies who have been accused of fraud, corruption and bribery on projects funded by multilateral development banks (MDBs). Their ability to carry out investigations and research involves dealing with clients, including international organisations and International Financial Institutions (IFIs), from around the world, and their cultural sensitivity and international experience is highly advantageous and benefits clients and colleagues alike.