Karyl Nairn


Karyl Nairn, Queens Counsel (QC), was born in Perth and is a graduate of the University of Western Australia. She practised law in Perth before moving to London to undertake a Masters degree (specialising in international law) at the London School of Economics. Karyl then qualified as an English solicitor and was the first woman to be appointed as the head of an international arbitration practice in London. She is currently the global co-head of the international litigation and arbitration practice of Skadden Arps, one of the world’s leading law firms.

Karyl is a highly respected advocate in international arbitration and is one of only three woman solicitors in England to be awarded the rank of Queen’s Counsel. In 1999, she was appointed to represent Australia on the ICC International Court of Arbitration in Paris and is now one of the Vice Presidents of the Court. Karyl is ranked in the top tier of “leading individuals” for international arbitration in the Chambers UK legal directory, and was ranked amongst the top 20 business lawyers in the UK in “Chambers 100” for 2013. The Legal 500 directory has described her as being “in a league of her own.” She was named one of the “50 Most Influential Women in Law” by Legal Business magazine in 2007 and was shortlisted for “Most Innovative Lawyer of the Year” by the Financial Times in 2012. She was also included in The Lawyer magazine’s “Hot 100” list of top lawyers in the UK in 2013.

Karyl led the successful defence of Roman Abramovich in the English High Court in a multi-billion dollar case brought by Boris Berezovsky, the Russian oligarch, which was the largest private trial in the world. She is also regarded as one of the world’s leading practitioners in the field of investment treaty disputes, acting for both States and investors in proceedings brought under the auspices of the World Bank’s investment dispute settlement rules: She represented Messrs Fuchs and Kardassopoulos in their ground-breaking proceedings against the Republic of Georgia and is currently representing South Sudan in proceedings brought under an investment treaty by the State Oil company of Sudan.

As well as her counsel work, Karyl is regularly appointed as arbitrator in complex international commercial disputes. She is a joint editor of the book Arbitration World (published by Thomson Reuters in 2012) and is a member of the Editorial Board of the journal, Arbitration International.

Karyl is a member of the Advisory Board of JUSTICE, all-party law reform and human rights organisation and charity dedicated to strengthening the justice system in the UK. As part of her international pro bono activities, she also advises Walk Free, a charity established in Australia to fight global slavery.

Winner of the Advance Financial Services Award for 2014
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