White & Case to target European ADR market

US firm White & Case has transferred the head of its global litigation practice to its Paris office to expand its European, Middle East and African disputes practice.

Rayner Hamilton has moved to the French capital from the firm's New York office to oversee the growth of the disputes practice, which takes in litigation, arbitration, mediation and alternative dispute resolution.

Hamilton promises expansion of the disputes practices in the London and Paris offices, as well as in developing markets like Warsaw, Prague and Johannesburg. He will be in Europe for at least two years to build the practice.

He says the litigation brought by Holocaust survivors and their families in the US against Polish banks and government departments has increased awareness in eastern Europe of the internationalisation of law.

“That has created interest in Poland about the whole reach of American courts.

“It was a rude awakening to Polish entities that American courts would exercise jurisdiction over those claims,” he says.

He says Polish financial institutions have realised that US courts would also have jurisdiction over their assets in countries that recognise US law. “Business activity is increasing in these countries and that inevitably results in disputes,” he says.

Hamilton adds: “We are going to see more US firms in western Europe doing dispute matters.

“The world is getting smaller and American entities are active over here and European entities are active in the US and that invites the involvement of US counsel.”

The firm currently has disputes lawyers working in offices in Paris, London, Brussels, Warsaw, Prague, Stockholm, Jeddah and Johannesburg.