Blackstone Chambers has shaken up its international strategy with the addition of leading Indian barrister Harish Salve, who is set to join chambers next week.
Salve is a regular advisor in India to the metal conglomerate Tata Group as well as advising billionaire Lakshmi Mittal and Arcelor Mittal on top level disputes.
The lawyer became involved with Blackstone Chambers after being instructed to act in a multi-jurisdictional arbitration for Essar Oil by Clyde & Co. Salve led the advocacy in the case alongside three Blackstone barristers, Andrew Green QC, Andreas Gledhill and Rob Weekes.
Other clients include Vodafone, who Salve acted for in its $2bn capital gains tax dispute with the Indian government. Vodafone lost the case at the High Court but went on to reverse the ruling at the Supreme Court.
Salve will join chambers as a full member and is understood to be in the process of being called to the English bar.
It will be a significant route into the Indian market for Blackstone, which is sticking rigidly to organic growth in London, rather than following others at the bar by opening offices outside London.
Senior clerk Gary Oliver said Blackstone had explored options for international expansion but rather than competing with foreign firms by moving into their jurisdictions with new offices, the set had made a strategic choice to stick to a one-office policy.
“The one-office policy has to remain our strength,” Oliver said. “Blackstone operates from one office in the Temple. The fact that we do not have overseas bases will not count against us, we’re happy to send people to where they’re needed.”
The set has created a new ‘best friend’ strategy and has established a relationship with Professor Harold Hongju Koh, who is currently Sterling Professor of International Law at Yale Law School.
During the Clinton administration, from 1998 to 2001, he served as the US assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labour law. Until January 2013, he served as the US state department as legal adviser in the Obama administration.
Chambers has also forged a relationship with the former deputy chief minister of Gibraltar, Keith Azopardi QC. He took silk in 2012 and currently practises at Triay Stagnetto Neish.
Azopardi was instructed to act for, amongst others, the Argentinian football agent of Leo Messi in a dispute before the Gibraltar Court of Appeal.