Ian A. Laird is co-chair of the firm's International Dispute Resolution Group and an adjunct professor at Columbia University School of Law and Georgetown University Law Center. He represents a range of clients in international arbitration proceedings involving disputes between corporations and foreign sovereign governments.
As a former chief of staff to a Canadian cabinet minister and a senior political aide to the Ontario Minister of Energy, Ian has run political campaigns and understands the intimate workings of government and politics, as well as their impact on industry. For over 15 years, Ian has counseled parties in investment arbitrations under the provisions of NAFTA, CAFTA-DR, the Energy Charter Treaty (ECT), and other international investment agreements, typically applying the arbitration rules of ICSID or UNCITRAL.
A long-time Washingtonian with extensive experience representing Fortune 500 clients, Ian advises corporations on geopolitical concerns when their investments face challenges overseas. He works primarily with clients involving issues in the energy and natural resources sector – such as power generation, oil and gas, and mining.
Ian's experience includes working on the earliest NAFTA investor-state arbitrations involving each of the three NAFTA state parties, and most recently has handled high profile gold and uranium mining arbitrations under the ICSID and UNCITRAL Rules. He is currently counsel on numerous investment treaty arbitrations and disputes, most recently involving the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Lithuania, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, and Turkey.
Ian is recognized as a leading practitioner in the arbitration field by the International Who's Who of Commercial Arbitration Lawyers 2014. He is also the co-founder and editor-in-chief of a leading resource in the field of investment arbitration, InvestmentClaims.com, which is published by Oxford University Press.
Ian serves as co-director of the International Investment Law Center (International Law Institute), which conducts its annual, two-week fall program on investment agreements and arbitration in Washington, D.C., and he is co-editor of the book series, Investment Treaty Arbitration and International Law (forthcoming is volume VIII published by Juris Publishing). He has co-edited nine books, and is co-chair of the only annual conference (organized by Juris Conferences) on investment arbitration held in Washington, D.C.
Ian is a D.C.-licensed Special Legal Consultant based in the firm's Washington office. He is the co-chair of Crowell & Moring's Visiting International Scholar Program (VISP).
- Representing a Canadian uranium mining company in its dispute with the Government of Mongolia to recover damages and other remedies in respect of the attempted illegal expropriation of its licenses in Mongolia and other unlawful, unfair and discriminatory actions. (Khan Resources Inc. v. Mongolia)
- Representing an American gold mining company against El Salvador in an ICSID arbitration arising out of the government's improper refusal to issue various environmental licenses and an exploitation concession. (Pac Rim v. El Salvador)
- Represented an Italian investor in a dispute against Lithuania in an UNCITRAL arbitration under the Italy-Lithuania BIT. The dispute arose in relation to that State's unfair and inequitable treatment of the investor's investment in the country's alcohol industry. (Bosca v. Lithuania)
- Represented an American-owned Kazakh investor against Kazakhstan in an ICSID arbitration under the U.S.-Kazakhstan BIT relating to the government's expropriation of the investor's oil production concession. (Caratube International Oil Company v. Kazakhstan)
- Represented a Cypriot company against the Government of Turkey in an ICSID arbitration under the Energy Charter Treaty (ECT) relating to the expropriation by Turkey of energy sector investments. (Libananco Holdings Co. Limited v. Turkey)
- Represented numerous U.S.-based, Fortune 500 clients to provide advice on international law and arbitration, in particular with respect to the application of NAFTA.
- Acted as Sole Arbitrator in ICC contract dispute between American and Italian parties.
- Represented American shareholders against the Government of Canada in a NAFTA claim. The main claimant, Mr. Marvin Gottlieb, was amongst the many U.S.-based investors who lost in excess of $5 Billion as a result of the Canadian Government's decision to eliminate the income trust tax mechanism with regard to Canadian energy trusts. (Gottlieb et al v. Canada)
- Represented forty-two Texas claimants before the Superior Court of Ontario in the judicial review of a NAFTA tribunal's jurisdiction award concerning water rights in Mexico of U.S. based investors. (Bayview et al v. Mexico)
- Represented a U.S. energy services company in a dispute before ICSID arising out of investments in Peru. Successful multimillion dollar final award rendered in 2008. (Duke Energy Peru Investments No. 1, Ltd. v. Peru)
- Represented United Parcel Service (UPS) in a lengthy and complex NAFTA arbitration against the Government of Canada under the UNCITRAL rules. The dispute concerned alleged breaches by the government's crown corporation, Canada Post Corporation, with regarding to anti-competitive and discriminatory measures taken by Canada and Canada Post in the courier service market in Canada. (United Parcel Service v. Canada)
- Represented two Canadian lumber firms against the U.S. Government in an UNCITRAL arbitration under the NAFTA. After the demise of the previous Softwood Lumber Agreement, Canadian lumber firms made strong allegations against the U.S. Government with regard to the fairness and impartiality of the U.S. Government's decisions concerning anti-dumping duties and countervailing duties on softwood lumber imports from Canada. Although the tribunal granted jurisdiction and leave for the arbitration to proceed to the merits phase, the intervening signing of the latest Softwood Lumber Agreement by Canada and the United States resulted in the settlement of the arbitration process. (Canfor Corporation v. United States, Terminal Forest Products Ltd. v. United States)
- Represented a U.S. lumber company against the Government of Canada in an UNCITRAL arbitration pursuant to the NAFTA. Claimant sought compensation from the Government of Canada with regard to alleged breaches of the NAFTA obligations concerning expropriation, national treatment, and fair and equitable treatment. The claimant was ultimately successful on one part of its claim, receiving damages for the breach of the fair and equitable treatment standard under Article 1105, and was able to preserve its business in the face of arbitrary and discriminatory conduct of Canadian government officials. (Pope & Talbot, Inc. v. Canada)
- Represented a U.S. investor in a NAFTA dispute with the Government of Canada under the UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules. The tribunal awarded damages to the claimant for the discriminatory and protectionist conduct of Canada with regard to lost investments in the PCB waste remediation market in Canada. (S.D. Myers, Inc. v. Canada)
- In one of the first NAFTA arbitration claims, Ian Laird represented the Government of British Columbia, Canada. This claim did not ultimately proceed to arbitration, but involved important early issues concerning water rights and the role of sub-national governments being subject to investor-state arbitration claims. (Sun Belt Water, Inc. v. Canada)
Professional Activities and Memberships
- Law Society of Upper Canada - Called to the Ontario Bar, and enrolled as a Solicitor of the Court of Appeal of Ontario
- District of Columbia - Licensed to practice as a Special Legal Consultant
- Ontario Bar Association (OBA) - International Law Section, Past-Chair, Section Executive Committee
- Canadian Bar Association (CBA) - International Law Section, Past-Co-Chair, Trade and Investment Committee
- Canadian Chamber of Commerce (CCC) - Arbitration Committee, International Affairs Committee
- International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) - Roster of Canadian Arbitrators
- International Bar Association (IBA)
- American Society of International Law (ASIL)
- Young Canadian Arbitration Practitioners (YCAP), Founder and former Executive Committee Member
- Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) International Moot Competition, Advisory Board Member
- University of Windsor Faculty of Law, University of Detroit Mercy School of Law - International Advisory Board Member to Dual Canada/U.S. J.D. Program
- International Investment Law Center (International Law Institute) (IILC) - Co-Director of Center
- Canada-U.S. Law Institute (CUSLI) - Advisory Board Member; Chair, Niagara International Moot Court Competition