Follow us

Leading international law firm Herbert Smith Freehills has launched an Australian arbitration hub to support its market-leading Asia Pacific arbitration practice.

Headquartered in Melbourne, the hub is led by partners Chad Catterwell and James Allsop who recently relocated following eight years in the firm's Tokyo office.

James' time in Tokyo and Chad's experience working in the firm's Hong Kong arbitration practice is bolstered by a team of lawyers experienced in complex cross-jurisdictional arbitration.

The hub will meet the needs of Herbert Smith Freehills’ clients along the Asia–Australia corridor, who benefit from a global platform of experts working as a connected team, bringing market leading litigation strategies to global businesses.

Under the firm’s Ambition 2025 strategy, Herbert Smith Freehills has targeted growth in and from Asia, utilising its international platform to service clients operating along key corridors between APAC, Europe, the US and the UK.

Aligning expertise with client need is a vital component of this strategy, and in addition to James' move, disputes partner Elaine Wong returned to the Tokyo office in January 2023 after spending three and a half years in the firm's Singapore office.

"Complex international arbitrations are typically resource heavy, and sometimes with conflicting timelines,” said James. "With the hub, we can deploy skilled resources at speed to support our clients, as procedural timelines evolve and change."

This is the second disputes hub launched by the firm, following the May 2022 creation of a construction and infrastructure disputes hub in Kuala Lumpur.

"Since returning to Melbourne in 2016, I've continued to work with colleagues and clients in Asia on international arbitrations," said Chad. "The hub formalises and strengthens this resource to provide a dedicated reinforcement for our Asia team."

The hub will complement the existing international arbitration practice in Australia comprising partners Elizabeth Macknay (Perth), Elizabeth Poulos (Brisbane) and Leon Chung (Sydney), and the market-leading Asia practice, comprising 73 partners in Southeast Asia, China and North Asia.

Key contacts

James Allsop photo

James Allsop

Partner, Australian Registered Foreign Lawyer (Admitted in England & Wales, not admitted in Australia), Melbourne

James Allsop
Chad Catterwell photo

Chad Catterwell

Partner, Melbourne

Chad Catterwell

Media contact

For further information on this article please contact

Collette Farley

External Communications Manager


Media contact

For further information on this article please contact

Dora Cheok

Senior Communications Manager, Asia


Brisbane Melbourne Sydney Perth Tokyo Bangkok Hong Kong Jakarta Mainland China Singapore International Arbitration Commercial Arbitration James Allsop Chad Catterwell