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Christian Leathley

Partner, Co-Head of the Latin America Group, Co-Head of the Public International Law Group, US Head of International Arbitration
London New York Latin America Group

Christian is the Co-Head of the Latin America Group, Co-Head of the Public International Law Group, as well as the US Head of International Arbitration.

Christian has over 25 years' experience specialising in international commercial and investment arbitration and dedicates much of his practice to our clients' interests in Central and South America. He represents corporations and sovereign states across all major industry sectors, and in particular energy (oil & gas, power), mining, engineering, technology, construction, sports and telecommunications.

Christian is recognised as an accomplished advocate and regularly appears before international arbitral tribunals, such as the ICC, LCIA, ICSID, AAA (ICDR) and UNCITRAL. One source describes him as "very responsive, available and diligent," and another adds, "He is amazing in cross-examinations and orally in general. I'm really impressed with him." He has unique expertise in evolving fields of international arbitration, such as his work for a Supermajor oil company in the defense of a sham 'arbitration' for US$18 billion, and successfully prosecuting the first match fixing case in tennis before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

Christian has particular knowledge of the practice of public international law, having successfully represented the Kingdom of Spain, Republic of Costa Rica and other sovereign states, as well as gaining experience at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), Washington, DC. He sits as Co-Chair of the firm's Public International Law Group, with a focus on ESG – having advised multiple clients across the energy and mining sector in Latin America. Chambers Latin America notes that he "is held in high esteem by clients who note 'He's obviously very used to the area and very knowledgeable, so he has a wealth of information at hand.'"  Legal 500 Latin America reports the 'business- and solution-oriented'.

Christian is recognised as Band 1 (US International Arbitration: Enforcement, International Arbitration: Counsel) and Band 2 (US and Latin America: International Arbitration) by Chambers and Partners and ranked as a "Leading Lawyer" by The Legal 500 (US and Latin America).


Christian is fluent in English and Spanish, and is qualified in both England & Wales, and New York. He is the author of the book "International Dispute Resolution in Latin America: An Institutional Overview" (Kluwer Law International), a leading text on the region. He is currently Visiting Professor at Durham University (UK), having also served as Adjunct Professor at NYU School of Law (USA) and Visiting Lecturer at University of Pennsylvania Law School (USA), where he taught international arbitration.

Experience & expertise

Selected matters

  • successfully defending a US Supermajor oil company in a multi-faceted defense of a sham 'arbitration' for US$18 billion
  • successfully defending the Republic of Costa Rica in a CAFTA-DR investor-State claim commenced under the UNCITRAL rules for over US$100 million, regarding various environmental claims
  • successfully defending the Kingdom of Spain in various Energy Charter Treaty investor-State arbitrations under the UNCITRAL Rules (PV Investors) and SCC Rules (Charanne) in what were the first two cases of this kind
  • representing a Supermajor in the pursuit of claims emerging from the LNG sector in the Gulf of Mexico, New York law/seat, ICC Rules
  • representing a major Brazilian corporation in an English law/seat arbitration regarding the construction of oil and gas infrastructure, under the UNCITRAL Rules