Karyl Nairn QC

Karyl Nairn QC

Partner, International Litigation and Arbitration

Karyl Nairn is co-head of Skadden’s Global International Litigation and Arbitration Group. She focuses on complex international commercial arbitration and litigation, as well as investment treaty arbitration, while acting for governments and corporations across a range of industry sectors, including finance and banking, oil and gas, mining, pharmaceuticals and telecommunications.


Ms. Nairn regularly is appointed as counsel or arbitrator in complex international disputes in cases conducted under the auspices of leading international arbitral institutions. In addition to her advocacy work in arbitrations, she manages complex cross-border litigation and investigation matters, both in England and offshore jurisdictions, with a particular focus on joint venture/shareholder issues and disputes arising out of complex M&A transactions.

Ms. Nairn served as a member of the ICC International Court of Arbitration from 1999 to 2015, including as a vice president. She is a member of the ICC Commission on Arbitration and currently serves on the Appointments Committee of ICC Australia. She has been a member of the LCIA Court since 2016 and was appointed as a vice president in 2019.

Recent representative matters as counsel include:

  • acting as lead counsel for NextEra Energy Global Holdings BV and NextEra Energy Spain Holdings BV in the successful prosecution of ICSID claims under the Energy Charter Treaty arising out of changes to Spanish law in the renewable energy sector;
  • advising a company and former directors in proceedings before the U.K. Supreme Court concerning the scope of directors’ duties under English law;
  • acting as lead counsel in a series of multibillion-dollar LCIA arbitrations and related British Virgin Islands proceedings between the shareholders of a major mobile telecommunications company;
  • representing a group of trustee companies in connection with multibillion-dollar claims brought in an offshore jurisdiction;
  • acting as lead counsel for the Republic of South Sudan in ICSID proceedings brought by Sudapet Co. Ltd. concerning the disputed ownership of significant oil field interests;
  • advising a multinational company in connection with follow-on damages claims in the English Court arising out of cartel allegations;
  • acting as lead counsel for a shareholder group in an UNCITRAL arbitration in London in a multibillion-dollar dispute involving one of the world’s largest telecommunications companies;
  • acting as global coordinating counsel in relation to an arbitration in Turkey between a Middle Eastern media company and a sporting association; and
  • advising a leading industrial designer in connection with U.S. and English Court proceedings involving IP and contract claims.

Recent appointments as an arbitrator include sitting:

  • in an ICC arbitration arising out of the acquisition of a pharmaceuticals business (Singapore seat);
  • in a matter arising out of a mining concession (London seat);
  • in connection with a gas pricing dispute (London seat); and
  • in connection with a gas pricing dispute (Singapore seat).

Ms. Nairn is ranked in the top tier of “leading individuals” for international arbitration in Chambers Global, Chambers Europe and Chambers UK. She also has repeatedly been named to Best Lawyers in the UK for her arbitration work, in addition to The Legal 500 recognizing her in its U.K. Hall of Fame, describing her as being “in a league of her own.” Ms. Nairn was named one of the 50 Most Influential Women in Law by Legal Business magazine and was highly ranked in the Chambers 100 list of the top 100 lawyers in the U.K. She also was recognized as a 2021 Litigation Star for U.K. - International Arbitration by Benchmark Litigation, named to the Who’s Who Legal: Arbitration 2021 Global Leaders list and included in Lawdragon’s inaugural Global Litigation 500 list in 2021.



  • B.Juris, (Honors) University of Western Australia
  • L.L.B., (Honors) University of Western Australia
  • L.L.M., University of London


  • Solicitor, England & Wales (1991)
  • Western Australia
  • Queen’s Counsel (2013)
  • Barrister and Solicitor of the Supreme Court of Western Australia (1988) and the Federal and High Court of Australia (1989)


  • The Law Society of England and Wales
  • The Law Council of Australia
  • The British Institute of International and Comparative Law
  • The International Bar Association
  • Court Member, The London Court of International Arbitration
  • The American Arbitration Association
  • Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators
  • Member, Editorial Board, Arbitration International
  • Member, ICC Commission on Arbitration
  • Chair, Development Board, JUSTICE
  • Member, Advisory Council, SIAC

Karyl Nairn QC

Partner, International Litigation and Arbitration