Karyl Nairn is European co-head of Skadden’s International Litigation and Arbitration Group. She focuses on complex international commercial arbitration and litigation, as well as investment treaty arbitration, acting for governments and corporations across a range of industry sectors, including finance and banking, oil and gas, commodities, 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, Ms. Nairn manages complex cross-border litigation and investigation matters with particular experience in 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 is a member of the LCIA Court.

Recent representative matters include:

  • acting 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;
  • acting as counsel in a series of multibillion-dollar LCIA arbitrations and related BVI proceedings between the shareholders of a leading international telecommunications company;
  • acting as lead partner for Roman Abramovich in his successful defence of the multibillion-dollar proceedings brought against him in the English High Court by Boris Berezovsky;
  • acting as counsel to the Republic of South Sudan in its oil sector negotiations and related international law issues following its secession from the Republic of Sudan, as well as in ICSID proceedings brought by Sudapet Co. Ltd., concerning the disputed ownership of significant oil field interests (disputed amount exceeding US$1 billion). Legal Business named Skadden as its 2017 International Arbitration Team of the Year for the defence of this case;
  • acting as counsel to investors Ron Fuchs and Ioannis Kardassopoulos in ICSID arbitration proceedings against Georgia under the Energy Charter Treaty and two bilateral investment treaties, resulting in a damages award of US$100 million and a landmark precedent concerning the provisional application of that treaty;
  • advising a multinational company in connection with challenges to the validity of an EU directive;
  • acting as counsel for a shareholder group in an UNCITRAL arbitration in London in a multibillion-dollar dispute involving one of the world’s largest telecoms companies;
  • advising a French company in proceedings before the English Court of Appeal concerning directors’ duties under Section 423 of the Insolvency Act 1986;
  • acting as global coordinating counsel in relation to a dispute between a Middle Eastern media company and a football associate;
  • advising a leading industrial designer in a multi-jurisdictional dispute involving IP rights and managerial issues;
  • acting as arbitrator in an ICC arbitration in Singapore involving a dispute arising out of a major acquisition in India; and
  • acting as counsel in an ICSID arbitration brought against the government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.

Ms. Nairn is ranked in the top tier of “leading individuals” for international arbitration in Chambers UK, and is recommended in Chambers Europe and Chambers Global. The Legal 500 named her to its U.K. Hall of Fame 2018 and has described 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 in 2007, was shortlisted for “Most Innovative Lawyer of the Year” by the Financial Times and was highly ranked in the Chambers 100 list of the top 100 lawyers in the U.K.



  • 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)
  • 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 American Bar Association
  • 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