Melanie is Managing Partner of the London office and Head of International Arbitration for Andrews Kurth. She focuses her practice on international arbitration and is experienced in all forms of alternative dispute resolution (expert determination, mediation, adjudication and so forth). She has extensive experience in ad hoc proceedings and the major international rules, such as ICC, LCIA, UNCITRAL, ICSID and standard form contract rules. She also represents clients in court in the UK, and sits as an arbitrator.
Melanie acts for clients in a wide range of industries, including engineering, energy, construction, rail, infrastructure/transport, hotels, retail, property development, banking and finance, technology and insurance. She has particular experience in contractual disputes arising from energy, major projects and engineering matters. She has advised clients on international projects in the Middle East, Asia, India and Africa in relation to foreign investments, power plants, renewable energy, desalination plants, petrochemical plants, oil rigs, pipelines, hotels, roads/highways, hospitals, transport and government projects to name a few.
- Represented a major Japanese contractor in an ICC arbitration arising out of the construction of a petrochemicals plant in Northern England. The case involved claims for the cost of additional works, delay claims (including prolongation) and disruption claims.
- Successfully represented a large European contractor against a Kuwaiti government body in a Paris-based UNCITRAL arbitration concerning a project in Algiers. The work included defending challenges to arbitrators and an appeal to the International Court at The Hague.
- Acting for an international hotel operator in ICC arbitration proceedings concerning a luxury hotel in Madagascar, as regards compliance with brand standards and health and safety requirements.
- Advised a Japanese contractor in a multi-party mediation arising out of claims regarding a Saudi Arabian power project. The matter was successfully settled.
- Advised on an issue of stress-cracking on the blades of a wind turbine in a wind farm in Portugal.
- Advised on design and workmanship claims due to a damaged pipeline network, including an underwater section and associated cabling.
- Advising an international hotel operator in a dispute concerning unlawful termination of a management agreement for a new-build hotel in Moscow serving an international airport in Moscow, subject to ICC arbitration.
- Conducted a large scale mediation in connection with liability for faults in a new design single point mooring buoy.
- Advised the world's largest rail manufacturer in connection with a long-term contract for upgrade and improvement works on rail infrastructure and facilities in a major European capital. Interim claims were valued at £40 million.
- Conducted an expert determination, concerning rights to hydrocarbons, on the consideration adjustment necessary in a purchase of North Sea interests.
- Acted for an English/Lebanese joint venture on an ICC arbitration relating to the construction of an Egyptian “new town.”
- Acting in an ICC arbitration concerning the termination of a luxury resort hotel subject to a long-term management agreement, for one of the largest international hotel operators.
- Advised client on contentious issues in PFI contracts, in connection with the mechanism for measuring performance and the impact of remuneration due to the contractor.
- Acted on several large scale adjudications in connection with disputes in relation to the construction of the M6 motorway.
- Represented an international hotel chain in an ICC arbitration concerning health and safety issues and the duties of the property owner under the hotel management agreement in connection with a substantial African hotel.
- ‘Representations and Warranties’ Made Clear - Guaranteed! The Arbiter (Fall 2016)
- Anti-Oral Variation Clauses: A Written Analysis The Arbiter (Summer 2016)
- Keep Calm and Carry On Arbitrating: The Latest on Apparent Bias in Arbitration The Arbiter (Spring 2016)
- Pathetically Pathological – a Stumble Through the Maze of Dispute Resolution Clauses The Arbiter (Winter 2015)
- Arbitration in China - A Practitioner’s Guide, Wolters Kluwer Law and Business (September 2015)
- ICSID Arbitrators - The World’s Policemen? The Arbiter (Fall 2015)
- Pleadings: Please, Please Tell Me Now, Is There Something I Should Know? The Arbiter (Spring 2015)
- Witnesses Say the Funniest Things The Arbiter (Fall 2014)
- English Law – A Love Letter The Arbiter (Summer 2014)
- That’s A Relief (Interim): The English Court’s Approach In Arbitrations The Arbiter (Spring 2014)
- Away from the Manger: Disqualification of Arbitrators The Arbiter (Winter 2013)
- Excalibur Remains Firmly Lodged In The Stone The Arbiter (Fall 2013)
- Good Faith - the London Look The Arbiter (Summer 2013)
- Cooke Does Not Spoil Broth The Arbiter (Spring 2013)
- No Elves for Santa The Arbiter (Winter 2012)
- Look After your Arbitrator: Yet More Reasons for Choosing the Seat Carefully The Arbiter, (Summer 2012)
- ICSID Bumps in the Road: Questions of (Pre)Judgment? The Arbiter (Spring 2012)
- "UK: Arbitrability—Are We Moving the Goalposts?," Global Arbitration Review, January 16, 2012
- ‘Good King Wenceslas Walked Out - and the Kingdom was Split in Two’ - State Succession and Bilateral Investment Treaties The Arbiter (Winter 2011)
- Guarantees - A Reminder of How Much Fun They Are The Arbiter (Fall 2011)
- Commercial Arbitration Awards - Are they Investments, Protected under International Law? The Arbiter (Summer 2011)
- Dallah v Pakistan - French Courts Uphold the Award The Arbiter (Spring 2011)
- ‘Catching the Quango’ - State Responsibility for Actions of Public Bodies The Arbiter (Winter 2010)
- Discrimination in Arbitration Clauses The Arbiter (Fall 2010)
- "Investment Treaty Arbitration—A Nutshell," Construction News, August 12, 2010
- Reform of the UK’s Anti-Bribery Laws Through the Bribery Act 2010 The Arbiter (Summer 2010)
- Contractual Interpretation - A Fresh Perspective The Arbiter (Spring 2010)
- "How Bribery Can Affect Business," Construction Week, April 2009
- Chapter on Arbitration, Architects Handbook, Reed Elsevier 2009 Edition
- Chapter on Procedure, International Commercial Arbitration, Kluwer Law International (Volume II), 2009 Edition
In The News
- Featured in "Q&A With Andrews Kurth's Melanie Willems," Law360 (April 13, 2016)
- How to Manage Your International Arbitration Counsel, Beijing Arbitration Commission (April 20, 2016)
- "I Agreed To What? The Perils of Standard Arbitration and Indemnity Clauses," Andrews Kurth Executive Women’s Retreat (October 2015)
- The Special Relationship: Why English Law is Still One of Your Best Friends in International Disputes (January 27, 2015)
- “Third Party Funding – Pitfalls and Caveats,” Queen Mary University, London, 2014
- “Third Parties in International Arbitration,” IBA Annual Conference, Boston, 2013
- “Future Challenges,” IBA International Women’s Day Conference, 2013
- "Contractual Interpretation—Plus ça Change" (with Lord Hoffmann), Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, 2010
- "Third Party Funding—The Hand that Giveth Also Taketh Away," Society of Construction Arbitrators, 2009
- "Possible Consequences of Failing to Mediate," Client seminar, 2008
- "Arbitrating Competition Law Issues," Client seminar, 2008
- Profiled as one of the leading Dispute Resolution: International Arbitration lawyers in London, The Legal 500 UK (2015-2016)
- Best Lawyers United Kingdom, International Arbitration (2015-2017)
- Recognized as a London Super Lawyer, Super Lawyers (2013-2015)
- Top 50 Women London Lawyers, Super Lawyers (2013-2015)
- Top 100 London Lawyers, Super Lawyers (2013-2015)
- Profiled as one of the leading International Arbitration lawyers in London (2009-2016), Chambers & Partners UK: A Client's Guide to the UK Legal Profession
- Profiled as one of the leading solicitors in the UK (2010, 2012, 2013, 2014), The Legal 500
- Profiled as leading practitioner (2009), Global Arbitration Review
- Profiled as one of the top 100 lawyers in London (2013, 2014, 2015), Thomson Reuters
- Profiled as one of the top 50 female lawyers in London (2013, 2014, 2015), Thomson Reuters
- Alternative Energy
- Clean Technology
- Health Care
- Hospitality and Hotels
- Life Sciences
- Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG)
- Natural Gas
- Oil and Gas
- Solar Energy
- State Regulatory
- Wind Energy
- Central Asia/China
- Commercial Litigation
- Construction Litigation
- Energy Disputes and Litigation
- International Arbitration
- Latin America/Caribbean
- Litigation and Dispute Resolution
- Middle East
- Oil and Gas Disputes
- South Asia/India
- MSc, 1993, King's College, London
- LLB, 1989, King's College, London
- Maitrise in Law, 1989, Université de Paris I (the Sorbonne)
- England & Wales (Solicitor) 1992
- Solicitor Advocate (Higher Rights Civil) 2000
- Qualified arbitrator, mediator and adjudicator
- Solicitor, Advocate of the Supreme Court of England and Wales, 2000-present (Higher Rights Civil)
- Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators and Committee Member of the London Branch, 2007-present
- Committee/Arbitrator Member of the Society of Construction Arbitrators, President of the Society, 2016/2017
- Member of Arbitral Women
- Member of ICC
- Member of LCIA
- Member of IBA
- Panel Member (Arbitrator and Mediator) for the Sports Dispute Resolution Board (to 2015)
- 9/15/2016Andrews Kurth Recognized in 2016 Legal 500 UK Guide
- 8/29/2016Andrews Kurth Elects 2016-2017 Policy Committee
- 11/2/2015Andrews Kurth Recognized in 2016 Chambers UK Guide
- 9/23/2015Andrews Kurth Lawyers Named in 2015 London Super Lawyers/Rising Stars
- 9/17/2015Andrews Kurth Recognized in 2015 Legal 500 UK Guide