For nearly four decades, Steve Smith has focused his practice on international arbitration of complex, high-stakes disputes in a range of industries. He has worked extensively in the energy, oil and gas, infrastructure, mining, chemical, and biotech fields and has significant experience resolving cross-border licensing, distribution, and joint venture disputes. He has been the lead advocate for clients in both ad hoc and institutional arbitrations, including under the UNCITRAL, ICC, LCIA, ICDR, and SIAC Rules, and has handled matters involving sovereign entities from five different continents, including before the Iran-U.S. Claims Tribunal. He regularly serves as an arbitrator.
Recognized as one of the world's leading international arbitration lawyers in many notable directories, Steve has been described by Chambers Global and other publications as "a truly outstanding advocate whose written product and oral advocacy simply astound"; a "masterful advocate who can put together mesmerizing arguments"; and a "first-class advocate," who is "ferociously well-prepared" and a "master strategist." He also has received distinguished awards in recognition of his legal achievements in international law and dispute resolution.
Steve was, for many years, a Lecturer in Law at Stanford Law School, where he taught international commercial arbitration. He is also a frequent author on international arbitration issues and speaks regularly at conferences around the world.
Steve is a past chair of the ABA's International Arbitration Committee and a current member of the ICC Commission on Arbitration in Paris and the Singapore International Arbitration Centre Users Council. He is also a former chair of the International Law Section of the State Bar of California.
The following represents a small sample of experience acquired prior to joining Jones Day.
Lead counsel for Duke Energy Corporation in a major UNCITRAL arbitration in London that arose when Sonatrach, the Algerian state-owned energy company, stopped delivering liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Duke under their long-term contracts. The parties asserted numerous claims against one another under English law, with Sonatrach seeking US$2.65 billion in damages as a result of Duke's alleged breach of its obligation to develop a U.S. market for Sonatrach's LNG, while Duke sought US$27 million as a result of Sonatrach's failure to meet its LNG shipping obligations. After nearly six years of arbitration and several separate multiweek hearings, the tribunal issued an award rejecting Sonatrach's damages claim and granted a large recovery to Duke.
Lead counsel for Occidental Petroleum Corporation and an affiliated company in an arbitration in London under the Rules of the International Center for Dispute Resolution concerning disputes governed by, inter alia, English law arising from the affiliate's sale of assets in Nigeria. After an evidentiary hearing in Madrid, Spain, the tribunal issued an award in Oxy's favor dismissing all of the claimant's claims.
Lead counsel for a major U.S. food/beverage company in a dispute over the licensor's purported termination of the client's multibillion dollar Yoplait yogurt business in the U.S. The dispute was governed by French law and subject to ICC arbitration in New York.
Lead counsel for a U.S. investor controlled Mexican trust in an ICC arbitration involving a dispute between joint venture partners that derailed their US$250 million resort development project in Mexico. The liability phase of the arbitration concluded with an award in the client's favor, and the ensuing damages phase culminated in an evidentiary hearing in New York. In 2007, the parties entered into a confidential settlement agreement that allowed the client to take the project forward alone.
Co-lead counsel for Lockheed Martin Corporation in its successful defense of an ICC arbitration brought by the Republic of Korea to recover approximately US$45 million for alleged breach of contract, fraud, and unjust enrichment in connection with a contract to supply military aircraft. The tribunal cleared Lockheed Martin of any wrongdoing and awarded it a substantial portion of its attorneys' fees and costs.
Lead counsel for a U.S. investor in its dispute under CAFTA and the U.S.-Honduran BIT with the Republic of Honduras over the government's treatment of the investor's sizeable investment in the country's electricity sector.
Lead counsel for a U.S. pharmaceutical company in arbitration in Zurich, Switzerland, under the rules of the German Institute of Arbitration (DIS), in which a German company sought to terminate a drug development and license agreement between the parties.
Lead counsel for a U.S. chemical company in an ICC arbitration in which the Mexican partner sought indemnification for the joint venture's exposure to criminal and civil antitrust liability in North America and Europe resulting from the client's sales activities on behalf of the joint venture. After extensive briefing and a hearing on the client's application for summary disposition, the tribunal issued a partial award dismissing all but two of the claimants' 15 claims, including those seeking nearly all of claimants' damages. The case quickly settled without any payment from the client.
Lead counsel for Cargill in a NAFTA chapter 11 arbitration against Mexico under ICSID's Additional Facility Rules. Cargill sought substantial damages on claims of expropriation and denial of national treatment, among others, all arising from a discriminatory tax measure designed to promote Mexico's sugar industry.
Lead counsel for Mitsubishi Corporation in an ICC arbitration in Los Angeles, California arising from the parties' license and distribution agreements. After extensive evidentiary hearings, the tribunal issued a final award in Mitsubishi's favor, dismissing claimant's trade secret and related claims seeking approximately US$40 million in damages, and awarding Mitsubishi a broad injunction and more than US$8 million in damages, attorneys' fees, and costs on Mitsubishi's counterclaims for copyright infringement and breach of contract.
Lead counsel for HBO Asia in an ICC arbitration against its Taiwanese distributor involving contractual disputes and damages of more than US$26 million as well as separate judicial and regulatory proceedings in Taiwan. After HBO Asia obtained an expedited partial award determining that it had lawfully terminated the parties' distribution agreement, the arbitration and related proceedings settled favorably for the client.
Lead counsel for a Japanese manufacturer in Zimmern v. Mitsui Seiki Kogyo Co. Ltd., an ICC arbitration in Paris, France in which Mitsui Seiki defeated trade secret claims seeking US$10 million in damages and an injunction that would have closed one of the company's main businesses.
Lead counsel for a Japanese corporation in J. D. Lincoln, Inc. v. Nippon Steel Chemical Co., Ltd., an arbitration under the International Rules of the American Arbitration Association concerning an US$18 million claim for breach of a contract to supply manufactured items to the Japanese market. The matter settled favorably prior to the hearing.
Lead counsel for a Japanese chemical company in federal court litigation and related arbitration before the Japan Commercial Arbitration Association in Osaka, concerning a patent-license dispute with a U.S. company. The Japanese company was ultimately successful in enforcing its patent rights, obtaining both a court enforced consent decree against future use of the patented technology and the payment of substantial back royalties.
Lead counsel for a U.S. energy company concerning disputes with Pertamina, the Indonesian state-owned energy company, arising from Pertamina's failure to meet its U.S. dollar-denominated payment obligations for geothermal energy in the aftermath of the Asian financial crisis and the devaluation of the Indonesian Rupiah.
Counsel for a U.S. mining equipment manufacturer in ICC arbitration in which the Australian respondent asserted antitrust counterclaims seeking nearly US$2 billion in damages. The client defeated those counterclaims in their entirety and received an award of costs and attorneys' fees of approximately US$8 million.
Counsel for a U.S. commodities trader in two ad hoc arbitrations in Stockholm against a Russian state-owned entity involving a series of claims under a uranium-supply contract. The client prevailed on all claims in both arbitrations, establishing its entitlement to purchase optional quantities of enriched uranium at contract prices well below the market prices demanded by the seller, thereby eliminating a US$1 billion exposure.
Counsel for a French manufacturer in a major ICC arbitration, Thomson-CSF v. Gould Inc., involving various disputes with an American subcontractor on a US$4.5 billion military procurement program, including the subcontractor's claim for a US$114 million equitable adjustment in the fixed contract price. Thomson-CSF defeated that claim and obtained a US$21 million award in its favor.
Counsel for a major oil industry construction and services firm in arbitration before the U.S.-Iran Claims Tribunal under the UNCITRAL arbitration rules against the government of Iran and the National Iranian Oil Company for expropriation of property and breach of state contract.
Lead counsel for an English computer company in an ICC arbitration involving a dispute under a contract for the development of network computers.
Sole arbitrator in an ICC arbitration involving a U.S. company's termination of its Chinese distributor.
Sole arbitrator in an ICC arbitration involving a complex dispute between joint venture partners over the financing and development of their U.S. business.
Sole arbitrator in an ICC arbitration between Italian and U.S. surfing apparel companies arising from the collapse of their American joint venture.
Sole arbitrator in an ICC arbitration between U.S. and Canadian companies concerning a dispute under their exclusive distribution and marketing agreement for a dietary supplement.
Sole arbitrator in an ICC arbitration between Japanese and American biotechnology companies concerning a dispute under a license agreement.
Sole arbitrator in an UNCITRAL arbitration of a patent license dispute between a California company and a Japanese-American joint venture.
Party-appointed arbitrator on a three-member panel in an ICC arbitration involving a dispute under the agreement to commercialize biotechnology patents relating to a method to optically read the human genome.
Chair of a three-member tribunal in an ICC arbitration involving termination of a distribution agreement between a U.S. medical device manufacturer and a Greek distributor.
Lead counsel for Bechtel, Edison S.p.A., and their affiliated project company in a dispute with the Republic of Ecuador over a 30-year water and sewage concession for a large municipality. The dispute gave rise to litigation in the United States. A court order was successfully obtained blocking Ecuador from drawing down on a letter of credit that served as a performance bond under the parties' concession contract. With the blocking order in place, the project company initiated a dispute resolution under the concession contract, including mediation followed by an ICC arbitration in Miami.
Co-lead counsel for Duke Energy Corporation in a federal court litigation in Houston, Texas against Citrus Trading Corp. over Duke's termination of the parties' long-term contract for the purchase by Citrus of Algerian LNG. Duke terminated the parties' contract for Citrus' alleged breach, and Citrus counterclaimed for damages of approximately US$200 million on the ground that the termination was allegedly unlawful. The case settled for a fraction of the amount Citrus had sought.
Lead counsel coordinating the investigation and prosecution of claims against the perpetrators of a massive fraud directed at the world's largest solar panel manufacturer. The matter involved managing a complex civil fraud action in London under English law, a receivership action in Singapore, criminal proceedings in Italy, and regulatory proceedings in Luxembourg.
Lead counsel for Dainippon Screen Manufacturing Company and affiliates in patent infringement litigation against Scitex Corporation, an Israeli company, that involved six patents concerning three different technologies in the graphic arts and digital publishing fields. The case, which was approaching trial in federal court, was submitted to mediation/arbitration before the WIPO International Arbitration Center in Geneva, Switzerland, which was the center's first matter. The mediation/arbitration led to a settlement favorable to Dainippon Screen.
Counsel for the Kuwaiti government in Computer Firmware Systems, Inc. v. The State of Kuwait, a case in which Kuwait defeated claims arising from an alleged program to diversify the country's economy by establishing a computer industry in that country.
Lead counsel for a Taiwanese bicycle components manufacturer in its successful defense against claims for patent, trademark, and trade dress infringement.
Co-lead counsel for the Royal Automobile Club in London and related English companies and their directors in the successful defense of a class action lawsuit brought in Los Angeles superior court seeking US$90 million in damages on claims arising under English law from the £450 million sale of a related motoring services company. In addition to the California class action, the plaintiffs brought a parallel representative action in the English high court, requiring close coordination in the handling of the two actions.
Lead counsel in the successful defense of the U.S. subsidiary of a Korean conglomerate in a federal court action brought by a Malaysian company for breach of contract under English law.
Counsel for 10 motion picture studios and their trade association in an antitrust action brought by would be American dual-deck VCR manufacturer against the Japanese and Korean electronics industries and the U.S. motion picture industry (Go-Video v. Motion Picture Association of America, et al.).
Counsel for a defendant oil company in a case establishing that there is no Foreign Corrupt Practices Act exception to the Act of State doctrine.
Lead counsel for NEC Corporation in an ITC proceeding brought by Rambus seeking an order excluding, among other things, certain SDRAMs and microprocessors from entering the United States.
Counsel for intervenor Advanced Micro Devices in an ITC proceeding in which Intel sought an order to exclude Taiwanese computers using AMD microprocessors from entering the United States on the ground that they infringed an Intel patent. The ITC terminated the proceeding against Intel with a ruling in AMD's favor.
Counsel for IBM in an ITC proceeding based on allegations that certain IBM disk drives infringed patents owned by Conner Peripherals. The matter successfully settled as part of a global settlement.
Litigating International Disputes in Federal Courts, Business and Commercial Litigation in Federal Courts (4th Ed.)
Enforcing Agreements to Arbitrate, International Arbitration in the United States, Kluwer Law International, pp. 189-208
International Arbitration, The International Lawyer, Vol. 48, p. 119
International Arbitration, The International Lawyer, Vol. 47, p. 115
Publications Prior to Jones Day
Enforcement of International Arbitral Awards, Practitioner’s Handbook on International Arbitration and Mediation, pp. 283-364
International Commercial Arbitration in Japan, Practitioner’s Handbook on International Arbitration and Mediation, pp. 853 - 96
International Commercial Dispute Resolution, The International Lawyer, Vol. 46, p. 13
International Arbitration, The International Lawyer, Vol. 45, p. 95
International Commercial Dispute Resolution, The International Lawyer, Vol. 44, p. 113
International Commercial Dispute Resolution, The International Lawyer, Vol. 43, p. 443
International Commercial Dispute Resolution, The International Lawyer, Vol. 42, p. 383
Advocacy and Tactics in International Commercial Arbitration, California International Practitioner, Vol. 5, p. 64
Badger Revisited: Implications for the Implementation of the Transfer of Technology Code, International Tax & Business. Law, Vol. 1, p. 117
- March 6, 2014
2014 International Arbitration Seminar - Tokyo
- University of California, Berkeley (J.D. 1983; Founder and Editor-in-Chief, International Tax & Business Lawyer); Cambridge University, England (LL.M. with honors 1986; LL.B. 1981; M. Phil. in History of International Relations 1979); University of Pennsylvania (B.A. in History cum laude 1978)
- California and District of Columbia
Received the 2014 Riesenfeld Award from U.C. Berkeley School of Law in recognition of his outstanding contributions to the field of international law
Received the 2008 California Lawyer of the Year (CLAY) Award for extraordinary achievement in alternative dispute resolution