Adrian Lifely

Arbitrator
Nationality: British
Languages: English

Adrian Lifely is an Independent Arbitrator specialising in international commercial disputes. With over 30 years' experience of international disputes, he has worked on cases taking place in and/or involving parties across the globe including in particular the UK, Europe, CIS, Middle East, Asia (especially India) and USA.

Prior to joining Arbitra, Adrian was a partner in Osborne Clarke LLP for 25 years where he was Global Chair of the firm’s International Arbitration Group and head of the Commercial Disputes practice in London. Prior to Osborne Clarke, he worked at Herbert Smith Freehills.

Adrian is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators. He has carried out cases under all the main institutional arbitral rules, e.g. LCIA, ICC, SCC, DIS and AAA.

Adrian is an expert in English law, however he also has experience of many cases involving aspects of foreign law.  

Adrian has conducted cases involving many different industry sectors especially: energy & natural resources, finance, infrastructure, media & entertainment, retail, technology & media and transport (e.g. aviation/logistics).

In terms of types of dispute, Adrian's cases have involved: supply of goods & services, shareholder/JV interests, M&A, licensing, outsourcing, software development, partnership, civil fraud, bribery & corruption, franchising, financing, competition/anti-trust, directors duties and professional liability.

Adrian is also a CEDR Accredited Mediator (Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution). He has been involved in numerous successful mediations of all types of disputes. Adrian’s outlook on Mediation is to actively support the parties through the process, encouraging them to look forwards rather than backwards and to focus on the benefits of a deal.

Adrian has handled several very large arbitration in this sector including a EUR 1 billion post-M&A dispute between oil & gas majors (DIS, Germany) and two cases involving the supply of natural resources in the CIS (ICC Zurich (USD 70m) and SCC Stockholm (USD 55m)).

Adrian's cases have involved lending/funding, loan guarantees, credit arrangements, disputes amongst investors in relation to private equity, factoring, civil fraud and barter agreements.

Adrian has experience of representing contractors involved in building major airports in the Middle East including conducting ICC arbitrations relating to defects, costs, overruns and delays. This included appeals to the supreme court regarding calls on performance bonds. He has also conducted a major investigation into bribery & corruption in relation to the procurement of a construction project in the Middle East.

Adrian's practice has focussed on interactive computer games, with disputes involving the development, licensing, promotion and sale.

Adrian has extensive experience of acting for online retailers. He also has acted as counsel for a major UK high street retailer handling their disputes with suppliers. This has resulted in him acting in several major arbitrations in the retail sector. He also represented a leading online retailer in relation to a dispute with its mail service provider and for an online bookseller in relation to a libel claim. He recently carried out an investigation and reported on accounting irregularities for a UK PLC.

Adrian has worked on dispute resolution in the tech & telecoms sector for over 25 years.  These cases have covered the full range of activities in the sector including: software implementation, product/service development, outsourcing, licensing, confidentiality breaches, data privacy and termination of long term contracts. Some of his cases have been 'bet the company', for example a dispute involving licensing rights in a well-known desktop software product and a dispute involving the termination of a project to computerise NHS patient care records(the UK's largest ever IT project). He has also recently represented a supplier of security and air conditioning systems at an international airport.

Adrian has worked in the Transport sector for many years. Recent work includes acting as arbitrator in an LCIA case involving the leasing of aircraft. Other recent work in the sector includes acting in relation to an ICC arbitration relating to the construction of airports in the Middle East (GBP £300m) and advising a UK PLC on its dispute with its logistics provider (£2 billion value dispute).He has also acted for a US aviation manufacturer in relation to allegations of fraudulent supplies of aircraft equipment to a customer in Asia including subsequent report to UK financial authorities

Commercial dispute resolution has been at the core of Adrian's practice all his career. He has worked on all types of dispute over the years including many 'bet the company' cases involving huge sums of money and risk of reputational damage. By way of example, Adrian's 1st arbitration case 20 years ago concerned pricing under a long-term, high value pharmaceutical contract.

Several of Adrian's largest cases have involved claims of civil fraud and asset-freezing injunctions.

Information about some of Adrian's past arbitration cases:

  • LCIA case involving aircraft leasing
  • DIS ( Germany) case: post-M&A dispute between oil & gas majors (EUR 1 billion)
  • ICC case (Switzerland) involving barter arrangements for supplies of natural resources in CIS (value USD 70m)
  • SCC (Stockholm) case regarding termination of a long-term supply contract in the CIS including allegations of fraud (USD 55 million)
  • ICC case involving construction of airports in Middle East (GBP 350m)
  • SCC case concerning construction of a plant in the Middle East (USD 10m)
  • LCIA case: breach of software license dispute involving well known desktop software (value, 'bet the company')
  • LCIA case: breach of financing agreement (USD 180m)
  • LCIA case: claim for breach of directors' duties relating to real estate development in India (USD 250m)
  • Ad hoc, London: shareholder and joint venture dispute (USD 5m)
  • LCIA case: claims under loan agreements against parties operating in the CIS (USD 30m)
  • Insurance coverage dispute (Bermuda): acting for one of the world's largest retailers
  • AAA case (USA): pricing dispute under long-term pharma supply contract
  • Sports arbitration relating to sanctions against an Ice Hockey team in the UK
  • Numerous disputes over corporate finance relating to M&A transactions
  • UK PLC retailer in relation to dispute with supplier of champagne and fine wines
  • US supplier of medical vaccines in dispute with manufacturer
  • Dispute over construction of an oil platform in South America
  • Civil fraud case against former officers of a national bank in Africa
  • Civil fraud case against officers of a bank in the CIS
  • Dispute regarding supplies of petrol in Middle East. SCC (Stockholm) arbitration
  • Dispute re shipments of petrol in Middle East including issues re trade sanctions
  • Dispute re supply of point of sale software to major high street retailer
  • FCIArb, 2012
  • CEDR Accredited Mediator, 2015
  • Solicitor of the Supreme Court of England & Wales, 1986 (now non-practising)
  • Cardiff University LL.B, 1982
  • Fellow of Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (FCIArb)
  • Member of London Chamber of International Arbitration (LCIA)
  • Panel arbitrator, Georgian International Arbitration Center

Adrian has spoken at many conferences about international arbitration and associated topics, including conferences organised by the American Bar Association, Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (London and Dubai), LCIA, ICC, Russian Arbitration Association (Moscow), Legal Counsel Forum (St Petersburg) and Swiss Arbitration Association (ASA Zurich).

Recently, Adrian gave an interview to the Eastern European Dispute Resolution Forum (EEDRF) in which he shared some opinions about arbitration in England:

Adrian has spoken widely about mediation. For example, he chaired the session on mediation at London International Disputes Week (2021). He uses social media to promote use of mediation, for example:

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'a trusted and reliable senior statesman in the arbitration world'.

Legal 500

Adrian Lifely ‘has deep experience and expertise’

Legal 500

Lifely is ‘a very strong arbitration practitioner’.

Legal 500

Adrian Lifely stands out for his work in international fraud cases over the course of over 25 years.

Legal 500

Adrian Lifely is a highly rated practitioner

Legal 500