Justin Michaelson

Justin Michaelson

  • Partner
  • Litigation
  • London
  • T:   +44.20.7972.6270
  • F:   +44.20.7972.9602
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Justin Michaelson is a dispute resolution partner resident in Fried Frank's London office. He is a dual qualified barrister and solicitor advocate. He has extensive experience in major international commercial disputes and has appeared before many international commercial arbitral tribunals, both institutional and ad hoc, in disputes covering a wide variety of jurisdictions, and sectors, including oil and gas, real estate, software technology, metals, telecoms, private equity and major projects.

He regularly acts for clients in the Commercial Court division of the High Court of England and Wales and has significant experience seeking orders from the Court under the Arbitration Act 1996 and preliminary relief in support of foreign proceedings under the Civil Jurisdiction and Judgments Act 1992.  He has recently been involved in several high-profile freezing injunctions cases, both as claimant/applicant and defendant/respondent. In addition, Mr. Michaelson has a significant amount of experience of representing high net worth individuals in substantial politically motivated commercial disputes.

Examples of his recent experience include acting for:
  • A high-net-worth individual in connection with proceedings in several jurisdictions, including England, Russia and France, concerning claims to the value of US$2.3 billion and counterclaims exceeding US$3 billion.
  • A high net-worth individual in connection with proceedings in the British Virgin Islands, Russia, Cyprus and LCIA arbitration concerning disputed facility agreements and other financial instruments to the value exceeding US$100 million.
  • A high net-worth tech entrepreneur in a shareholder dispute over a valuable social network company in Russia, valued at over US$2 billion. The case involved LCIA arbitration proceedings and related proceedings in the BVI and New York, and was settled in an agreement worth US$1.7 billion.
  • The successful Applicants in a Worldwide Freezing Order in Cyprus, and a Freezing Injunction Order issued by the English Court that combined domestic freezing relief with worldwide ancillary disclosure in a dispute valued at US$120 million. 
  • A Cyprus-incorporated entity enforcing Guarantees and Facility Agreements through LCIA arbitrations, securing total Awards in excess of US$125 million.
  • The successful Applicant to a Worldwide Freezing Order issued by the English High Court to the value of US$265 million arising out of claims for wilful default, breach of fiduciary duty and breach of contract.
  • An Indian real estate portfolio management company in relation to a US$200 million LCIA arbitration brought by hedge funds and the board of the plc investing in real estate projects in India, which also involved connected proceedings in Singapore, Mauritius and India.
  • The successful Respondents Marshall Capital and Konstantin Malofeev in the VTB v Nutritek & Others cases; reported at  [2011] EWHC 3107 (High Court);   [2012] EWHC Civ 808 (Court of Appeal); and [2013] UKSC 5 (Supreme Court).  The Respondents successfully overturned ex parte interim injunctive relief on three separate grounds (no risk of dissipation; material non-disclosure; and no jurisdiction) and succeeded in a substantive jurisdiction challenge, which involved novel arguments relating to piercing the corporate veil.
  • A Russian telecoms company in the long-running MegaFon dispute relating to a disputed 25.1% stake in the company worth over US$3 billion. The proceedings involved arbitrations, litigations and connected investigations in Zurich, Geneva, England, New York, Sweden, Moscow, Germany, Denmark and Cyprus.  The proceedings included ICC arbitration in Geneva and an ad hoc arbitration in Zurich.
  • A high-net-worth individual in the enforcement of judgments from Liechtenstein in excess of US$100 million in the BVI.
  • A Russian telecoms company in enforcement proceedings relating to a US$230 million Award involving related proceedings in England, Luxembourg and the Seychelles.
  • A leading software technology company in ad hoc arbitration proceedings, relating to an alleged breach of licence and damages in the sum of US$90 million.
  • A leading private equity firm and the principal founding partner in relation to allegations of fraudulent misrepresentation and conspiracy in a claim worth over US$330 million.
  • A leading private equity midmarket fund of funds in LCIA arbitration over US$100 million of unpaid placement agent fees.
  • A leading hedge fund firm in a dispute over unpaid substantial bonuses brought by a former partner. The allegations concerned the interpretation of a termination clause for bonus remuneration.
  • The Russian subsidiary of a major metals and manufacturing company in respect of a contract dispute with the Russian subsidiary of a British-based consumer packaging company, involving LCIA arbitration.
  • A Bulgarian technology company in a highly confidential ICC arbitration against a Guernsey company, which is an affiliate of VTB Capital plc,
  • An investment company in a US$145+ million LCIA arbitration against PJSC VTB Bank, the second largest bank in Russia.
Mr. Michaelson's practice also encompasses major Commercial Court litigation with an international connection. He has been instructed on a number of Worldwide Freezing Orders, both for the Claimant and the Respondent.

Over the past few years Mr. Michaelson has been involved in some of the leading cases involving corruption in Russia and former CIS countries arising out of accelerated loans; sales at an undervalue in bank realization programs; state-tolerated commercial pressure and other means of extracting value from legitimate commercial enterprises.

Honors & Awards

Mr. Michaelson is consistently recommended for commercial litigation and international arbitration in various publications, including Chambers UK (“a very determined, dogged arbitration specialist”), Legal 500 UK (“a lawyer in his own league”), The Lawyer, Superlawyers and Who’s Who Legal. Chambers UK 2019 market commentators noted “Mr. Michaelson as ‘a tremendous lawyer who is very concentrated on the matter at hand.’”
In addition, the London Disputes Group is consistently recognized by Legal 500 UK in commercial litigation and international arbitration, which in its 2019 edition identifies the practice as being “commercial and responsive” with a quality of legal advice that is “second to none.” Legal 500 UK has also noted the “strong practice that is very joined up internationally, enabling it to handle large multi-jurisdictional matters.”

The Fried Frank International Arbitration Practice is consistently included in Global Arbitration Review's Top 100 International Arbitration law firms globally.

Mr. Michaelson has published a number of articles in legal journals, including the New Law Journal, the Solicitors Journal and Legal Week.  He also speaks regularly on arbitration issues, including events by the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators. Mr. Michaelson received a double first from the University of Leeds and was awarded the Eversheds Award for Commercial Law, the Batt Prize for Criminal Law, the Hughes Scholarship Award, the Margaret Harrison Award for Jurisprudence and the Sweet & Maxwell Prize.  Mr. Michaelson also received the Hardwicke Entrance Award and the Wolfson Scholarship from Lincoln’s Inn. He is a member of the London Court of International Arbitration, the International Bar Association, the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, the Law Society of England & Wales, the Honourable Society of Lincoln’s Inn and The Arbitration Club.

Mr. Michaelson received his Bar Vocational Diploma from Inns of Court School of Law in 1997 and his LLB from University of Leeds in 1996.

Professional Associations

Member, London Court of International Arbitration
Member, International Bar Association
Member, Chartered Institute of Arbitrators
Member, Law Society of England & Wales
Member, Honourable Society of Lincoln's Inn
Member, The Arbitration Club

Bar Admissions/Licensed Jurisdictions

England & Wales