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Elliot E. Polebaum

  • Retired Partner

Washington, DC

T: +1.202.639.7067

Headshot of Elliot E. Polebaum

Elliot E. Polebaum established and led Fried Frank's International Arbitration practice group for more than twenty-five years while a partner in the firm. He now acts as an independent arbitrator in international cases, and is ranked in Band 1 in the category of International Arbitrators by Chambers USA.  He is also ranked in Chambers’ Global: Global Market Leaders in the category of International Arbitration: Most in Demand Arbitrators.

His experience as arbitrator includes appointments in both administered and ad hoc cases, including disputes between US and Indian pharmaceutical companies, US and English pharmaceutical companies, Japanese and Spanish pharmaceutical companies, Japanese and Korean semiconductor manufacturers,  Chinese, Irish and US software companies, European and US aerospace companies, German and US defense contractors, Dutch, English and Korean parties to a major energy project in the Mideast, US and French biotech companies, and Singaporean and Dutch companies ari...

Elliot E. Polebaum established and led Fried Frank's International Arbitration practice group for more than twenty-five years while a partner in the firm. He now acts as an independent arbitrator in international cases, and is ranked in Band 1 in the category of International Arbitrators by Chambers USA.  He is also ranked in Chambers’ Global: Global Market Leaders in the category of International Arbitration: Most in Demand Arbitrators.

His experience as arbitrator includes appointments in both administered and ad hoc cases, including disputes between US and Indian pharmaceutical companies, US and English pharmaceutical companies, Japanese and Spanish pharmaceutical companies, Japanese and Korean semiconductor manufacturers,  Chinese, Irish and US software companies, European and US aerospace companies, German and US defense contractors, Dutch, English and Korean parties to a major energy project in the Mideast, US and French biotech companies, and Singaporean and Dutch companies arising out of contracts for the construction of drilling rigs. He also acted as emergency arbitrator in a dispute among Dutch, German and Japanese parties. He has been appointed as presiding arbitrator, co-arbitrator, or sole arbitrator in nearly 100 international arbitrations.

While a partner in the firm, Elliot appeared as counsel before tribunals throughout the world in more than 140 international cases. These included representing an investor in an ICSID arbitration against the Government of Uganda; a large French company in an ICC arbitration in Geneva against a South American company in a dispute over ownership of an ICSID claim against the government of a country in South America; a large Italian company in an ICDR arbitration in Houston against a US company in the energy sector; an African exploration and production company in an ICC arbitration in London against the Government of Sierra Leone following the cancellation of offshore leases; a European manufacturer of satellites in an ICDR arbitration in New York arising out of a contract for the design and supply of a constellation of satellites to a US based customer; a European aerospace company in an ICC arbitration in New York arising out of an agreement for the supply of airframe components; the international owners of a large industrial project in a Middle Eastern country against an international engineering firm in an UNCITRAL arbitration in London; a French claimant in an UNCITRAL arbitration in Geneva arising out of a joint venture in Turkey with a major Turkish industrial group; a French respondent in an ad hoc arbitration in New York concerning patent disputes relating to avionics equipment; and Turkish claimants in ICC arbitrations in Istanbul, Helsinki and Frankfurt.

He was Adjunct Professor of Law at Georgetown University Law Center, where he taught international arbitration from the 2004-2005 academic year through 2018.  He is the author of International Arbitration: Commercial and Investment Treaty Law and Practice (ALM/Law Journal Press 2015).

For his work as arbitrator, Elliot is recognized in Band 1 by Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business in the category of International Arbitration: Arbitrators (Nationwide) where he is described as “a distinguished international arbitration practitioner with notable experience as both arbitrator and advocate in a wide range of arbitral proceedings” (2017) and one who “enjoys an outstanding reputation for his credentials as arbitrator with deep experience in disputes heard under all major institutional rules and in ad hoc proceedings and has enormous respect in the arbitration community” (2019 and 2020). In 2021, he was described as “one of the best arbitrators.” In Chambers’ 2022 global rankings in the category of International Arbitration: Most in Demand Arbitrators, he was described as “one of the best arbitrators” who is “utterly fair and very clever” and asks “perfect questions.”

For his work as counsel, Elliot was consistently recognized by Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business in International Arbitration (Nationwide), where a client stated “He's clearly got an enormous depth of knowledge and is a real leader in the field,” and by Chambers Global: The World's Leading Lawyers for Business in International Arbitration (USA), where he has been described as “incredibly able and astute,” and “a very talented and excellent counsel.”  Elliot was also consistently recognized by Legal 500 in Litigation: International Arbitration, where he has been described as “one of the best international arbitration lawyers” in the market and “an outstanding advocate.”  

Experience as Arbitrator

Elliot frequently serves as an arbitrator in disputes administered by the ICC, ICDR, and other institutions, as well as in ad hoc cases. He has sat as arbitrator in the following representative disputes:

  • President in an ICC arbitration among Chinese, Swiss, and US pharmaceutical companies.
  • Co-Arbitrator in an HKIAC arbitration among Chinese, Irish and US software companies.
  • Co-Arbitrator in an ICDR arbitration between US and English financial services companies.
  • Presiding Arbitrator in an ICDR arbitration among Japanese, US and English pharmaceutical companies.
  • Co-Arbitrator in an ad hoc arbitration between Japanese and Spanish pharmaceutical companies.
  • President in an ICC arbitration among Dutch, English, and Korean parties arising out of an energy project in the Middle East.
  • Co-Arbitrator in an ICC case between German and US defense companies.
  • Co-Arbitrator in an ICC case between Dutch and Brazilian parties arising out of an agreement for the construction of FPSO platforms.
  • Presiding Arbitrator in an ICDR case between Hong Kong and Brazilian parties arising out of a distribution agreement.
  • Sole Arbitrator in an ICC case between an Irish subsidiary of a British company and an agency of the Irish government.
  • President in an ICC arbitration between Japanese and Canadian parties arising out of a supply agreement in the nuclear industry.
  • Co-Arbitrator in an ICSID arbitration between an investor and the Republic of Venezuela.
  • Presiding Arbitrator in a PCA arbitration under the UNCITRAL Rules between construction companies and an international organization.
  • Co-Arbitrator in an ICDR case between French and US pharmaceutical companies arising out of a collaborative research and licensing agreement.
  • Co-Arbitrator in consolidated ICC cases presenting claims between Singaporean and Dutch parties relating to the construction of drilling rigs.
  • Co-Arbitrator in an HKIAC case between US and Chinese parties arising out of an acquisition agreement.
  • Co-Arbitrator in an ICC case between Japanese and Korean parties arising out of a patent licensing agreement.
  • Co-Arbitrator in two ICC cases between US and English parties arising out of an asset purchase agreement and a supply agreement in the pharmaceutical industry.
  • Emergency Arbitrator in a dispute among Dutch, German and Japanese parties arising under cross-licensing agreements.
  • Co-Arbitrator in an ICDR case between US and Nicaraguan parties arising out of a textile manufacture and supply agreement.
  • Chairman in an ICDR case between US and Danish parties arising out of an equipment supply agreement.
  • Presiding Arbitrator in an ICC case in New York between the US subsidiaries of two Chinese companies arising out of a supply agreement.
  • Sole Arbitrator in an ICDR case between English and US companies arising out of a pooling agreement in the transportation industry.
  • Sole Arbitrator in an ICDR case between Polish and US parties arising out of a services contract.
  • Co-Arbitrator in an ICDR case between an Indian pharmaceutical company and a US company arising out of a Cooperation Agreement.
  • Presiding Arbitrator in an ICC case between Canadian and Argentine companies arising out of an acquisition agreement.
  • Co-Arbitrator in an ad hoc case arising out of investments in non-US distressed debt.
  • Co-Arbitrator in an ICDR case between US and Mexican companies arising out of a stock purchase agreement.
  • Co-Arbitrator in an ICDR case between US and Caribbean-based companies arising out of a hotel resort operating agreement.
  • Presiding Arbitrator in an ad hoc UNCITRAL case between a Canadian company and a US company arising out of a distribution agreement.

Experience as Counsel

While a Partner in the firm, Elliot represented a wide variety of US and non-US corporations in international arbitrations. 

  • An oil major in an ICSID arbitration against the Government of Uganda.
  • A large French company in an ICC arbitration in Geneva against a South American company in a dispute over ownership of an ICSID claim against a South American government.
  • A large Italian company in an ICDR arbitration in Houston against a US company arising out of a services contract in the energy sector.
  • A US manufacturer of jet aircraft in an ICC arbitration in Geneva against a European supplier of certain airframe components.
  • The Brazilian subsidiary of an Indian company in an ICC arbitration in Sao Paulo against the Brazilian subsidiary of a US company arising out of a supply contract.
  • A large European manufacturer of satellites in an ICDR arbitration in New York arising out of a contract for the design and manufacture of a constellation of low-earth orbiting satellites.
  • A large European manufacturer of jet aircraft in two ICC arbitrations in New York against a US designer and supplier of certain airframe components.
  • An African exploration and production company in an ICC arbitration in London against the Government of Sierra Leone following the cancellation of offshore leases.
  • The Mexican subsidiary of a large French company in an ICC arbitration in Paris brought by the US subsidiary of a Spanish company alleging defective supply of equipment to be used in an alternative energy project.
  • The international owners of a large industrial project in a Middle Eastern country against a US engineering firm in an UNCITRAL arbitration in London.
  • US, Danish and Belgian claimants in an ICC arbitration in Paris against German and French respondents arising out of a stock and asset purchase agreement.
  • A Turkish company in multiple ICC arbitrations in Helsinki and Istanbul against a large Scandinavian telecom equipment supplier.
  • A European telecom company in an ICDR arbitration in New York against a supplier of satellite services.
  • A French industrial company in an ICC arbitration in Singapore arising out of a contract to supply certain equipment to an Indian industrial company.
  • A Turkish company in an ICC arbitration in Frankfurt against a large US supplier of military communications equipment.
  • A French claimant in an ICDR arbitration in Houston against the US subsidiary of a German company arising out of a patent licensing agreement.
  • A large Scandinavian industrial company in an ICC arbitration against its North American distributor.
  • A Belgian company in an ICDR arbitration against US subsidiaries of a German company for breach of a Patent License Agreement.
  • A Belize company in an ICC arbitration in Geneva against a Finnish company arising out of a consulting and strategic marketing agreement.
  • A major international oil company in an ICC arbitration brought by a Venezuelan state-owned company arising out of an acquisition agreement.
  • A US chemical company in an ICC arbitration in Paris with a French chemical company in connection with the design, construction and operation of a new chemical plant.
  • A French aerospace and defense company in an ad hoc arbitration in New York against a US company concerning patent disputes relating to avionics equipment.
  • A major international oil company in an UNCITRAL arbitration in Lausanne arising out of a joint venture in Turkey with a major Turkish industrial group.
  • A major international oil company in an ICC arbitration in Geneva arising out of a patent licensing dispute with another major international oil company.
  • A major US based multinational in an ICC arbitration in Miami arising out of the construction of two power plants in Venezuela.
  • The United Nations in an UNCITRAL arbitration in New York involving breach of contract, fraud and related claims brought by a supplier of air charter services to UN peacekeeping operations.
  • US underwriters in a dispute arising out of an export credit insurance policy subject to London Court of International Arbitration in London.
  • British underwriters in an LCIA arbitration in London brought by a Singapore insured asserting claims arising under an export credit insurance policy.
  • A US company in an ICC arbitration in Paris arising out of the purchase of a European business from a German company.
  • A US company in an ICC arbitration in Stockholm arising out of a contract for the procurement of military equipment from a Russian State entity.
  • A French satellite manufacturer in a breach of contract arbitration arising out of a construction and purchase contract.
  • A US manufacturer in an UNCITRAL arbitration in London arising out of a construction project in Thailand.
  • A US systems engineering company in an ICC arbitration in London against a Spanish company involving the installation of a command and control prototyping laboratory in Madrid and the related licensing of proprietary software.
  • A US semiconductor manufacturer in an ICC arbitration in Paris arising out of the construction of a new plant in France.
  • A US manufacturer in multiple American Arbitration Association arbitrations in Washington against its British distributor.
  • A Swiss company in an ICC arbitration in Vienna arising out of the purchase of a Danish company.
  • A European energy company in an LCIA arbitration arising out of a petroleum supply contract.
  • European nuclear interests in arbitrations related to both construction contracts and enrichment services contracts.

Professional associations

  • Member, Arbitration Committee, U.S. Council for International Business
  • Member, Panel of Arbitrators (Member of specialized panels for (i) Aerospace, Aviation and National Security, (ii) Mergers & Acquisitions, and (iii) Joint Ventures), International Centre for Dispute Resolution
  • Member, Commission on Arbitration, International Chamber of Commerce
  • Member, London Court of International Arbitration
  • Member, Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre
  • Member, Board of Directors (2012-2017), New York International Arbitration Center
  • Member, International Arbitration Editorial Advisory Board (2016, 2017), Law360
  • Member, Institut pour, LArbitrage International
  • Member, London Court of International Arbitration
  • Member, International Centre for Dispute Resolution

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