IAIN SANDFORD assists sovereign clients and their stakeholders to solve their most difficult international disputes. Iain draws on diverse experience with inter-governmental and commercial dispute settlement to help clients develop winning strategies and deploy the full range of tools available to achieve positive results. He also serves on the firm’s COVID-19 Task Force.
For example, Iain has represented:
- the State of Qatar (Qatar) in ongoing international litigation arising out of neighboring countries’ campaign of coercive economic measures against Qatar. In addition to leading teams pursuing litigation in the World Trade Organization (the WTO), Iain works closely with the Sidley team pursuing remedies against Saudi Arabia under international investment law and other legal counsel taking action in the International Court of Justice;
- Qatar in defending a WTO dispute brought by the United Arab Emirates (the UAE). The UAE withdrew its complaint partway through the litigation without any adverse findings against Qatar;
- the Government of China in a WTO challenge to U.S. measures treating China as a “non-market economy” in anti-dumping proceedings. The proceedings placed China in a position to seek a large award of trade retaliation against the United States; and
- the Government of the Faroe Islands, helping the client to secure withdrawal of the European Union’s coercive economic measures in relation to Atlanto-Scandian herring and Northeast Atlantic mackerel caught by Faroe Islanders. Sidley supported the Faroe Islands in pursuing a strategy involving parallel litigation in the WTO and under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
Iain’s understanding of the international problem-solving toolbox is bolstered by experience as a panelist in WTO dispute settlement and as a mediator in commercial disputes. He also counsels clients on trade law compliance when adopting new measures. For example, Iain assisted the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) to design trade measures responding to COVID-19 in a WTO-consistent manner
Iain has lived and worked in New Zealand, Canada, Australia and Switzerland. In addition to his dispute resolution work, Iain has developed a sound knowledge of public international law and, as a public servant in New Zealand, was counsel to teams negotiating bilateral investment treaties, and negotiating and implementing a diverse range of intergovernmental trade agreements and arrangements. He has undertaken consulting projects for the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Secretariat and in the Arabian Gulf.
Immediately before joining Sidley, Iain led the international trade practice of a large Australian law firm. Iain successfully represented clients in safeguard, anti-dumping and countervailing duty proceedings in Australia. Iain also represented clients, particularly universities and cultural institutions, in diverse matters ranging from sanctions and export control through to risks associated with exhibiting artwork possibly looted during the Nazi period in Europe.
Iain features prominently in the international trade and World Trade Organization rankings of the leading bar publications such as Chambers, Who’s Who Legal and Best Lawyers. Most recently, Iain has been recognized as a leading individual in Chambers Europe 2019 in International Trade/WTO, where he is described as “wise and intellectually very strong.” Chambers Europe 2018 cites Iain as a “very good advocate” with extensive litigation and mediation experience. In addition, Iain has been recognized in the 2016, 2019 and 2020 editions of Best Lawyers in Switzerland for Trade Law. He is also listed in Who’s Who Legal 2019 for Trade and Customs, whilst in the 2018 edition described Iain as “experienced, knowledgeable and user-friendly” (2018), and “a top choice” for advice on WTO and international trade (2016).
Admissions & Certifications
- Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory
- High Court of Australia
- High Court of New Zealand
- University of Ottawa, LL.M., 2002
- Victoria Univ, Wellington, LL.B., 1996
- Victoria Univ, Wellington, B.A., 1996