IAIN SANDFORD assists sovereign clients and their stakeholders to solve their most difficult international disputes. Iain draws on diverse experience with intergovernmental and commercial dispute settlement to help clients develop winning strategies and deploy the full range of tools available to achieve positive results.
Iain's successes include:
- Securing favourable findings for Qatar in a landmark World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute against Saudi Arabia concerning the notorious “beoutQ” broadcast pirate. The WTO panel report contained a number of firsts, including: the first time a WTO panel has confirmed that live sports broadcasts are protected by copyright; the first time a complainant has succeeded with a claim under the WTO provision that requires a state to apply criminal procedures to commercial-scale piracy or counterfeiting; and the first time a complainant has ever defeated a respondent’s “national security” defense. (Saudi Arabia – Measures Affecting IP Rights) The case was one element of a broader strategy and involved close coordination with Sidley teams pursuing remedies in other national and international forums.
- Helping the Faroe Islands 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. (EU – Atlanto-Scandian Herring). According to Bjørn Kunoy, Professor of International Law and former legal adviser, Faroes Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Trade “When the Faroes faced economic sanctions, Sidley played a critical role in shaping our international law strategy. The strategy proved its worth when we won an early settlement of the dispute.”
- Serving as counsel to the Government of China in a successful 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 secure a large award of WTO-authorized trade retaliation against the United States. (US – Anti-Dumping Methodologies (China))
Iain’s understanding of the international problem-solving toolbox is bolstered by experience as a panelist in WTO dispute settlements and as a mediator in commercial disputes. He is listed on the WTO’s Indicative List of dispute settlement panelists. Iain also counsels clients on trade law compliance when adopting new measures. For example, Iain assisted the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) pro bono to design trade measures responding to COVID-19 in a WTO-consistent manner.
In his 24-year career, Iain has lived and worked in New Zealand, Canada, Australia, and Switzerland. In addition to his dispute resolution work, Iain has developed a deep 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 agreements and arrangements. He has undertaken law reform and other consulting projects for the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Secretariat, the OECS, 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 counselled clients (notably universities and cultural institutions) on their international engagements. In particular, he advised institutions on economic sanctions and export control, as well as private international law, including with respect to artwork looted during the Nazi period in Europe.
Iain features prominently in the international trade and WTO rankings of the leading bar publications. Most recently, Iain has been awarded “Lawyer of the Year” by The Best Lawyers in Switzerland 2022 in the Trade Law category. Iain has also been recognized in the 2021 editions of Chambers Global and Chambers Europe, where clients describe him as “extremely proactive and very responsive,” whilst sources of Chambers Europe 2019 praise Iain 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 recent editions of Who’s Who Legal (Trade and Customs); the 2020 edition notes that Iain “excels in WTO matters,” whilst the 2018 edition describes him as “experienced, knowledgeable and user-friendly.”