IAIN SANDFORD helps commercial stakeholders and states with winning strategies for solving complex cross-border challenges. Iain has a particular depth in resolving international economic disputes, and is familiar with a wide range of negotiation and dispute settlement techniques and forums.
Iain’s understanding of the international problem-solving toolbox is bolstered by experience as a panelist in WTO dispute settlement and in commercial mediation (both as counsel and mediator). He is listed on the WTO’s Indicative List of dispute settlement panelists, and the EU’s List of Candidates Suitable for Appointment as Chairpersons for Arbitrations under EU trade agreements.
In his 25-year career, Iain has lived and worked in New Zealand, Canada, Australia, and Switzerland. He has a strong, practical knowledge of public international law and, as a public servant in New Zealand, was counsel to teams negotiating a broad range of intergovernmental agreements and arrangements, including investment treaties. He has undertaken law reform and related consulting projects for regional intergovernmental organizations, including the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Secretariat, the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States, and the Gulf Cooperation Council.
Iain’s current work includes representing a WTO Member before a WTO panel; advising Fiji on ongoing Indo-Pacific Economic Framework negotiations; representing the African Union before the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea in an advisory proceeding concerning climate change and its effects on the marine environment; and ongoing work for a commercial actor in an investor-state dispute settlement.
Immediately before joining Sidley, Iain led the international trade practice of a large Australian law firm. In addition to customs and other matters relating to imports, Iain successfully represented clients in safeguard, anti-dumping, and countervailing duty proceedings. Iain also counselled clients on economic sanctions, export control, and Australian international business integrity law.
Iain features prominently in the international trade and WTO rankings of the leading bar publications. Among other distinctions, Iain was awarded “Lawyer of the Year” by The Best Lawyers in Switzerland 2022 in the Trade Law category and collected the “Trade & Customs” award at the Lexology Client Choice Awards at the end of 2022. He is recognized in the 2023 edition of Chambers Europe and Chambers Global for International Trade/WTO — Europe-wide, where a client stated “Iain impressed me as an excellent lawyer for strategic vision." A source for the 2022 edition said: “He is one of the most brilliant people I know.”