A partner in the Firm's International Arbitration Practice, Charles Nairac advises on commercial and investor-state arbitration, with a focus on the construction and energy industries.
Charles offers his clients the benefit of his comprehensive experience. He has resolved difficult cross-border disputes from Africa and Latin America to the Middle East and Central Eastern Europe, supporting a wide range of clients from governments to the owner of a family business. A citizen of Mauritius, the United Kingdom and France, Charles is fluent in English and French, and is able to handle complex arbitrations in either language. He has been involved in international commercial and investment arbitrations under most of the major institutional rules, as well as in ad hoc arbitrations.
Charles also accepts nominations as arbitrator, and recently served as a party-appointed arbitrator in a complex construction dispute involving a project in Central Asia. He is a member of a number of organizations with worldwide recognition, among which are Africa International Legal Awareness (Advisory Board), Paris, the Home of International Arbitration, IBA (Recognition and Enforcement of Arbitral Awards Subcommittee), the ICC Task Force on "Financial Institutions and International Arbitration" and "Maximizing the Probative Value of Witness Evidence".
Before joining White & Case LLP in 2001, Charles started his career doing M&A and finance work in a boutique firm, and then served as in-house legal adviser for a French bank in Singapore. While Charles' practice focuses exclusively on arbitration, this personal experience with transactional work and in the day-to-day business of a major company has given him an excellent understanding of the environment in which his clients operate.
Charles is recognized in leading legal directories such as Chambers, The Legal 500, the International Who's Who of Construction Lawyers and the Global Arbitration Review 100. He also teaches international arbitration at Sciences-Po Paris, Université de Paris I, Université Paris II and Université de Nancy.
ICC arbitration concerning one of the largest infrastructure projects in the world, 2013 – ongoing
Charles is representing the main contractor on one of the world's largest infrastructure projects located in Central America, in a series of related ICC arbitrations against the employer.
Gold Reserve Inc. v. Venezuela (ICSID Case No. ARB(AF)/09/1), 2014 – 2017
Charles represented a publicly listed Canadian mining company in annulment proceedings before the French courts of a long-running ICSID arbitration, under the Canada-Venezuela BIT, relating to one of the world's largest undeveloped gold/copper deposits.
Hydroelectric project in the Andes, 2017 – ongoing
Charles is representing a European construction company in an ICC arbitration regarding the construction of a hydroelectric project in Chile.
Oil & gas field in Central Asia, 2012 – 2014
Charles represented a Central Asian petroleum company in three LCIA arbitrations against the supplier of a gas treatment plant, over the quality and value of the plant supplied and services performed.
Commisimpex v. Republic of Congo, 2008 – 2016
Charles successfully represented Commisimpex in a Paris-seated ICC arbitration against the Congo relating to public works that had remained unpaid for 30 years.
Major infrastructure project in South Eastern Europe, 2009 – 2016
Charles is representing represented a consortium of major Western European contractors, in an ad hoc arbitration against a Southern European state, arising out of the construction of a motorway.
Vigotop Ltd. v. Hungary (ICSID Case No. ARB/11/22), 2011 – 2014
Charles represented the State of Hungary in the successful defence of claims in an ICSID arbitration, arising under the Hungary-Cyprus bilateral investment treaty relating to the alleged expropriation of the concession to a "mega casino" project.
Karmer Marble Tourism Construction Industry and Commerce Limited Liability Company v. Georgia (ICSID Case No. ARB/08/19), 2008 – 2012
Charles represented the government of Georgia in an ICSID arbitration arising out of alleged breaches of Georgia's treaty obligations to the claimant, in connection with the construction of a motorway and the concession of a hotel in the Autonomous Republic of Adjara.
"Construction Arbitration", 20 December 2017: CFA-40 Expert Series, Paris
"Third Party Funding: From the Ethical to the Financial Considerations" (keynote speaker), 27 April 2017: Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, Paris
"Africa & International Arbitration" (moderator), 25 April 2017: CFA/Paris, Home of International Arbitration Joint Conference, Paris
"Focus on the law Firms: (i) Challenges for African Arbitration Law Firms; (ii) Successes Stories in West Africa: Counsel's perspective; (iii) Co-Counseling: opportunities for Africa?", 20 April 2017: I-ARB West Africa International Arbitration Conference, Abidjan
"Comparative study of the public and arbitrability exceptions under Article V (2) of the New York Convention", 20 September 2016: IBA Conference, Washington DC
"Abuse of Process in International Arbitration and the Unwillingness of Counsel to Accept the Outcome of Arbitration in Sub-Saharan Africa - Damaging the Brand", 19 – 21 June 2016: 1st ICC Africa Regional Arbitration Conference, Lagos
"Constituting the Tribunal & Challenging Its Members: Due Process Issues and Concerns", 9 May 2016: ICCA Mauritius 2016, Pailles
To What Extent Do Arbitral Tribunals Take into Account Public Policy in the Jurisdictions of Prospective Enforcement of an Award? An Analysis of ICC Awards, ICC Dispute Resolution Bulletin, Issue 1, 2016, (Co-author with Elina Aleynikova and Manu Thadikkaran)
Charles is recognized by leading professional directories including Chambers Europe 2017, Chambers Global 2018, Who's Who Legal: Arbitration 2017, The Legal 500 EMEA 2017, The International Who's Who of Construction Lawyers 2017 and the Global Arbitration Review 100. He is described in Chambers Global 2017 (France) as "reliable, dependable and expert in the field of international construction disputes", as well as "an outstanding lawyer and a reliable counsel. He is very responsible and always extremely well prepared for the case. Charles is charismatic, skilled and persuasive and therefore very effective during negotiations"; and in Chambers Global 2018 (Africa-wide) as a "highly dependable and a pleasure to work with", "extremely personable and the quality of his work is excellent".