Owen Pell

Retired Partner of Counsel, New York


Owen Pell received the Burton Award for Distinguished Legal Writing in 2003 and again in 2014.


Owen Pell represents and advises clients on a broad range of litigation matters. He draws on years of experience and knowledge to lead clients through numerous complex commercial matters including litigation relating to the extraterritorial reach of US law, securities litigation, RICO litigation, litigation involving foreign sovereigns and their state-owned entities, and cases involving issues of public international law.

Owen has extensive experience representing financial institutions and companies in connection with government investigations and the litigation that may arise from those investigations. He has conducted internal investigations with regard to the FCPA, fraud, lender liability, and historical reparation issues.

Owen has been involved in a number of high profile cases. He represented Deutsche Bank and UBS in class action, securities and bankruptcy litigation relating to the collapse of Enron, and has represented corporations, including the major Russian oil company, TNK-BP, a large Kazakh bank, and multiple sovereigns with regard to transnational claims.

Owen has also handled major cases in the area of corporate social responsibility. He represented Citigroup in class actions relating to the bank's activities in South Africa during the apartheid era, and JP Morgan Chase in class actions relating to a predecessor bank's alleged connections to African slavery in the United States. He also represented major U.S. and French banks, and an agency of the French state, in class actions arising from the activities of banks in France during World War II, and participated in the successful negotiations between the US and France to resolve these cases. He also represented the Republic of Peru in a case which resulted in Yale University returning artifacts from Machu Picchu.

Owen has lectured widely on a variety of issues. He was invited to lecture at the SEC on the changing nature of financial institution liability, and gave a TED talk on "Diplomacy 2.0", discussing the ways in which multinational companies and NGOs are changing how international legal norms are formed.

As part of his pro bono activity, Owen formulated a proposal for creating a title-clearing and dispute resolution entity to address claims to works of art looted from individuals during the Holocaust. The proposal was endorsed by the European Parliament. Owen also works closely with the Auschwitz Institute for Peace and Reconciliation, and the UN Office on Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect on a range of projects, including training programs for state officials in the prevention of genocide and mass atrocity crimes. Most recently, he contributed a chapter on corporate behavior and atrocity prevention to Reconstructing Atrocity Prevention (S. Rosenberg ed.), published by Cambridge University Press.

Owen also has endowed an honors thesis program at Binghamton University. The program allows a select group of students in the Philosophy, Politics and Law department to spend a year writing thesis papers that are then defended and a thesis prize is awarded.

Bars and Courts
New York State Bar
US Supreme Court
US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
US District Court for the Southern District of New York
US District Court for the Eastern District of New York
Hon. PhD (Doctor of Laws)
State University of New York at Binghamton
University of Virginia School of Law
State University of New York at Binghamton

Phi Beta Kappa



TNK BP, 2002 – 2010
Owen successfully represented TNK-BP in a US$1.5 billion federal RICO action. The case tested the territorial limits of the RICO statute. In dismissing the case, the Second Circuit issued the first decision applying the Supreme Court's decision in 'Morrison v. Nat'l Australia Bank' to limit the extraterritorial reach of the US RICO statute. See 'Norex, Inc. v. Access Indus., Inc.', 2010 WL 4968691 (2d Cir. 2010).

Cato Institute, 2012
Owen represented the Cato Institute in filing two amicus curiae briefs in the US Supreme Court in 'Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Shell', an important case in which the Supreme Court held that the Alien Tort Statute (under which companies have been sued for aiding and abetting violations of international law) did not have extraterritorial application. 2012 WL 392541 (US) (Appellate Brief).

Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations (an arm of the French Government), 2006 – 2008
Successfully represented the Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations (an arm of the French Government) in a class action seeking damages for property expropriated in France during World War II. 'Freund v. France', 592 F. Supp. 2d 540 (S.D.N.Y. 2008).

The Lebanese Company for the Development and Reconstruction of Beirut Central District SAL, 2007
Successfully represented The Lebanese Company for the Development and Reconstruction of Beirut Central District SAL in a federal action in which US courts refused to enjoin a Paris-based ICC arbitration brought against our client, holding that the US Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) does not authorize a US court to enjoin a foreign arbitration. 'URS Corp. v. The Lebanese Company for the Development and Reconstruction of Beirut Central District SAL', 512 F.Supp.2d 199 (D. Del. 2007).

JP Morgan Chase, 2004 – 2006
Successfully defended JP Morgan Chase against class action claims premised on the bank's alleged historical connection to predecessor banks connected to African slavery in the United States prior to 1865. 'In re African-American Slave Descendants Litig.', 471 F.3d 754 (7th Cir. 2006).

Republic of Poland and its Ministry of State Treasury, 2003 – 2006
Successfully represented the Republic of Poland and its Ministry of State Treasury in a class action seeking return of property expropriated in Poland after World War II. 'Garb v. Republic of Poland', 440 F. 3d 579 (2d Cir. 2006).

Deutsche Bank, 2002 – 2006
Successfully represented Deutsche Bank in various actions arising from the collapse of Enron Corp., including a securities class action lawsuit. 'In re Enron Corp. Sec. Litig.', 310 F. Supp. 2d 819 (S.D. Tex. 2004) and 529 F. Supp. 2d 644 (S.D. Tex. 2006).

Speaking Engagements

Oct. 2006: SEC lecture on the changing nature of financial institution liability.


Banking Litigation, Business & Commercial Litigation in Federal Courts, 3rd Ed. (R. Haig ed.) (West 2012)

Historical Reparation Claims: The Defense Perspective, Holocaust Restitution: Perspectives on the Litigation and Its Legacy (M. Bazyler and R.P. Alford eds.) (NYU 2006)

How to Handle that Nazi-Era Art Trove, The Wall Street Journal, Nov. 19, 2013, p. A18 (op-ed piece on Holocaust looted art issues in Germany)

Issues to Consider in Drafting a Class Action Settlement Agreement, Managing Complex Litigation 2008: Legal Strategies and Best Practices in "High-Stakes" Cases (P.L.I. No. 14204), 2008

Increasing Role of State Courts in Complex Litigation and Streamlining Multi-Jurisdictional Cases through Procedural Methods, Bet the Company Litigation 2009: Best Practices for Complex Cases (P.L.I. No. 18259), 2009

Procedural Innovations to Streamline Complex Cases, Bet the Company Litigation 2010: Best Practices for Complex Cases (P.L.I. No. 23276), 2010

Awards and Recognition

Burton Awards for Distinguished Legal Writing, 2014 and 2003