Partner, Debevoise & Plimpton LLP


Partner, Debevoise & Plimpton LLP

Lord (Peter) Goldsmith QC, PC, London Co-Managing Partner and Chair of European and Asian Litigation, joined Debevoise in September 2007. Lord Goldsmith served as the UK’s Attorney General from 2001-2007, prior to which he was in private practice as one of the leading barristers in London.

Lord Goldsmith acts for a variety of clients, alongside his role as chair of the firm’s European and Asian litigation practices, in arbitration and litigation in the UK and other countries. He is a QC and appears regularly in court as well as in arbitration.

Lord Goldsmith practised from Fountain Court Chambers from 1972-2001, specialising principally in commercial, corporate and international litigation and appellate work. During this time, he was ranked by Chambers UK as being in the top tier of leading silks in London for international arbitration and commercial litigation. He became Queen’s Counsel in 1987 at the early age of 37 and has judicial experience as a Crown Court Recorder and a Deputy High Court Judge.

Consistently acknowledged for his prominence, The American Lawyer states that “[he has] the advocacy skills of one of the finest barristers of his generation.” The Lawyer magazine named one of Lord Goldsmith’s cases, (representing Royal Dutch Shell in claims brought by The Ogale Community), to its “top cases of 2016” list. He is recommended as a leading lawyer in Chambers UK (2017) for International Arbitration, Public International Law, and Corporate Crime and Investigations, with the guide quoting clients saying he “has experience and gravitas; having him as counsel can have a significant difference.” Chambers Europe (2014) describes him as “very easy to deal with and seems really easy-going, but he is a terrier and will fight to the death. Incredibly quick.” The guide also describes him as “a real superstar,” renowned for being an “excellent advocate and extremely busy.”

He is praised for his “strong courtroom manner,” and clients appreciate his hands-on approach, responsiveness and sensitivity to their needs. Clients recognise him as a “superb lawyer” and “brilliant advocate,” who is “very clever” and “massively committed.” In Chambers Europe (2017) he is noted for his prowess in commercial disputes and described as “one of the leading individuals at the Bar” and “a serious intellectual heavyweight.” According to Chambers UK (2015), clients and peers praise Lord Goldsmith for being a “fantastic advocate” as well as “devastating in the courtroom and tremendously smart.” The directory has also praised him for his “overwhelmingly brilliant advocacy.” Chambers Global (2014) describes him as a “prolific arbitration lawyer” with “tremendous ‘experience and stature’ globally.” He is also ranked as a Notable Practitioner in the arbitration, dispute resolution, corporate investigations and public international law categories of Chambers Global (2014, 2015 and 2017) where he is described as being “extremely knowledgeable and thoughtful,” “a formidable advocate,” “a multifaceted lawyer” and “exceptionally accomplished.” He has also been described as “breathtakingly persuasive” and “one of the great doyens of the English bar,” and he is ranked as a leading lawyer for Dispute Resolution: International Arbitration in The Legal 500 Asia Pacific (2013). In Chambers Global and Chambers Asia Pacific (2017) a client states “he’s got some great qualities. We have to deal with lawyers, but also bureaucrats, and he is able to make them understand the entire process.” In a previous edition of the directory he is noted as “extremely able and respected” and “well regarded for his experience in India-related arbitration.” He has also been cited as “very impressive a heavyweight counsel who is user-friendly and practical.” He is ranked as a leading individual for Dispute Resolution and Arbitration (International) by Chambers Europe (2015) where he is described as a “fantastic lawyer; very hands-on and hard-working and brings a lot to the practice”. He has also been described as both “enormously accomplished” and a “brilliant advocate.” The Legal 500 UK (2016) ranks Lord Goldsmith as a leading lawyer for Corporate Crime and International Arbitration, and also recommends him for Commercial Litigation and Public International Law advice. The guide quotes clients as saying he is “an excellent advocate” and a “strong leader.”

Chambers Asia-Pacific (2013) holds Lord Goldsmith as highly regarded amongst the Indian legal community, with one source saying: “He has two skills that form a deadly combination in a litigator: firstly, the ability to dissect any complicated legal problem to one or two basic issues; and secondly, the ability to present a solution to the judge or arbitrator in the simplest possible manner.”

Lord Goldsmith was appointed Attorney General in 2001, acting as chief legal adviser to the government on matters of domestic, European and international law. He represented the government in numerous cases in UK and international courts. He also argued as counsel in the House of Lords two of the 15 cases regarded as the most important British cases of the last 150 years.

He conducts arbitrations under all the major institutions including LCIA, ICC and SIAC and in ad hoc arbitrations. He is closely connected with the LCIA, ICC (for whom he co-chaired the task force on Arbitration for States and State entities), the HKIAC (of which he is Vice chairman), and SIAC. He also has been appointed or confirmed as arbitrator by LCIA, SIAC and the ICC, as well as in ad hoc arbitrations.

He has appeared at all levels of courts in the UK and in many cases in the House of Lords, the Privy Council and the Court of Appeal as well as international and European courts and in the courts of a number of other jurisdictions including the highest court in the Caribbean.

Significant work includes partnership disputes, joint ventures, oil and gas disputes, auditors’ liability, insurance and takeover law, banking law, company law, insolvency litigation, public law and public international law, including judicial review and human rights law.

His past and present appointments include a Fellow for the American Bar Foundation; a Council Member of the Australian Centre for International Commercial Arbitration (ACICA); Chairman of the Bar of England & Wales, Chairman of the Financial Reporting Review Panel (1997-2000); co-Chairman of the IBA’s Human Rights Institute (1998-2001); elected to membership of the American Law Institute (1997); and made a member of the Paris Bar (1997). He was a Council member of the International Bar Association (IBA) and the Union Internationale des Avocats; a member of the Singapore International Commercial Court Committee; Council member of the International Section of the American Bar Association; Board Member of the American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative; Co-Chairman of the ICC Task Force on States and State Entities; member of the International Advisory Board of the Association of Caribbean Corporate Counsel; member of the Independent Governance Committee of FIFA, football’s governing body; Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Access to Justice Foundation; and a nominated member of the P.R.I.M.E. Finance Panel of Experts.

Lord Goldsmith was made a Life Peer in 1999 and Privy Counsellor in 2001. He is a Bencher of Gray’s Inn. In 2013 Lord Goldsmith was a visiting professor of European Legal Studies at Columbia University, New York.

He has judicial experience as a Crown Court recorder and Deputy High Court Judge. In addition to the Bar of England and Wales, he is admitted to a number of other bars on a permanent (Belize, British Virgin Islands, New South Wales, Paris, Northern Ireland) or case by case basis (e.g. St Kitts and Nevis, Cayman, Bahamas). He is also a Registered Foreign Lawyer at the Singapore International Commercial Court.

Lord Goldsmith has a strong history and life-long support for pro bono assistance to bring legal expertise to the disadvantaged. As a young lawyer, he started a legal advice center in the East End of London and, later in his career, founded the Bar of England and Wales’ Pro Bono Unit, a nationwide charity providing the free legal services of thousands of barristers (of which he remains President), the Attorney General’s pro bono coordinating committees (which coordinates pro bono activity in England and Wales), and became first chair of the Access to Justice Foundation, a cross-profession initiative which raises money to support pro bono organisations across the country and is by statute the sole recipient of pro bono costs award (a role in which he continues). Amongst other recognitions, he was awarded the Lifetime Award for Extraordinary Contribution to the Development of Pro Bono Culture in Europe at the 2014 PILnet European Pro Bono Forum. He continues to be an active pro bono lawyer. Recent cases include representing 300,000 dispossessed Nigerian citizens before the African Commission of Human Rights in the Gambia in respect of their forcible eviction and the destruction of their homes at Maroko Lagos; and acting as lead advocate in the Supreme Court of Belize for an intervening legal rights organisation in the case of Caleb Orozco against the Attorney General of Belize, in which on 10 August 2016, the Chief Justice struck down the country’s law criminalizing homosexuality as unconstitutional.

Lord Goldsmith has published numerous articles and is a frequent public speaker. Recent publications include contributing to “English Court Of Appeal Clarifies Test For Abuse Of Process In Subsequent Litigation Collaterally Challenging An Arbitral Award,” The ALI Adviser (March, 2017); “Britain and Europe: a new settlement?” EPC Challenge Europe(May, 2016); “An Introduction to International Public Policy,” International Arbitration and Public Policy edited by Devin Bray and Heather L. Bray (October, 2014); “How to Investigate Misbehavior in International Sports Organisations,” Reforming FIFA, edited by Mark Pieth (July, 2014); “Deferred Prosecution Agreements Enter Into Force In The UK,” Financial Fraud Law Report (April, 2014); “Clarity Needed On Foreign Arbitration Institutions In China,” China Business Law Journal (November, 2013); “Across a Dynamic Global Terrain, A Helping Hand,” Caribbean Corporate Counsel Journal (Winter, 2013); “What the NY Convention Means for Myanmar,” International Financial Law Review(April, 2013); “U.K. Serious Fraud Office Issues New Bribery Act Policies,” Financial Fraud Law Report (February, 2013); and “Investors Should Invoke Bilateral Investment Treaties if they are Hurt by Adverse Policies,” The Economic Times (November, 2012). Recent speaking engagements include “Parameters of Third Party Funding in International Arbitration, Essar decision and ICCA/Queen Mary Task Force,” Third Party Funding in International Arbitration Breakfast Seminar (July, 2017); “The Challenges and Opportunities of Dispute Resolution in Asia,” ICC UK Host Singapore Trade Minister(May, 2017); “ASIL Council Meeting Speech,” 2017 ASIL Annual Meeting (April, 2017); “Brexit, Devolution, and Dissolution in Europe: Can the Center Hold,” 2017 ASIL Annual Meeting (April, 2017); delivering the keynote address at CIArb’s Dispute Appointment Service Convention 2016 (December, 2016); “Redefining Arbitrability: To Expand or Not to Expand,” The UNCITRAL 50 Years – Global Standards For Rule-Based Commerce(November 2016); “Brexit and its Implications for International Arbitration,” ACICA Seminar (October, 2016); The GAR Live Oxford Union-style debate – Motion: “This house believes that advocates should be appointed to plead on behalf of non-appearing respondents in arbitrations,” 6th Annual GAR Live Hong Kong (October, 2016); “The Efficiency and Effectiveness of Arbitration,” IBA Conference 2016 (September, 2016); “The Role of Good Faith in MENA Region Arbitration,” Arab Arbitration Forum; (September, 2016); “Are Arbitrators Under Attack?,” International Bar Association Conference(September, 2016); “Special Relationship Between US and the UK,” LCIA Conference(September, 2016); “2019 and All That,” LCIA Annual Symposium (September, 2016) and Guest Speaker at Government Counter Fraud Awards 2016 (September, 2016).

He was a graduate in law from Cambridge University with double first class honours and a master’s from University College London. He was admitted to the Bar of England and Wales in 1972 and New South Wales in 2010.