Nicholas Lawn leads Van Bael & Bellis’ London-based International Dispute Resolution team. He specialises in international arbitration and litigation with a particular focus on investment arbitration and public international law.  

Over the course of nearly 20 years, he has advised a range of clients - companies, individuals and governments - in relation to international disputes across numerous sectors including telecoms, energy, banking and finance, infrastructure, pharmaceuticals and mining and under a variety of different arbitral rules including under the ICSID, UNCITRAL, ICC and LCIA Arbitration Rules.

Nicholas has won some of the largest investment arbitration awards of recent years. Most recently, he successfully acted for Vodafone in its landmark arbitral victory against the Republic of India. In its award, the UNCITRAL Tribunal held that India’s attempts to impose a US$ 5.5 billion tax liability on Vodafone through retroactive legislation was in breach of international law.

In addition to substantial India-related disputes experience, his expertise and experience extends to matters involving Africa, Russia / CIS and Latin America (where he spent time working in one of Argentina’s leading law firms with one of Latin America’s leading arbitrators).

For a number of years, Nicholas has been identified as one of London’s leading arbitration practitioners. Most recently, he was included in the International Arbitration Powerlist (2019) and named as a Rising Star for International Arbitration and Public International Law by Legal 500 UK (2021).

Nicholas is a Solicitor-Advocate with rights of audience in the Higher Courts of England and Wales.




  • Legal 500’s International Arbitration Powerlist
  • Legal 500 for International Arbitration (UK) – Rising Star
  • Legal 500 for Public International Law (UK) – Rising Star 


  • LL.M., Columbia Law School
  • B.A., University of Oxford


Lexology GTDT, Investment Treaty Arbitration 2021 (EU Chapter)

Lexology GTDT, Intra-EU Investment Arbitration: Where Are We Now? (Article)

Arbitration World (6th Edition), The Energy Charter Treaty (Chapter)

Bar Admissions

Solicitor Advocate, England & Wales

Solicitor, Republic of Ireland

Publications and insights

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    • 01/10/2021
    • News

    Van Bael & Bellis London: a “Firm to Watch” for International Disputes in Legal 500 UK 2021

    Van Bael & Bellis London has been listed in Legal 500 UK (which was published this week) as a “Firm to Watch” in the fields of both International Arbitration and Public International Law. This ranking comes after the Firm launched its International Disputes practice in London only nine months ago in January 2021. Partner and Global Head of International Arbitration, Nick Lawn, is also listed as a Next Generation Partner in the categories of International Arbitration and Public International Law. Commenting on the Legal 500 listing, Nick Lawn said: “This is great recognition for the work being done by our growing International Disputes practice in London. We are very grateful to our clients and contacts for providing such kind feedback in relation to our work in these fields”. Legal 500 – one of the world’s leading legal directories – assesses the strengths of law firms in over 150 jurisdictions and highlights the practice area teams who are providing the most cutting edge and innovative advice to their clients. They focus not only on the bench strength of the team, but also on the consistency of quality of the individuals within the team.

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    • 09/09/2021
    • Articles

    Case C-741/19: The CJEU decides that intra-EU ECT arbitration is incompatible with EU law and interprets the definition of “investment” in the ECT

    On 2 September 2021, in its judgment in Case C-741/19, Republic of Moldova v. Komstroy LLC, the Court of Justice of the European Union (“CJEU”) decided that intra-EU arbitration under the Energy Charter Treaty (“ECT”) is incompatible with EU law. It also gave a restrictive interpretation to the definition of “investment” in the ECT.

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