Yas Banifatemi

Dr. Yas Banifatemi is a founding partner of Gaillard Banifatemi Shelbaya Disputes and is widely recognized as one of the most prominent international arbitration and public international law specialists worldwide. Prior to founding Gaillard Banifatemi Shelbaya Disputes, she served as Shearman & Sterling’s Global International Arbitration Practice Group Leader and Public International Law Team Leader.

Yas acts as counsel, arbitrator and expert and has experience under all major international arbitration rules. As counsel, she advises and represents States, State-owned entities and companies on international arbitration and public international law matters. She has secured numerous landmark victories for her clients, the most known of which is the USD 50 billion award rendered in favour of the majority shareholders of former Yukos Oil Company, the largest investment award in history.

Yas is a member of the SIAC Court of Arbitration, a former Vice-President of the ICC International Court of Arbitration as well as a former member of LCIA Court. She is listed on a number of arbitrator panels.

Yas is ranked in Band 1 of the Global Market Leaders by Chambers & Partners. She has been repeatedly praised in all leading professional directories. Chambers Global notes that “Yas Banifatemi is emphatically described by clients as ‘an outstanding lawyer in every possible respect’”. She earns “acclaim for her excellent track record in arbitration”. Directories have also described her as being “truly outstanding”, a “star performer”, a “brilliant lawyer with a sharp intellect”, and “one of the best technicians in the international investment arbitration field”, also having “a considerable presence in public international law”. A client has emphasised that “Yas is simply one of the most creative and lethal minds in the market. She is a game changer”. Another client has commented that “she is a master of her craft; her experience, diligence and strategic thinking are invaluable”, and goes on to say: “She is an exceptional lawyer with an extraordinary depth and breadth of experience”. Other clients have commented on the “clarity of her opinions”, her “ability to give valuable strategic advice” and “to anticipate how cases will develop”, her “real grasp of detail”, describing her as “extremely effective”, “incredibly impressive all round” and a “reliable and robust advocate” having a “thorough understanding of the law she practices”. Clients also highlight her “strong cross-examination skills”.

Yas was featured in Vanity Fair’s list of the 50 most influential French people in the world (Dec. 2021), in The American Lawyer’s list of “The Best and the Brightest” 45 female lawyers under 45 worldwide (2011), and as an honoree of Harvard Law School’s “Women Inspiring Change” (2014 inaugural year).

She is the President of the International Arbitration Institute (IAI), succeeding the late Emmanuel Gaillard in that capacity. In 2011, she co-founded the Arbitration Academy and acted as its first co-Secretary General from 2011 to 2013.

Yas teaches at Panthéon-Sorbonne University and Harvard Law School. In the Summer 2019, she gave a course at The Hague Academy of International Law on the powers of the arbitrator. She researches in the areas of public international law and international arbitration, and has authored numerous publications in, and regularly speaks about, both these fields.