Sanctions and international trade

A&O Shearman’s sanctions and international trade team helps organizations across sectors navigate the legal and regulatory challenges and opportunities of doing business in a globalized economy.  

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Our team has deep expertise in UN, EU, U.S., U.K. and other sanctions and export control regimes; international trade law and policy, (including WTO rules); trade and customs disputes; and foreign investment and national security issues. 

We advise across the business cycle, providing risk assessment and due diligence for contracts, relationships and business ventures. 

Our team works hand-in-hand with our corporate and M&A, finance, and capital markets lawyers to advise on M&A deals; bank, project finance and capital markets transactions; and the contractual protections, operational and compliance protocols, and licensing requirements required to de-risk dealings with third parties.

Cross-border advice on navigating overlapping sanctions regimes 

We provide cross-border guidance on how to manage conflicting or overlapping sanctions obligations and blocking laws across multiple jurisdictions, and help our clients mitigate risk through drafting and implementing sanctions compliance policies and training programs for senior management, boards, employees, and agents. 

Our lawyers provide trade defence advice on anti-dumping, anti-subsidy and safeguard measures and related disputes, as well as customs advice on tariff classification, valuation, origin, labelling, trade agreements, and preference programs. 

Team members with agency experience 

Members of our team have worked for agencies including the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), the European Commission, the U.K. Department of International Trade, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), and the U.K. National Security Council, giving us an insider's perspective on how these authorities operate and what they expect from businesses.  

In addition, our litigators – many of whom are former government prosecutors – provide top-tier support to defend our clients in investigations and prosecutions relating to sanctions and other regulatory breaches in the U.S., U.K., EU, the Middle East, and Asia-Pacific. 

Representative matters 

  • A global financial institution in relation to a criminal investigation conducted by the Belgian authorities into the alleged handling of Libyan assets in breach of UN, EU, and U.S. sanctions rules against Libya.
  • Numerous clients across a full range of sanctions compliance matters concerning jurisdictions such as Russia, Iran, Venezuela, Cuba, Sudan and Egypt. 
  • An international oil and gas major in relation to EU/U.S. sanctions litigation and investigations involving one of its Asian subsidiaries.  
  • The Republic of Cuba in its challenge to Australia's Tobacco Plain Packaging Act 2011 - the first time that Cuba has challenged another country's commercial legislation at the WTO.
  • A major aerospace and defense company on various aspects of EU and U.S. export controls and sanctions, including in relation to dual-use items, military goods, and end-use and end-user restrictions.
  • Numerous clients on their withdrawal from the Russian market in light of international sanctions and/or the ringfencing of their Russian businesses. 

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