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Sheila Ahuja

Partner

Sheila is Co-Head of the India Group.

She advises clients on complex international commercial arbitration and investor-State disputes in Asia Pacific and South Asia, including India. 

She has particular expertise in disputes arising from joint ventures, distributorship arrangements, complex financial products, energy and infrastructure projects. As an experienced advocate, Sheila regularly appears as lead counsel before courts, tribunals and sitting as arbitrator under various rules and court proceedings including SIAC, HKIAC, ICC, UNCITRAL, ICSID, LCIA and DIAC.

Sheila is ranked by Chambers Asia Pacific 2024 for both Arbitration in Singapore and Dispute Resolution in India. She is also the sole individual recommended for Dispute Resolution in Malaysia by Chambers Global 2024. In the Singapore rankings, Sheila is the highest ranked female arbitration counsel. In the India rankings, she is one of only two individuals ranked Bank 1 for Indian Disputes - Expertise Based Abroad. Sheila is also recommended by Legal 500 Asia Pacific and Who's Who Legal.

A trusted advisor to boards of Fortune 500 companies, general counsels of private equity houses, governments and state-owned entities in multiple sectors including financial services, private equity, energy, life sciences and many more. Sheila delivers strategic and commercial advice to help clients achieve their objectives and protect their business interests.

With over two decades of experience, Sheila is recognised as an internationally renowned arbitration specialist and a thought-leader in the field of international arbitration.

Experience

Representative matters

A Southeast Asian-State owned telecommunications company in a Singapore-seated SIAC arbitration arising out of an investment in a Francophone African country worth USD400 million.

A Korean biotechnology company on a Hong Kong law governed SIAC arbitration against a Hong Kong business partner regarding alleged breaches of a joint venture agreement relating to the regulatory approval of certain biomedical products.

Acting for an Indian subscontractor in a DIAC construction arbitration against a UAE contractor for its unlawful termination of the subcontract.

An international banking group in a Singapore-seated SIAC arbitration arising from financing of a construction project in Bangladesh.

Shell (formerly BG) and Reliance on multi-phased arbitration proceedings commenced under the UNCITRAL Rules against the Government of India relating to disputes exceeding USD 5 billion arising out of two production sharing contracts, and also advising them in related court proceedings.

Nissan on a claim against the Republic of India pursuant to the 2011 Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement between Japan and India in connection to certain outstanding investment incentive sums owed to Nissan by the State Government of Tamil Nadu. We also advised on local proceedings in the Indian courts seeking to stay the treaty arbitration.

Baggerwerken Decloedt en Zoon NV, in an ICSID arbitration against the Republic of the Philippines, arising out of the cancellation of a EUR280 million infrastructure project. This was the first successful ICSID award obtained against the Republic of the Philippines.

A leading global financial software technology company based in Florida in relation to a dispute with a large Chinese alternative asset manager arising out of the sale of a financial software company.

A global investment bank on court proceedings relating to its investment in an infrastructure project in Bangalore, India.

A Mauritian investment fund on various potential issues arising from third party rights in relation to the fund's proposed exit from its investment in an Indian company engaged in the operation of IT office parks.

An international investment bank in two HKIAC arbitrations, one against a Hong Kong company for its failure to pay a sum due in respect of derivatives trades under the 2002 ISDA Agreement and another against the company’s PRC parent for failing to honour a guarantee it had provided concerning the trades.

An international oil & gas company on potential arbitration proceedings relating to joint venture and shareholder disputes concerning two energy projects in Malaysia.

The Hong Kong branch of an Indian bank in disputes arising from sums of approximately USD0.5 billion owed to it under letters of undertaking issued by an Indian bank.

Published Work

  • Professional Conduct in International Arbitration – A Discipline of Its Own for a Discipline of Its Kind, co-authored with Matthew Gearing, for ASA Special Series No. 36, Advocacy in International Commercial Arbitration, July 2013 
  • Editor, HKIAC/HK45 Newsletter, 2013-2015 
  • Alternative Dispute Resolution: The Indian Perspective (Oxford University Press) 
  • Emerging Trends & Practices in International Arbitration (Thomson Reuters) 

Leadership Positions And Professional Affiliations

  • Member, Chartered Institute of Arbitrators 
  • Committee member, IBA Asia Pacific Regional Forum 
  • Committee Member, ICC Empowerment Sub-committee 
  • Member of the Appointments Committee, Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre 
Recognition
'A very skilful lawyer and manages complex legal issues with ease.' 'She is simply great.'
Chambers Global: Dispute Resolution: Arbitration Singapore, 2024
Sheila sets clients at ease and is a good listener and clear thinker. She can be firm at times, and her conviction is always backed by sound reasoning. Always a pleasure to work with.’ ‘She is a very bright and incisive thinker, has great gravitas and presence in advocacy, and is highly experienced in India-related disputes.'
Chambers Global: Dispute Resolution (International Firms) India, Expertise Based Aboard, 2024

Qualifications

Admissions

Solicitor, Hong Kong, 2010

Solicitor, England and Wales, 2011

Bar Council of Delhi, 2022

Academic

LLB, University of London, 2004

PCLL, The University of Hong Kong, 2005

MA, Law, University of Cambridge, 2007

Oxford Women’s Leadership Development Programme, Saïd Business School, University of Oxford, 2020

Languages

English
Disclaimer
A&O Shearman was formed on May 1, 2024 by the combination of Shearman & Sterling LLP and Allen & Overy LLP and their respective affiliates (the legacy firms). Any matters referred to above may include matters undertaken by one or more of the legacy firms rather than A&O Shearman.