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John M. Townsend

Partner, Co-Chair, Arbitration & ADR Group

John M. Townsend is a litigation partner in the Washington office of Hughes Hubbard and chairs the firm’s Arbitration and ADR Practice Group. His practice focuses on complex disputes, particularly international disputes, both in court and before arbitral tribunals. John’s arbitration practice includes representing parties in international and domestic commercial arbitration and in investment treaty disputes, and acting as an arbitrator.

John served as Chairman of the Board of Directors of the American Arbitration Association (AAA) from 2007 to 2010 and as Chairman of the Executive Committee of the AAA from 2004 to 2007. He is a member and a Vice President of the LCIA Court of Arbitration. John was the first chairman of the Mediation Committee of the International Bar Association (IBA). In February 2008, he was appointed by President Bush as one of the American members of the Panel of Arbitrators of the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), on which he served until 2016. Chambers has consistently ranked John among the top international arbitration lawyers in the United States and has described him as "just a master," who "understands international ADR better than any other in the market." He served as lead counsel to Canada in Canada’s entirely successful defense of two arbitrations between the United States and Canada concerning the Softwood Lumber Agreement.

John’s litigation practice has included participation as a Hughes Hubbard associate in the successful defense of Ford Motor Company on a charge of negligent homicide in the Pinto fuel tank trial in Indiana and as a young partner in the defense of the building owner in the Kansas City Skywalks Collapse Litigation. He led a Hughes Hubbard team acting as national counsel to a major pharmaceutical manufacturer in nationwide, multi-defendant litigation challenging the use of published "Average Wholesale Prices" (AWPs) as a reference point in Medicaid reimbursement.

John served as a Trustee of the U.S. Council for International Business and chaired the Council’s European Privilege Task Force. He submitted an application on behalf of the Council to intervene in the Akzo Nobel v. European Commission case in the European Court of Justice to urge European recognition of an attorney-client privilege for company counsel.

John is a member of the American Law Institute (ALI) and serves as an Advisor to the ALI’s project to draft a Restatement of the American Law of International Commercial Arbitration. He has also served on the Harvard Law School Trial Advocacy Workshop faculty. John has been with Hughes Hubbard & Reed, in New York, Paris, and Washington, since 1971. He speaks fluent French.


  • Ranked in the first tier by Chambers USA as one of the top international arbitration lawyers and arbitrators in the U.S.
  • Ranked by Chambers Global as one of the top international arbitration lawyers in the world
  • Included in The Best Lawyers in America in the field of International Arbitration
  • Recognized in The International Who's Who of Arbitration Lawyers, The International Who’s Who of Commercial Litigation Lawyers, and The International Who's Who of Business Lawyers
  • Listed as one of the "top 20 arbitration specialists in the world" by Cross-Border Quarterly
  • Recognized by The Legal 500 United States as one of the top lawyers in the category of international arbitration
  • Benchmark and Expert Guides Global Commercial Arbitration Awards, "Arbitrator of the Year: United States" (2014)
  • Benchmark Litigation "National Litigation Star"

Court Admissions

  • Supreme Court of the United States
  • United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
  • United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
  • United States District Court for the Southern District of New York
  • United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York
  • United States District Court for the Western District of New York
  • United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin
  • United States District Court for the District of Columbia
  • United States District Court for the District of Colorado
  • United States Court of Federal Claims

Practice Groups and Other Information

Education Information

  • Yale Law School, J.D., 1971
    Class Secretary
  • Yale University, B.A., 1968
    cum laude
    Phi Beta Kappa

Bar Admissions

  • New York, 1972
  • District of Columbia, 1990


  • French

Highlighted Matters

Selected Arbitration Matters

  • Representation of Ukrainian investors in five arbitrations against the Russian Federation under the Russia-Ukraine BIT arising out of measures carried out after the Russian annexation of Crimea
  • Representation of Canada in two arbitrations captioned United States of America v. Canada under the Softwood Lumber Agreement of 2006 and the LCIA Rules
  • Representation of investor in expropriation claim against the Russian Federation in BIT arbitration in Stockholm that secured the first award holding that the Russian measures taken against Yukos amounted to expropriation
  • Submitted two amicus curiae briefs to U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of professors and practitioners of arbitration law in BG Group plc v. Argentina
  • Representation of an American company in ICC Arbitration in Paris and related European Commission proceedings involving chemical technology license dispute with a Spanish former joint venture partner
  • Representation of an American manufacturer in arbitration under Netherlands Arbitration Institute rules concerning termination of a contract to build a major plant in Rotterdam
  • Representation of American Arbitration Association in Eleventh Circuit appeal involving issues of arbitral immunity
  • Representation of German company in AAA arbitration in Seattle concerning validity of patent and technology license under European competition law
  • Served as advisor to the Ministry of Justice of Bahrain concerning drafting of the 2009 Arbitration Law
  • Submitted amicus curiae brief to U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of the American Arbitration Association in Green Tree Financial Corp. v. Randolph
  • Testimony before U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee in opposition to an attempt to amend the Federal Arbitration Act to permit antitrust litigation in court against a Japanese client
  • Service as arbitrator in more than fifty arbitrations seated in New York, Washington, Houston, Ann Arbor, Chicago, London, Paris, The Hague, Hong Kong, Tokyo, and Reykjavik, including eight investment treaty arbitrations
  • Member of AAA Commercial, International, and Class Arbitration panels; CPR Panel of Distinguished Neutrals; Panel of Energy Arbitrators; LCIA panel; WIPO List of Neutrals; Lists of Arbitrators of the Vienna International Arbitral Centre, the Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre, the Singapore International Arbitration Centre, and the Japan Commercial Arbitration Association
  • Served on committees that drafted the AAA’s International Arbitration Rules, Supplementary Rules for Class Arbitrations, and ICDR Guidelines for Arbitrators Concerning Exchanges of Information
  • Represented the AAA in working with the ABA on the 2004 revision of the AAA/ABA Code of Ethics for Arbitrators in Commercial Disputes
  • Member of CPR’s Challenge Review Board, and of the committee that drafted the CPR Rules for Non-Administered Arbitration

Selected Litigation Matters

  • Defense of Russian rocket company in suit by former venture partners in federal court in California
  • Lead national counsel to pharmaceutical manufacturer in multi-defendant actions in federal and state court, including multiple state attorney-general actions, challenging industry pricing practices
  • Representation of government client in District Court and Court of Appeals seeking dismissal of breach of contract claim on grounds of sovereign immunity
  • Representation of International Jurists as amici curiae in brief to the Supreme Court in Sosa v. Alvarez-Machain (Alien Tort Statute case)
  • Representation of creators of the television program Home Improvement in California litigation against The Walt Disney Company concerning terms for license negotiated by Disney Television with its affiliate, ABC
  • Representation of European government as amicus curiae in Second Circuit appeal involving extraterritorial restrictions in trademark injunction
  • Defense of leading greeting card manufacturer in trade dress infringement and unfair competition action in U.S. District Court in Denver and the Tenth Circuit
  • Representation of Italian bank in suit in Delaware Chancery Court and Delaware Supreme Court to cancel fraudulently issued shares of Delaware corporation
  • Defense of New York utility in RICO and securities class actions and derivative suit arising out of arrest of a vice president
  • Representation of greeting card manufacturer and chain of drug stores in obtaining summary judgment dismissing Robinson-Patman Act claims in Florida
  • Defense of engine manufacturer in antitrust suit over distribution restrictions in Milwaukee
  • Defense of building owner and its corporate parent in litigation over collapse of the skywalks in the Hyatt Regency in Kansas City and subsequent rescuer class actions


    Permanent Court of Arbitration Press Release (August 2016) (August 2016)
    Hughes Hubbard Recognized by GAR 100 2016 (March 2016)
    Hughes Hubbard's International Arbitration Group Named to Elite GAR 30 (March 2016)
    Ukrainians Hit Russia with Multimillion-Dollar Claims (January 2016)
    Hughes Hubbard Recognized by GAR 100 2015 (March 2015)
    Hughes Hubbard Leads Canada to Another Softwood Lumber Victory (April 2014)
    Supreme Court Cites Hughes Hubbard Brief in BG Group Ruling (March 2014)
    Townsend Appointed to London Court of International Arbitration (October 2012)
    Firm Delivers Clean Sweep for Canada in Softwood Lumber Dispute (August 2012)
    Chambers Awards and Rankings (July 2011)
    Chambers USA Rankings (June 2010)
    Hughes Hubbard Represents Fortune Tobacco in Joint Venture with Philip Morris (April 2010)
    Chambers Rankings (July 2009)
    John Townsend reported in October issue of Washing Lawyer magazine (September 2006)
    John Townsend honored as one of top 20 arbitration lawyers (July 2006)
    Co-authored John Townsend article in Dispute Resolution Journal (July 2006)
    John Townsend Chaired Discussion on International Mediation (April 2006)
    Cenveo Spin-Off (March 2006)
    John Townsend served on the faculty at The Asian Leading Arbitrators’ Symposium on the Conduct of International Arbitration (February 2006)
    Townsend, Baum, Fellas and Hammond named to The International Who’s Who of Commercial Arbitration (January 2006)
    Packman served on the faculty of the Harvard Law School Trial Advocacy Workshop (January 2006)
    Merck Victory in Class Action (September 2005)
    John Townsend, Axel Baum, John Fellas and Steve Hammond were listed in the 2005 edition of The International Who's Who of Commercial Arbitration (September 2005)
    Am Law ‘Arbitration Scoreboard’ (July 2005)
    Chief White House Correspondent Elisabeth Bumiller Profiles Frances Fragos Townsend in The New York Times (June 2005)
    Four Hughes Hubbard Attorneys Named This Year's Who's Who of Commercial Arbitration (May 2005)
    Sony Ericsson Win (April 2005)
    More than a dozen Hughes Hubbard lawyers are included in the latest edition of The Best Lawyers in America (November 2004)
    Three Hughes Hubbard Lawyers are included in the latest edition of Chambers Global (November 2004)
    John Hoyns is listed in Euromoney’s Expert Guide to the World’s Leading Aviation Lawyers (November 2004)
    John Townsend in The International Arbitration News (October 2004)
    John Townsend was selected as executive committee chair of the American Arbitration Association (AAA) (October 2004)
    John Townsend Named to Board of College of Commercial Arbitrators (December 2003)
    John Townsend on AAA Panel that Approves Revised Ethics Code for Arbitrators (December 2003)
    The International Who's Who of Commercial Arbitrators-- 2003/2004 (September 2003)
    International Arbitration Practice Still at Top in Chambers Global--2003 (August 2003)
    John Townsend Recognized as "Outstanding Director" by AAA (June 2003)
    Hughes Hubbard Litigators Stand Out in New Euromoney Guide to World's Leading Litigators (April 2003)
    Firm Represents ALSTOM in Joint Venture Worth Up To $2.3 Billion (November 2002)
    John Townsend Elected to College of Commercial Arbitrators (November 2002)
    Euromoney's Guides to the World's Leading Lawyers (November 2002)
    International Who's Who of Business Lawyers -- 2003 Edition (November 2002)
    Firm Scores Victory for AAA (November 2002)
    Hughes Hubbard a "Recommended Firm" for Banking and Finance (September 2002)
    John Townsend Appointed to International Advisory Committee of AAA (August 2002)
    Arbitration Practice Receives Top Ranking From Chambers Global (June 2002)

    Highlighted Publications

    • Book Review of Gary Born, International Commercial Arbitration (2d Ed.), Arbitration International, 2015.
    • "Protection of Communications with Company Lawyers: The Last Gap in the Common Law -- Civil Law Divide in Arbitration" (with James H. Boykin), Festschrift for Siegfried H. Elsing on His 65th Birthday, edited by Werner F. Ebke, Dirk Olzen, Otto Sandrock, R&W Fachmedien Recht und Wirtschaft, 2015.
    • "When the BIT hits the FAA:  U.S. Courts Confront Conditions Precedent in Bilateral Investment Treaties," Contemporary Issues in International Arbitration and Mediation – the Fordham Papers, edited by Arthur W. Rovine, Brill Nijhoff, 2014.
    • "Promoting Peace Before Conflict: Integrating Alternative Methods of Dispute Resolution into the Arbitration Process," Arbitration Advocacy in Changing Times, edited by Albert Jan Van Den Berg, International Council for Commercial Arbitration, series no. 15, 2011.
    • "The Rise and Fall of Class Arbitration," AAA Yearbook on Arbitration & the Law, 23rd Edition, edited by Stephen K. Huber and Ben H. Sheppard, Jr., Juris Publishing, Inc., 2011.
    • "Arbitrating US Antitrust Law in Pharmaceuticals Markets" (with Robert Reznick), in EC and US Antitrust Arbitration, edited by G. Blanke and Ph. Landolt, Kluwer/Aspen, 2011.
    • "The New Bahrain Arbitration Law and the Bahrain 'Free Arbitration Zone,'" Dispute Resolution Journal, February-April 2010.
    • "Crossing the Hot Tub: Examining Adverse Expert Witnesses in International Arbitration," Take the Witness, Juris Publishing, 2010.
    • "Extending an Arbitration Clause to a Non-Signatory Claimant or a Non-Signatory Defendant: Does it Make a Difference?" Dossiers of the Institute n° VII, ICC Institute, 2010.
    • "Non-Signatories in International Arbitration – An American Perspective," International Arbitration 2006: Back to Basics, International Council for Commercial Arbitration Congress series No. 13, 2007.
    • "Leave the Federal Arbitration Act Alone," ABA TIPS Section Business Litigation Committee News, 2007.
    • "Class Arbitration in the United States," LCIA News, 2007.
    • "State Court Enforcement of Arbitration Agreements," Report to the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform, 2006.
    • "Holding the Fort Until the Arbitrators Are Appointed: The New ICDR International Emergency Rule" (with Ben H. Sheppard, Jr.), Dispute Resolution Journal, 2006.
    • "Arbitrator Neutrality and Disclosure: The End of the 'American Problem,'" Journal of International Dispute Resolution - IDR, 2005.
    • "Clash and Convergence on Ethical Issues in International Arbitration," Inter-American Law Review, 2004.
    • "The Federal Arbitration Act Is Too Important To Amend," The International Arbitration News, 2004.
    • "Revised Code of Ethics for Commercial Arbitrators Explained" (with Bruce Meyerson), Dispute Resolution Journal, 2004.
    • "Commentary on the July 2003 Revisions to the AAA Commercial Arbitration Rules" (with Paul D. Friedland), Dispute Resolution Journal, 2003/2004.
    • "Drafting Arbitration Clauses: Avoiding the 7 Deadly Sins," Dispute Resolution Journal, 2003.
    • "Arbitration Across the Civil Law – Common Law Divide" (with Siegfried Elsing), Arbitration International, 2002; included in ADR & The Law, 17th Edition.
    • "Recent Developments in NAFTA Arbitration," ADR Currents, 2001.
    • "Obtaining A Preliminary Injunction in Aid of Arbitration," Metropolitan Corporate Counsel, 1999.
    • "Commercial Arbitration in the United States: The Legal Structure," NAFTA Advisory Committee on Private Commercial Disputes, Mexico City, 1999; Commercial Mediation and Arbitration in the NAFTA Countries, JurisNet 1999.
    • "What To Do Until The Arbitrator Comes: Obtaining Urgent Preliminary Relief," Corporate Counsel Magazine, 1999.
    • "The Case for Site Licenses," European Competition Law Review, 1999.
    • "The Initiation of Arbitration Procedures," ICSID Review – Foreign Investment Law Journal, 1998.
    • "Recourse against the Arbitrator," published in "The Status of the Arbitrator," Special Supplement to The ICC International Court of Arbitration Bulletin, 1995.
    • "Provisional Remedies in Aid of Arbitration," The Preparation and Trial of a Commercial Arbitration, NYSBA, 1990.
    • "Right to Trial by Jury in Declaratory Judgment Actions," 3 Connecticut Law Review 564, 1971.

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