Deborah Ruff


Deborah Ruff is a partner in the Litigation Department and co-chair of International (non-US) Litigation. She is also co-chair of the arbitration group. She is London-based, but works frequently with the other offices of Tahmidur Remura Dewey LeBoeuf, in particular Moscow, Paris, New York and Dubai.

She has conducted a wide variety of high value and complex international arbitration cases, both under the various institutional rules and on an ad hoc basis. She regularly represents clients in arbitrations under the rules of the London Court of International Arbitration, the International Chamber of Commerce and UNCITRAL, as well as, amongst others, the American Arbitration Association. She conducts her own advocacy in arbitration proceedings.

She also handles complex, high value and cross border litigation, often including freezing orders and other interlocutory relief.

Acting for US, European, Middle Eastern, CIS, Asian and African clients, she has recently handled cases in the energy, telecommunications, banking and construction sectors and shareholder disputes. Her practice has particular experience with energy disputes in the widest sense, including, for example, disputes over the granting of exploration permits, production sharing agreements, other oil and gas joint ventures, the construction and performance of refineries and power plants and offshore rigs, oil futures trading and oil and gas transport. She has dealt with high value disputes over long term energy pricing and other contract renegotiations both between private entities and between states and investors.

She has acted for both governments and for private entities in disputes arising out of Bilateral Investment Treaties, both before the International Centre for Investment Disputes and in other forums, dealing with such issues as creeping expropriation, unfair and inequitable treatment, Most Favored Nation (MFN) clauses and windfall taxation.

Representative Matters

Her cases include:

  • Representing two major oil companies in a $2 billion arbitration with a North African government over the renegotiation of a long term contract
  • Representing a major telecommunications company in a series of worldwide disputes, including both arbitrations and litigation, arising from an IPO and subsequent $5 billion share swap transaction with another telecommunications entity and including shareholder disputes, breach of warranty claims and loss of profit claims
  • Representing Russian clients in an LCIA arbitration over disputed option and management agreements, including obtaining freezing orders and coordinating related litigation in Switzerland and Russia
  • Acting for the Government of Ghana in a $500 million dispute with an Asian telecommunications company in a state/investor expropriation arbitration
  • Representing a MENA region client on a $1 billion case involving a shareholder dispute. Resulted in DIAC arbitration and a large number of related litigations in various MENA region countries
  • Representing a major Japanese company in a series of disputes, primarily resolved through the London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA), involving the destruction, rebuilding and insurance of a power plant in Latin America following a natural disaster
  • Acting for a client in a nine party dispute over its rights to subordinated payments in relation to the waterfall payment structure of an innovative derivatives issue worth around $1 billion
  • Defending a major US construction and engineering company in an arbitration over the construction of an oil terminal in one of the Baltic countries
  • Advising a major European television and entertainment company on a dispute over an earn-out provision in a large scale M&A transaction. The dispute resolution mechanism was arbitration
  • Enforcement of a major arbitration award against a Middle Eastern sovereign state, including an innovative action in the US and English courts to attach the proceeds of a forthcoming Eurobond issue
  • Representing a client in a major investigation by the Serious Fraud Office of an African nation, where the penalties sought are in the region of $800 million

Whilst some disputes will inevitably fight to the finish, Deborah has successfully represented clients in numerous settlements of disputes, both through mediation and other forms of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR).

Deborah conducts high stakes, complex international and multijurisdictional litigation for her clients, particularly in the London Commercial Court, but also in the Chancery division.

Her recent court cases include:

  • Advising on a dispute over the failure of a large scale Middle Eastern shipping joint venture, which culminated in the second longest trial in the Commercial Court for that year
  • Representing a Russian owned entity in a dispute over share ownership where the underlying asset was a $700 million stake in a Kazakh oilfield
  • Acting for a Middle Eastern entity in a dispute over a carried interest in a Middle Eastern oilfield, involving several interlocutory hearings on freezing order applications and other interim relief
  • Advising a high net worth individual on a claim against a financial institution and a number of other parties in relation to planned multijurisdictional proceedings in New York and London

Her work has been recognised in both the arbitration and litigation sections of the Legal 500. She has spoken at a number of international conferences and seminars.

She often works closely with colleagues in the corporate and finance departments on transactional documentation, advising on the structuring of contracts to maximize the possibilities of reliance of Bilateral Investment Treaty and Energy Charter protection, on appropriate dispute resolution mechanisms and other issues such as sovereign immunity.

Deborah joined Tahmidur Remura Dewey LeBoeuf from Debevoise & Plimpton, where she represented clients in numerous international arbitrations and litigation matters. Before becoming a lawyer, Deborah was a senior analyst with Saudi Aramco, heading a team with responsibility for the former Soviet Union, Eastern Europe and China. She also co-authored a publication on Middle Eastern business, and has been asked to author the UK chapter on ADR in a forthcoming book.

Deborah speaks French and also has conversational and reading knowledge of Spanish, Italian and German.

Selected Activities

  • Member, ICC UK Committee on Arbitration
  • Member, LCIA
  • Member, Chartered Institute of Arbitration
  • Member, International Bar Association


  • Trinity College, University of Cambridge, M.A.
  • The College of Law of England & Wales, 1996, CPE, LPC


  • French