Karel Daele
Karel Daele

Partner in the Mishcon de Reya international arbitration Group

Karel is a partner and head of Mishcon de Reya’s arbitration practise. He started his career in 1996 in Belgium, as a civil law litigator working for Stibbe, Freshfields and WilmerHale. Karel moved to Tanzania in 2006 to join Mkono & Co as a partner where he devoted most of his time to representing African states and state-owned companies in a number of ICSID and UNCITRAL arbitrations in the water and the energy sector. He also advised multinationals on investing in Africa’s mining, infrastructure, telecom and energy sector. Karel’s work has spanned Tanzania, Burundi, Kenya, Uganda, South Africa, Central African Republic, Botswana, Zambia, Namibia, Mozambique and Mauritius.


In 2012, Karel transferred his practise to London. He continues to focus on African investor-state disputes, although now acts more on the investor side. Examples include his work for BSGR in an ICSID arbitration against Guinea (a mining dispute involving allegations of corruption and one of the biggest claims in recent years), for RSM in an ICSID arbitration against Cameroon (a dispute over gas fields) and for a German corporate in an ICC arbitration against Libya (related to the fall of the Gaddafi regime). Other Africa work includes chairing a KIAC Tribunal hearing a dispute between an East-African contractor and an East-African state agency over a geothermal energy project and, as member of a UNCITRAL Tribunal, hearing a dispute between an African investor and South Sudan over a failed power project.


Karel also uses his African “frontier” expertise in other regions. He acts, for example, for RSM in an ICSID arbitration against St Lucia (a dispute over offshore oil concessions)and for a Syrian subcontractor in an ICC arbitration against a Chinese contractor (in a dispute over the construction of a 2,400 MW power plant in Saudi Arabia).


Apart from Karel’s investor-state work, he does commercial arbitration work under the Rules of the LCIA, ICC, CEPINA, UNCITRAL and in ad hoc arbitrations. These disputes arise under a variety of commercial contracts (joint venture agreements, share purchase agreements, sales agreements, service agreements and lease agreements) in a variety of sectors, including retail, financial services, construction, real estate. Karel acts, for example, for Indian respondents in an LCIA India arbitration against a subsidiary of the Qatar Investment Authority in relation to substantial investments in the agro industry in India.


Karel’s particular background and case load have not gone unnoticed. He is one of three individuals in the category Africa-wide disputes and “highly rated thanks to the breadth of his expertise” (Chambers Global 2014). According to Legal Business, “Daele has quickly established himself as a leading investor-state arbitration practitioner“. He is also an IFLR1000 Leading Lawyer in Energy and Infrastructure and a member of various arbitration institutions.


Karel has authored the reference work ‘Challenge and Disqualification of Arbitrators in International Arbitration’. Arbitration International said it was “of immeasurable value to both practitioners and arbitrators” and “not having Daele’s book would be a self-inflicted handicap“. Global Arbitration Review wrote the book “will be an important tool for years to come“. He has written over 50 articles, including a 70 page chapter on investor-state disputes involving African countries published in “Arbitration in Africa – A Practitioner’s Handbook” (Lise Bosman, ed.). In the last two years, he has spoken at 15 conferences around the world.

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