AREAS OF SPECIALIZATION

Beginning in 1987 Ms. Thomas’ work involved her in a number of disputes that pertained to the MENA region, beginning with the defense of the Kuwait Ministry of Public Works against the claims of a major European contractor before an ICC tribunal (governed by Kuwaiti law), and a contract dispute between a major state regulated corporation of Morocco and a consortium of state regulated corporations in India (governed by English law).

During the occupation of Kuwait by Iraq, Ms. Thomas worked with the Kuwait government in exile on a number of issues, and continued to work with colleagues in Kuwait after Kuwait’s liberation.  In 1997 Ms. Thomas became affiliated with the law firm Abdullah Kh. Al-Ayoub & Associates, one of the largest and most prominent law firms in the Middle East.  This firm’s founding partner, Abdullah Kh. Al-Ayoub, is a former President of the Kuwait Bar Association and member of the Amiri Diwan, legal consultants to the government of Kuwait. Among other things, the firm acted as the local participant in the consortium which prosecuted the claims of the government of Kuwait against Iraq before the United Nations Compensation Committee.  In collaboration with her Kuwaiti affiliate, Ms. Thomas acted as counsel to a European state regulated corporation before an ICC tribunal in a multimillion dollar defense related arbitration against the Kuwait Ministry of Defense, prosecuted the claims of a Kuwaiti corporation against a major international insurance company in an LCIA arbitration, represented a Kuwaiti agent in an ad hoc arbitration against a Fortune 500 corporation, and represented another Kuwaiti client in a breach of contract action before the federal courts in the United States.

Many of the cases in which Ms. Thomas has been involved required intimate knowledge of the laws and judicial procedures of Kuwait and several of them involved Ms. Thomas in legal proceedings before the Kuwaiti courts. Drawing on this expertise, and her experience practicing law in civil and common law jurisdictions, Ms. Thomas has been a speaker on topics comparing the laws and legal procedures among common law, civil law and MENA jurisdictions at international conferences.

 

In addition to her work in the area of dispute resolution, Ms. Thomas has been involved in a number of commercial projects in the MENA region or involving MENA participants.

Ms. Thomas has been actively involved in a number of programs with the American Bar Association and the United States government aimed at improving the commercial law environment in the MENA region, and with the United Nations and countries in the MENA region on the development of modern international arbitration statutes.

  • For three years (2008-2010) she was Co-Chair of the Middle East Committee of the ABA Section of International Law, and during the past five years has both chaired and spoken at a number of programs at ABA conferences dealing with the development of laws and judicial structures in the countries of the Gulf,  or resolving commercial disputes with entities of MENA region.
  • From 2007-2010 she served as an advisor to the Commercial Law Development Program of the United States Department of Commerce on projects to help MENA countries improve their commercial laws and practices and to advance their judicial training programs. Among other activities she helped to organize and spoke on the subject of dispute resolution and investment problems in the MENA region at  CLDP conferences in Oman, Kuwait and the UAE for judges from all of the Gulf countries.
  • She represented the  Association of the Bar of the City of New York at meetings of  UNCITRAL working groups on international arbitration and, in 2010, assisted in the promulgated of new UNCITRAL international arbitration rules.
  • At the invitation of the Minister of Justice and the Ministry of Economy of the UAE, she has advised the government of the UAE on the drafting of a new international commercial arbitration statute, and in 2010 advised the government of Oman on model international dispute resolution contract clauses and legislation, and bilateral investment treaty issues.

Ms. Thomas is also the co-author of a book on international arbitration issues for judges  that is published in English and will be published in Arabic, as well as the author of a shorter “guideline” for judges on such issues.

OTHER PROFESSIONAL ACTIVITIES

Ms. Thomas was the Co-Chair of the Middle East Committee of the American Bar Association Section on International Law from 2006 to 2009, and a Vice Chair of the Committee for three years previous to that.  She currently serves as Senior Advisor to the Committee. She was the Chair of United Nations Committee of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York from 2009 to 2012, during which period the Association published two reports on issues involving Western Sahara prepared by the Committee: The Legal Issues Involved in the Conflict over Western Sahara: Morocco’s Use of the Resources of Western Sahara, and The Legal Issues Involved in the Conflict over Western Sahara: The Right to Self Determination and Morocco’s Claims.  She is currently the chair of a joint project between the Association and UN Women designed to enhance the rights of women in the MENA region.