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Stephen Townley

Stephen Townley, FCIArb

Case Manager
Doug Duzant
T: 212-607-2787
F: 212-228-0222
620 Eighth Avenue, 34th Floor, New York, NY 10018


Stephen Townley is a lawyer, businessman and seasoned ADR professional with extensive expertise resolving high-value legal and business disputes in Asia, the Middle East and North America. Mr. Townley’s diverse litigation and transactional background includes the founding of Townleys, the first and largest international sports law and media boutique outside the United States, in 1983. It merged in 2001 with global 100 law firm Hammonds (now Squire Patton Boggs), where Mr. Townley served as head of international. Mr. Townley also served as general counsel and foreign law consultant for a number of firms.

Mr. Townley is an arbitrator and mediator for the Court of Arbitration for Sport and a mediator for the World Intellectual Property Organization . He is known for his ability to de-escalate existing disputes and overcome obstacles to settlement by leveraging his extensive legal, investigatory, business and technology skills in situations of conflict.

Mr. Townley is recognized as a trailblazer in sports and media rights. He worked on the legal structures and agreements for the first commercial programs for FIFA, UEFA, the IAAF and the IOC. He was involved in the creation of the Rugby World Cup, Cricket World Cup, World Games and European Rugby Champions Cup. He delivered groundbreaking commercial tour programs with artists like the Rolling Stones and David Bowie. In film, he established a legal right for directors in the production of music videos, pioneered in Duran Duran’s “Girls on Film” music video.

Mr. Townley has been a founder, board member and investor, operating at a senior level in commercial organizations, governments and sports federations. He set up and invested in NetResult, a technology and artificial intelligence service provider specializing in protecting proprietary content, which was acquired by Thomson Reuters in 2013. He was a director of World Sport Football Ltd., the largest football rights owner in Asia, holding the Asian Football Confederation rights. This business was acquired as part of a transaction with Lagardère Sports and Entertainment in 2008. Since 1998, he has chaired Active Rights Management Ltd., a consultancy that provides advice to clients during periods of change and stress.

As a strategic adviser, Mr. Townley has chaired Synchro Arts, an international market leader in software production for music editing and recording, which in 2018 was honored with a National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Technical Emmy. He has advised law firms, charities, sports agencies and national and international sports federations. A champion of progress and innovation, he is the founder of LawAccord and was involved in the creation of the SportAccord Conference, two significant developments in the international sports marketplace.

ADR Experience and Qualifications

  • Arbitrator, Court of Arbitration for Sport, 1996–present
  • Mediator, Court of Arbitration for Sport, 2012–present
  • Mediator and Arbitrator, World Intellectual Property Organization, 2018–present
  • Technical Expert, Sport; Singapore International Mediation Centre; 2015–present
  • Accredited Mediator, Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, 2009
  • Fellow, Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, 1999

Representative Matters

Mr. Townley has mediated and arbitrated disputes in Hong Kong, Dubai, Mauritius, Singapore, New Zealand, India, Sweden, Switzerland, the United States and the United Kingdom. Matters include the following:

  • Long-term engagement facilitating settlement of media rights claims in excess of USD $1 billion involving litigation in five jurisdictions and parallel arbitrations covering a range of commercial, regulatory and criminal issues 
  • Eighteen-month engagement handling high-profile disciplinary claims with multijurisdictional implications involving extensive media management, engagement of forensic accountants, investigative specialists and legal teams in several countries
  • Mediation to resolve dispute between investors and fund manager
  • Non-Executive Director, International Motor Sports Association, 2001–2016
  • Chairman, Sports Resource Group, 2003–2005
  • Director and Chairman, World Sport Football Hong Kong, 1996–2015
  • Member, Advisory Board, Melbourne Law Master’s Sports Law Program, 2003
  • Board Member, Sports Lawyers Association, 1996–2008
  • Honorary Legal Adviser, General Association of International Sports Federations, 1995–2001
  • Chair, Sports and Gaming Committee, International Bar Association, 1989–1993
  • Chairman, Active Rights Management Ltd., 1998–present
  • Founder, LawAccord Conference, 2003–present
  • Chairman, SynchroArts Ltd., 2011–present
  • Foreign Law Consultant, Withers KhattarWong (Advisor to Singapore branch of Withers LLP), 2012–present
  • Foreign Law Consultant, Rajah & Tann Singapore, 2009–2011
  • Chairman, International Federation of Strength Athletes, 2005–2006
  • Head of International, Squire Patton Boggs, 2001–2003
  • General Counsel, International Tennis Federation, 1993–1997
  • Founder and Senior Partner, Townleys, 1983–2001
  • General Counsel, West Nally Ltd., 1979–1983
  • In-House Legal Advisor, Hawker Siddeley Diesels Ltd., 1978–1979
  • Solicitor, 1978
  • Trainee Solicitor, City of London Marine Insurance, 1975–1979
  • Commercial Apprentice, Engineering Sector, Huntley Boorne & Stevens, 1966–1968
  • Academic LL.B., University College London; London Intercollegiate LL.M., London School of Economics; 1971–1975

Counsel Comments

    • “Stephen’s ability to understand complicated financial documents quickly was very impressive. His ability then to navigate a path with individuals who stridently held opposite views and opinions was quite remarkable. At the start of process, I was pessimistic that any negotiated conclusion was ever possible.”   



Practice Areas

  • Arbitration
  • Business & Commercial Law
  • Entertainment & Sports/eSports
  • Financial Markets
  • Intellectual Property
  • International
Available worldwide


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