Prof. Benjamin F. Hughes

Independent Arbitrator


Benjamin F. Hughes is an independent arbitrator and associate professor at Seoul National University Law School. He is an arbitrator and door tenant of Fountain Court Chambers in London and of The Arbitration Chambers in Singapore. Prior to launching his career as an independent arbitrator, Ben practiced international arbitration with Shearman & Sterling (in the US and Singapore), and was the founding co-chair of the international dispute resolution practice group at Shin & Kim, one of Korea's oldest and largest full-service law firms. 


Ben left law firm practice in March 2013 to focus on his practice as an independent arbitrator. Since then, he has been appointed in over 60 arbitrations with a total of over US $1 billion in dispute. He has served as the sole, chair or co-arbitrator in arbitrations under the rules of the AAA/ICDR, ACICA, CIETAC, DIS, HKIAC, ICC, JCAA, KCAB, KLRCA, LMAA, SCC, SIAC, VIAC and UNCITRAL (both administered and ad-hoc). He has also acted as emergency arbitrator and as sole arbitrator in expedited and fast track proceedings, and is a panel arbitrator of numerous arbitral institutions.


Ben’s experience as arbitrator spans a broad range of commercial disputes, including sale of goods, joint venture and shareholder disputes, intellectual property and licensing disputes, construction and infrastructure projects, energy and resources, shipping and shipbuilding, automobile and heavy machinery manufacturing, agency and distributorship agreements and general contractual disputes. He has heard cases governed by the laws of Australia, Austria, China, England and Wales, Fiji, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Mongolia, New York, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia (including Sharia), Singapore, Switzerland, Taiwan, the United States (including New York, California and US territories) and Vietnam, as well as lex mercatoria. He has also handled complex conflict of law and jurisdictional issues, joinder applications and disputes involving multiple contracts and applicable laws.   


Chambers and Partners recognizes Ben as a “Most in Demand Arbitrator” in the Asia-Pacific Region:


Benjamin Hughes is a Seoul-based independent arbitrator who acts regularly on an impressively varied range of cases. Sources describe him as a "very practical, thoughtful and incisive" practitioner who "thinks things through carefully and is very clear on what he thinks the answer is and the way to go forward." Having turned to sitting full-time as an arbitrator in 2013, after over a decade in private practice, it is predicted that "it won't be long before he is highly sought after."    


Ben is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, the Hong Kong Institute of Arbitrators, the Singapore Institute of Arbitrators and the Australian Centre for International Commercial Arbitration. He taught extensively in the field of international dispute resolution prior to joining the law faculty at SNU, including as visiting professor at the University of Hong Kong Faculty of Law and as adjunct professor at Korea University School of Law and the Korean Judicial Research and Training Institute. 


Ben is a member of the ICC Task Force on Emergency Arbitration, the International Arbitration Committee of the KCAB, the International Advisory Committee and the Executive Committee of the SIDRC, and was the founding chair of the Korea Chapter of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators. In 2011, Mayor Won-Soon Park made Ben an honorary citizen of Seoul in recognition of his contributions to the legal community.


Ben was educated in both the civil law and the common law traditions, having studied first at Seoul National University College of Law (MA, all coursework in Korean), and then at NYU School of Law (JD). While at NYU, he spent one semester at the University of Palermo Law School in Buenos Aires, Argentina (all coursework in Spanish). He also studied Chinese (Mandarin) in Beijing and East Asian history at Harvard University.