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Donny is a commercial arbitrator and mediator based in Toronto, Canada. He also practises internationally as counsel and arbitrator with particular focus on North America, the United Kingdom, India and South East Asia.  He is a dual-qualified barrister (England and Ontario), and has over 25 years of legal and business experience.

He accepts instructions to act as a neutral or as a party representative in international commercial arbitration and in mediation.  He also supports parties in making decisions amidst legal risk with Decision Analysis techniques. He is a Door Tenant at Crown Office Chambers, UK, and practises in Ontario through DDRS Law Professional Corporation. He is a roster member at Arbitration Place in Toronto and co-chair of Canada's premier arbitration conference series, CanArbWeek.

He was formerly a partner at Herbert Smith Freehills, having spent 15 years in their London office.  His legal practice focuses on complex commercial arbitration and litigation in the financial services, private equity, energy and telecommunications sectors, and has included an in-house secondment to a large conglomerate business based in Mumbai, India, with interests in energy, power, shipping and construction. 

Prior to his legal career, Donny was a Chartered Management Accountant and worked in the energy industry in finance and treasury.  As such, his legal practice has often involved M&A and shareholder claims, banking disputes, accounting fraud issues and disputes with complex quantum or valuation aspects.


Donny has experience of living and working in Canada, England, India and Sri Lanka, and is a graduate of the London School of Economics, and a solicitor-advocate and barrister in England & Wales.  He is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, a mediator accredited by the Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution in London, and a member of the ICC Canada arbitration committee. He served on the ICC's Task Force on Arbitration and ADR (2020-2023). 


He also serves as a Senior Advisor to the Investment Committee of a well-known litigation fund based in London, and has been a guest lecturer at Queen Mary University of London, Osgoode Hall Law School, Toronto and the International Academy of Financial Crime Litigators.

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Donny Surtani

 Arbitrator, Mediator, Counsel


Called to the Bar:

England and Ontario

Other memberships/accreditations:

Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (Fellow)

ICC Canada Arbitration Committee (Member)

Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution (Accredited Mediator)

Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (former Associate Member)

Click here for Arbitration Place roster profile page

Click here for Crown Office Chambers (UK) page


Talks and seminars
  • Using the Full ADR Toolkit in Shareholder Disputes - IAMC seminar, Hyderabad, India (November 2023) speaker

  • Arbitration in the Insolvency Context - lecture at NALSAR Law School, Telangana, India (November 2023)

  • Exploring Canada-Asia Dispute Resolution Opportunities - CanArbWeek SIAC panel, Toronto, Canada (October 2023) panellist

  • Cross-border Enforcement of Arbitral Awards: Beyond the New York Convention - World Law Alliance online seminar (November 2022) panellist

  • Key developments in arbitration case law - Informa India Disputes Conference, London, England (November 2022) panellist 

  • Data Analytics for lawyers - British Columbia Legal Education Society course (June 2022) panellist

  • Arbitrating banking disputes: addressing the needs of the financial services sector - CanArbWeek seminar, Toronto, Canada (September 2021) moderator

  • 2020 in Review: Dispute resolution perspectives from across the globe - ACC and Nishith Desai Associates seminar (March 2021) panellist

  • Mediation Skills Training Series for Litigators - SABA Toronto virtual seminar series (November 2020) co-chair

  • Managing Dispute Risk in India-related commercial contracts - SABANA virtual seminar (October 2020) panellist

  • Expert-led damages assessments in international arbitration - CanArbWeek seminar, Toronto, Canada (September 2020) moderator

  • Decision Analysis in Fraud Disputes IAFCL seminar, Toronto, Canada (May 2020) keynote speaker

  • Commercial Litigation Summit by Legal Business - London, England (July 2019) panellist

  • GlenLegal Conference on Legal IT - Gleneagles, Scotland (March 2019) panellist

  • Global Pound Conversation roundtable - Hong Kong (February 2019) keynote speaker

  • International Mediation seminar - Bombay Chamber of Commerce, Mumbai (October 2018) speaker

  • Damages 2018: Recognising your options beyond discounted cash flow by Cornerstone Research - London, England (June 2018) panellist

  • Managing Risk: a Disputes perspective by Herbert Smith Freehills - London, England (May 2017) speaker

  • Various client and internal training and professional education engagements for HSF and other firms in North America, Europe and Asia

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