Hugh Verrier, chair of White & Case.

White & Case has launched a dispute resolution-focused office in Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan in Central Asia.

The move comes after the firm’s chair, Hugh Verrier, stated in 2015 that White & Case would prioritize growth in disputes alongside capital markets and M&A as part of its 2020 strategy.

“Our new office in Tashkent underlines our commitment to our Uzbek clients, and to our international clients who are taking advantage of increasing opportunities to invest in the country,” Verrier said.

The move comes as Uzbekistan president Shavkat Mirziyoyev, who was elected in 2016, is believed to be slowly moving toward liberalization. “Uzbekistan is increasingly open for business following the election of President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, and we will continue to work with the government, state-owned entities and private sector clients,” said Washington disputes partner Carolyn Lamm.

She added the firm anticipates further opportunities for its arbitration, project finance, and M&A lawyers to advise on deals and disputes in such sectors as oil and gas, petrochemicals, power, infrastructure, construction, mining, telecoms and automotive.

Lamm is a member of the firm’s Washington disputes team that has advised the Uzbek government and foreign investors on international arbitration and trade matters since the early 1990s.

Several partners, including Lamm, New York-based litigation lawyer Scott Hershman and London-based project finance lawyer Kamilla Azamat, will spend “significant time” in the new office.

A small number of Uzbek-qualified lawyers will also join the office.

The firm’s Tashkent office will be supported by White & Case lawyers in Washington, New York, London, Moscow and Astana in Kazakhstan.

In 2016, White & Case restructured its operations in Western and Central Asia leading to the closure of its Almaty office in Kazakhstan. It also changed its relationship in Turkey with Ankara firm Cakmak Avukatlik Burosu from an association to a formalized best friend alliance.