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GAR 100 - 10th Edition

Hengeler Mueller

09 March 2017

Acting in a US$9 billion toll road dispute that has been called Germany’s largest arbitration

People in Who’s Who Legal 1
Pending cases as counsel 16
Value of pending counsel work US$9.5 billion
Treaty cases 0
Current arbitrator appointments 4 (of which 3 are as sole or chair)
Lawyers sitting as arbitrator 3

A leading German independent firm, Hengeler Mueller is the result of a 1990 merger between Hengeler Kurth Wirtz in Düsseldorf and Mueller Weitzel Weisner in Frankfurt. 

The firm’s best-known arbitration practitioners are Peter Heckel and Markus Meier in Frankfurt, Henning Bälz in Berlin and Gerhard Lang in Munich. Heckel and Bälz are part of the team defending Deutsche Telekom in the ”Toll Collect” dispute – a US$9 billion ad hoc arbitration brought by the German government against the consortium tasked with creating a toll-collection system on German highways. The case has been described as the largest arbitration in Germany to date. 

Network

The firm has four offices in Germany and others in London, Brussels and Shanghai. It has a “best-friends” relationships with other GAR 100 firms such as De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek in the Netherlands, BonelliErede in Italy, Bredin Prat in France, and Slaughter and May in the UK.

Who uses it?

Leading German and international names have turned to the firm, including Siemens, Deutsche Telekom, Bayer and EWE, as well as French insurer AXA. The firm also has a large base of blue-chip corporate clients, including Deutsche Bank, the World Bank and Merrill Lynch. The team is well known for representing car manufacturers such as General Motors, Porsche, Pirelli and Opel.

Track record

Hengeler Mueller successfully defended a major German bank and payment services provider in an ICC arbitration seated in Cologne concerning credit card transactions that also spawned multi-jurisdictional litigation.

The firm has a solid track record for defending arbitral awards in the German courts. In 2014, it persuaded a Frankfurt court to uphold a €22 million investment treaty award in favour of Dutch insurer Achmea in the face of arguments by Slovakia that intra-EU investment treaties are incompatible with EU law. The matter has now been referred to the European Court of Justice.

In the same year, it helped German technology provider GEA Group to defeat a Frankfurt court action that sought to have an arbitration declared inadmissible. That dispute has now settled. (See ‘Recent events’.) 

It has also helped German car parts maker Varroc Engineering enforce an ICC award against a German party in the courts of Stuttgart.

Going further bank, the firm acted for Canada’s Bombardier in a post-M&A dispute with DaimlerChrysler over the sale of a rail systems business. It settled in 2001 with Daimler agreeing to adjust the purchase price in Bombardier’s favour by US$170 million.

Recent events

The firm helped a major US technology company settle a dispute heard at the German Institution of Arbitration (DIS); and successfully defended a major German busmaker in an ICC case brought by a Spanish construction company under a research and development agreement.

It also helped GEA Group negotiate a settlement with US supplier Flex-n-Gate, ending a dispute that had lasted a decade and given rise to multiple arbitrations and court proceedings in the US and Germany. In addition it has been acting for Siemens in an ICC dispute relating to an infrastructure project in South America.