Sweden’s premier arbitration outfit continues to act on high-stakes energy matters
|People in Who’s Who Legal||2|
|Pending cases as counsel||Approximately 60|
|Value of pending counsel work||US$45 billion|
|Current arbitrator appointments||14 (of which 10 are as sole or chair)|
|Lawyers sitting as arbitrator||7|
Sweden has blessed and encouraged private dispute resolution for years (since its first civil code). A twist of fate in the 1970s made Stockholm a hub for international arbitration, after the United States and USSR decided the SCC would be a good place to settle trade disputes. In the 1980s, China followed suit. Even today, local companies prefer arbitration over litigation for local disputes.
Swedish law firms therefore have arbitration in their DNA – and none more so than Mannheimer Swartling.
The firm’s members have been at the heart of local and foreign arbitral institutions for years: Mannheimer Swartling lawyers represented Sweden on the UNCITRAL working groups that developed the Model Law, and still represent the country’s interests before the commission. The firm also acted for a number of US oil companies before the Iran-US Claims Tribunal in The Hague.
Although long-term team practice leader Kaj Hobér (Sweden’s foremost arbitrator) left the firm in 2014, there are still plenty of names to know. They include Jakob Ragnwaldh, a member of the SCC Arbitration Institute’s board who divides his time between Sweden and Hong Kong; and Robin Oldenstam, an ICC Court member and former president of the Swedish Arbitration Association.
The dispute resolution group is co-chaired by Kristoffer Löf in Stockholm and Fredrik Andersson in Gothenburg.
There are key people in Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö, and further afield in Frankfurt, Moscow and Hong Kong.
Who uses it?
The firm is shy about mentioning clients, which can range from energy firms to Italian goods makers. A common theme is usually a Russian, Chinese or Nordic angle. Some clients it’s known to have advised include Vattenfall, Total, Endesa, Stena RoRo, Edison, Norwegian chemicals company Yara, Kazakhstan, Jordan and Lithuania’s energy ministry.
It featured on a list of 15 firms announced by China as its preferred counsel in investment disputes.
The firm helped RosInvestCo, a unit of private equity firm Elliott Associates, win a landmark investment treaty claim against Russia over the expropriation of Yukos Oil Company. The damages won were quite small – US$3.5 million – but it was the first time Russia had been held liable for its treatment of Yukos. However, the award was subsequently set aside by the Swedish courts.
It was also the firm that Sweden’s state-owned power company Vattenfall turned to for the first-ever ICSID claim against Germany (as co-counsel with German firm Luther). The two firms have since been retained by Vattenfall for a €4.7 billion ICSID claim over Germany’s decision to hasten the phase-out of nuclear power in the wake of the Fukushima crisis in Japan.
The firm can’t talk about much of its commercial work, but it is reputed to be fairly successful. In one public matter, the team helped Swedish mobile operator Tele2 defeat a US$728 million claim over an M&A transaction. The New York-seated ICDR case ended in 2011 with the dismissal of all claims against Tele2 and a costs award of US$2 million in its favour. The award was later upheld at the seat.
The firm helped businessman Ioan Micula defend a US$250 million ICSID award against Romania in annulment proceedings, and continues to represent him and his brother in an additional ICSID claim over the state’s alleged failure to police the black market for alcohol.
The firm represented Total subsidiary Elf Neftegaz in Swedish Supreme Court proceedings that have helped to clarify the scope of the Swedish courts’ ability to review an arbitral tribunal’s jurisdiction. The case is linked to an ad hoc arbitration in which Mannheimer Swartling is also defending the Total subsidiary (alongside Vinge and Linklaters) against claims worth US$22 billion.
It has been defending the Jordanian government in a US$400 million UNCITRAL claim brought by US and Turkish investors in a gas pipeline. A three-week hearing took place in early 2017.
Acting for Kazakhstan, the firm failed to persuade a Swedish court to set aside a US$506 million Energy Charter Treaty award in favour of a group of Moldovan investors, which the state had alleged was tainted by fraud.
The firm reports the successful use of the SCC’s emergency arbitrator provisions in various disputes relating to natural gas supply contracts.
Mannheimer Swartling promoted Fredrik Ringquist to partner in Moscow.