A Swiss “nano-firm” acting in some impressively large cases
|People in Who’s Who Legal||1|
|Pending cases as counsel||5|
|Value of pending counsel work||US$8.37 billion|
|Current arbitrator appointments||16 (of which 4 are as sole or chair)|
|Lawyers sitting as arbitrator||3|
Established in 2008, this Geneva boutique is led by Dominique Brown-Berset, a past president of ArbitralWomen who regularly sits as arbitrator at the ICC and the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
The team has experience in international commercial arbitration and litigation, energy and environmental law, as well as public international law. They are regularly seen partnering with international law firms on cases in Switzerland, either providing Swiss law input or specialist advice on international arbitration and PIL. The firm is sometimes brought in to provide a second opinion on cases where it isn’t counsel of record.
Despite its small size, Brown&Page handles some impressively high-stakes disputes. Its cases are often resolved pre-hearing, a matter on which the firm prides itself.
Other names to know are Isabelle Fellrath, a junior partner who joined in 2016 from Swiss firm Tavernier Tschanz, and Diane Vallée-Grisel. The firm also collaborates with Geneva-based academic Laurence Boisson de Chazournes, an associate member of Matrix Chambers who also sits as arbitrator in investor-state cases.
Besides the Geneva office, Brown&Page has an office in the Swiss city of Nyon, making it well placed to serve the fast-growing technology and biotech industry there.
Who uses it?
Swiss bar rules mean the firm won’t give anything away about its clients. However, it is believed to be advising the Israeli government in a multibillion-dollar dispute with the National Iranian Oil Company over an abandoned oil pipeline venture. The politically sensitive dispute has been quietly playing out over more than two decades in various arbitrations and court actions.
Other clients on the public record include France’s EDF International and Medex Petroleum.
In a rare public example of the firm’s work, it helped EDF successfully defend a €107 million Energy Charter Treaty award against Hungary over the early termination of power purchase agreements. The Swiss Supreme Court upheld the award in 2015, rejecting Hungary’s arguments that it was incompatible with EU law. Shearman & Sterling represented EDF in the arbitration.
The firm successfully co-counselled the former owner of a bank as respondent in a post-M&A dispute, with an ICC tribunal dismissing seven out of eight claims brought by the bank’s new owners in a 2017 award.
As part of its work for Israel, the firm appeared before the Swiss Supreme Court in a challenge to a US$1.2 billion award that compensated the National Iranian Oil Company for oil deliveries pre-dating Iran’s Islamic revolution of 1979. The award was upheld but a related and much bigger arbitration is pending.
Brown&Page has been advising Medex Petroleum in an UNCITRAL claim against Algeria’s national oil and gas company Sonatrach concerning contracts for two oilfields. The client won an early round of the dispute when it persuaded the Swiss Supreme Court to stay the arbitration on the ground that a conciliation process had been prematurely ended. However, the arbitration has since resumed and led to a partial award that Sonatrach says was in its favour. Other claims by Medex are still to be decided.
In one of the cases in which it was co-counsel, merit hearings scheduled to take place in Istanbul had to be called off because of flight cancellations in the wake of the attempted military coup in Turkey in July 2016.