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GAR 100 - 11th Edition

Pestalozzi

04 April 2018

Instructed by Turkmenistan for a €1.5 billion gas dispute

People in Future Leaders 3
Pending cases as counsel 28
Value of pending counsel work US$4.5 billion+
Treaty cases 1
Current arbitrator appointments 14 (of which 8 are as sole or chair)
Lawyers sitting as arbitrator 6

Though the firm dates back 100 years, Pestalozzi’s arbitration practice was established just over 25 years ago, flourishing under the care of respected arbitrator Pierre Karrer.

He left the firm some years ago to establish his own boutique but the team has continued to boast one of the largest arbitration practices in Switzerland, with as many as 30 lawyers in the practice. It has offices in Zurich and Geneva.

Several members of the team sit regularly as arbitrators, particularly Laurent Killias, Thomas Rohner and Michael Kramer, the Zurich-based chair of the firm and a leading figure in the team. Kramer is a member of the Arbitration Court of the Swiss Chambers’ Arbitration Institute, while Killias is part of the arbitration committee at ICC Switzerland.

Another name to know is Christophe Emonet, the Geneva-based head of litigation and arbitration.

In 2015, two other partners joined in Geneva from Python & Peter: Thomas Legler and Beat Mumenthaler.

Who uses it?

The firm has a long-standing relationship with Glencore, which often uses it for disputes work. Other clients include Johnson & Johnson, insurer Swiss Life, retail group Coop Cooperative, German engineering group Bosch, as well as various Swiss and international financial institutions.

It has also paired with White & Case to defend Thailand-based latex glove producer Siam Sempermed in a Swiss arbitration brought by one of its shareholders, Austria’s Semperit.

Track record

The firm has acted for the claimant in one of the largest cases before the Swiss Chambers Arbitration Institute, worth more than US$1.5 billion. As part of that dispute, it won a rare set-aside decision from the Swiss Federal Supreme Court.

It has obtained annulments in another case, which marked the first time the Swiss court has set aside two awards in the same dispute. One award was annulled in 2014 and the other in 2016, after the court found the arbitrators had ignored its guidance and merely affirmed their earlier findings.

In another Swiss court action, it helped a unit of Bosch successfully defend an ICC award in a dispute with Italian engineering firm Piacentini over liability for a ship-lift accident at the port of Livorno.

Recent events

Turkmenistan’s national gas company Türkmengaz retained the firm as co-counsel alongside Curtis Mallet-Prevost Colt & Mosle for an ICC arbitration against the National Iranian Gas Company. The dispute concerns an alleged €1.54 billion debt for gas deliveries from Turkmenistan to Iran.

Michèle Burnier was promoted to partner in Geneva.

Client comment

Elliot Friedman of Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer used the firm as co-counsel in a pharmaceuticals dispute worth hundreds of millions, in which the client prevailed. He says Pestalozzi was “responsive, commercial and provided very clear and concise advice”.

He notes that Laurent Killias was a “low key but very effective communicator and advocate” and describes Matthias Wiget as being “highly responsive and analytical.”

The in-house counsel of a pharmaceutical company of whom the firm represented says that Pestalozzi’s “performance was spotless and of the highest quality.” He commends the performance of Thomas Rohner, who is a “skilled arbitration lawyer.”

Insight

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