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GAR 100 - 11th Edition

Mannheimer Swartling

05 April 2018

Scored significant defence wins for Total and Jordan

People in Who’s Who Legal 3
People in Future Leaders 1
Pending cases as counsel 60
Value of pending counsel work US$25 billion
Treaty cases 5
Current arbitrator appointments 11 (of which 5 are as sole or chair)
Lawyers sitting as arbitrator 4

Sweden has blessed and encouraged private dispute resolution for years (since its first civil code). But 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.

Long-term team practice leader Kaj Hobér left the firm in 2014. These days the dispute resolution group co-chaired by Kristoffer Löf in Stockholm and Fredrik Andersson in Gothenburg. The team includes 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.

Network

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.

Track record

One of the firm’s biggest victories came in 2017, when it helped a Total subsidiary to defeat a US$22 billion UNCITRAL claim brought by two Russian provinces. In related proceedings, it won a landmark Swiss Supreme Court decision that has helped to clarify the scope of the Swedish courts’ ability to review arbitral tribunals’ jurisdiction. The firm acted as co-counsel alongside Linklaters in Paris and another Swedish firm, Vinge.

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.

Recent events

Mannheimer Swartling achieved a terrific result for Jordan in February 2018, when an UNCITRAL tribunal dismissed virtually all of a US$460 million claim against the state over the construction of a water conveyance system. While the claimant was awarded a little over US$2.5 million, the tribunal upheld all Jordan’s counterclaims and awarded the state US$10 million in damages for project delays and US$12 million in legal costs. Jordanian firm Aljazy & Co co-counselled on the case.

Swedish investment vehicle EcoDevelopment retained the firm for an ICSID claim against Tanzania concerning the revocation of the land title for a project to produce sugar for use as a renewable fuel.

The firm continues to represent businessman Ioan Micula in an ICSID claim against Romania over the state’s alleged failure to police the alcohol black market.

It is also representing Kazakhstan in its efforts to resist enforcement of a US$320 million award in favour of Moldovan investors Anatole and Gabriel Stati. The brothers have succeeded in freezing Kazakh shareholdings in various Swedish companies.

Azadeh Razani was promoted to partner in Stockholm at the start of 2018. Pär Andersson retired from the partnership but retains a senior adviser role at the firm.

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