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GAR 100 - 11th Edition

Hengeler Mueller

05 April 2018

Besides acting in Germany’s biggest arbitration, the firm is involved in ECJ proceedings that could determine the fate of intra-EU investment treaties

People in Who’s Who Legal 1
People in Future Leaders 1
Pending cases as counsel 17
Value of pending counsel work US$9.5 billion
Treaty cases 0
Current arbitrator appointments
12 (of which 4 are 
as sole or chair)
Lawyers sitting as arbitrator 4

A leading German independent firm, Hengeler Mueller was the result of a 1990 merger between firms based in Düsseldorf and Frankfurt.

The arbitration team includes Peter Heckel and Markus Meier in Frankfurt, Henning Bälz and Johanna Wirth in Berlin and Gerhard Lang in Munich.

Heckel, Bälz and Wirth are representing Deutsche Telekom in a US$9 billion ad hoc arbitration brought by the German government against Toll Collect, a consortium tasked with creating a toll-collection system on German highways. The case has been described by a US publication as Germany’s largest arbitration to date. The team also acts for the consortium in a parallel case against the German government.

Network

The practice is concentrated in Frankfurt, Munich and Berlin. The firm also has an office in Düsseldorf and bases in London, Brussels and Shanghai. It maintains “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 were incompatible with EU law. The matter is now pending with 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.

Going further back, 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 at the German Institute of Arbitration (DIS) and successfully defended a major German bus maker in an ICC case brought by a Spanish construction company under a research and development agreement.

It has been acting for Siemens in an ICC dispute relating to an infrastructure project in South America.

Hengeler Mueller represented Varroc Engineering before the Higher Regional Court in Stuttgart to enforce an arbitral award against a German party that it obtained in an ICC arbitration proceeding seated in Singapore.

Finally, there was a positive sign for its client in the Achmea v Slovakia case in September 2017 when the ECJ’s advocate general Melchior Wathelet opined that the investor-state arbitration provisions in the Netherlands-Slovakia bilateral investment treaty are compatible with EU law. Whether the ECJ judges agree with that opinion remains to be seen.

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