The German firm is increasingly focused on insolvency-related arbitrations as well as disputes in Asia
|People in Who’s Who Legal||2|
|People in Future Leaders||2|
|Pending cases as counsel||10|
|Value of pending counsel work||US$256 million|
|Current arbitrator appointments||
1 (of which 0 are
as sole or chair)
|Lawyers sitting as arbitrator||1|
Gleiss Lutz started as an antitrust boutique in Stuttgart in 1949. It opened in Brussels 13 years later and began an evolution into a full-service firm, adding international offices, and entering an alliance with Stibbe and Herbert Smith that lasted until 2011.
Experienced arbitrator Gerhard Wegen joined in 1983 and built the firm’s name in this area. In 1997, Stephan Wilske joined and an arbitration group was formed, which he still heads. The wider dispute resolution team is led by Stefan Rützel in Frankfurt. Another name to know is Lars Markert in Stuttgart, who returned to the firm in 2015 after two years on secondment with Japan’s largest firm, Nishimura & Asahi.
The firm built its arbitration specialism on the back of its renowned competition law practice – which should bear fruit now that arbitration is tipped to be the new preferred forum for cartel damage claims.
Gleiss Lutz has also developed a specialism in arbitrations that involve insolvent parties, or issues related to insolvency, drawing on the expertise of its corporate restructuring group.
International arbitration capability is concentrated in Stuttgart, Frankfurt and Munich (where partner Wolf von Bernuth moved with a team in 2013). The Stuttgart office, with two US attorneys at law, offers common law as well as civil law expertise. In Düsseldorf, the firm has partner David Quinke, a member of the DIS, Germany’s main arbitral institution, who helped to draft the institution’s new arbitration rules.
The firm’s reach also extends to China, Japan, Korea and Taiwan thanks to the strong connections to the Asian arbitration market that Markert built during his secondment there.
Gleiss Lutz was the first German law firm to bring an investment treaty claim – against Turkmenistan. German client Adem Dogan won a €9 million award in 2014 when a tribunal concluded that Turkmenistan had expropriated his interest in the revenue of a poultry farm.
The firm is now acting in another potential claim against Turkmenistan on behalf of the the insolvency administrator of a German construction company that allegedly went bankrupt because of the state’s failure to pay for certain projects.
It also acted for a group of Korean energy companies against a German insolvency administrator in a DIS case that ended with the client having to pay only 25% of a purchase price adjustment sought by the opposing side.
Gleiss Lutz has been retained to represent a wind-farm developer in a €24 million dispute over the delayed delivery of an offshore substation, with an anticipated counterclaim of €50 million. It is also acting in a dispute involving US and German companies concerning the delivery and installation of food-processing machinery.
Wilske and Markert are co-counsel, with an English law firm, for a US software manufacturer in a cartel damages action against Japanese and Korean manufacturers of smartphone batteries. US litigation has been stayed while a tribunal determines whether one of the arbitration clauses allows cartel damages claims to be arbitrated.
Markert is representing a Japanese pharmaceutical group in a US$25 million dispute over an exclusive distributorship agreement (he took the case on while on secondment with Nishimura & Asahi, which remains as co-counsel).
As arbitrator, Stefan Rützel was part of an UNCITRAL panel seated in Vienna that dismissed the bulk of a €650 million claim against Montenegro. The claim was brought by members of Russian businessman Oleg Deripaska’s En+ Group.
Laura Bräuninger and Lukas Schultze-Moderow were promoted to associated partners in July 2017.
Jenny Dvorak, in-house counsel for Groz-Beckert KG, describes the team as “well organised, well prepared” and “always available to discuss matters”. She notes that the firm was able to stay objective during an arbitration that raised strong emotions on the opposing side.
An in-house source at POWRX, an exercise machine company which used Gleiss Lutz for a South Korean arbitration, reports that the team negotiated “a cost-efficient and pragmatic solution that allowed both parties to successfully keep on doing business”.
After Gleiss Lutz secured a favourable outcome for a German producer of specialist construction machinery, a senior manager said: “Stephan Wilske was always in control of all issues – his strategic advice worked out well – and Lars Markert did a great job on the damages.”