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GAR 100 - 13th Edition

Pestalozzi

17 April 2020

Co-counsel in a multibillion-dollar dispute over a debt for gas deliveries

People in Who's Who Legal 1
People in Future Leaders 3
Pending cases as counsel 30
Value of pending counsel work US$4.8 billion+
Treaty cases 0
Third-party funded cases 0
Current arbitrator appointments 8 (0 as chair or sole)
Lawyers sitting as arbitrator 4

Though the firm dates back 100 years, Pestalozzi’s arbitration practice was established around 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.

The practice co-heads are Michael Kramer in Zurich and Thomas Legler in Geneva. Kramer is a member of the Arbitration Court of the Swiss Chambers’ Arbitration Institute, while Legler is a member of the ICC Swiss national committee and also features on the World Trade Organization’s arbitrator list.

Other names to know include Zurich arbitration group leader Laurent Killias, a co-founder of the Swiss Arbitration Academy and a member of the ICC Commission on Arbitration, and partner Christophe Emonet, who heads the Geneva litigation and arbitration group.

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, France’s Bouygues Construction 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.

Another client is the Indian government.

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.

Pestalozzi represented the Indian government in a challenge before the Swiss Federal Tribunal to an investment treaty award in favour of Deutsche Telekom. The high-profile case saw the court conduct a rare public deliberation before upholding the award by a three-to-two majority in 2018.

Recent events

The firm is co-counselling with Curtis Mallet-Prevost Colt & Mosle to represent Turkmenistan’s national gas company Türkmengaz in a multibillion-dollar ICC arbitration with the National Iranian Gas Company over an alleged debt for gas deliveries.

It continues to team up with Clifford Chance to represent Bouygues in a dispute worth more than 200 million Swiss francs with Swiss energy company Alpiq before the Swiss Chambers. The client seeks a purchase price adjustment following its €750 million acquisition of Alpiq’s engineering services business in 2018.

Client comment

Gerrit Dekker of Aspetix Health Services in Netherlands says he has had one of the best experiences with legal advice in litigation with Pestalozzi. Thomas Legler is commended for being hands-on, practical and efficient.

Having retained the firm in a breach of contract dispute against a Swiss corporation, the client says Legler provided “clear” and “well-motivated” advice on litigation strategy.

Dow Chemical’s lead counsel Francisco Castillo recommends with his “highest consideration” Thomas Rohner for all arbitration-related matters and Christoph Lang for commercial issues.

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