The arbitration group at Switzerland’s largest firm is split equally between Zurich and Geneva. The group has three partners who focus exclusively on international arbitration, plus six litigation partners who spend more than half their time on arbitration-related work. Several partners often sit as arbitrators, notably Paolo Michele Patocchi and Xavier Favre-Bulle, who have each heard over 100 cases. Patocchi is part of the team defending Switzerland from a claim brought by Belgium before the International Court of Justice, relating to the Lugano Convention and Swiss bankruptcy law.
- People in Who’s Who:
- Pending cases as counsel:
- Value of pending counsel work:
- US$17.3 billion
- Treaty cases:
- Current arbitrator appointments:
- 41 (of which 22 are as sole or chair)
- No. of lawyers sitting as arbitrator:
The firm was created in 1991 from the merger of Lenz Schluep Briner & de Coulon in Geneva and Staehelin Hafter Jagmetti Lutz & Partner in Zurich. The legacy firms already had established arbitration practices, the former led by Robert Briner – a former president of the Iran-US Claims Tribunal and the ICC court – who died last year. In keeping with the current trend in Switzerland, the firm has sought to add younger lawyers with an international background. The group is proud of its links with the Swiss Arbitration Academy, and junior lawyers are given assistance if they wish to take the academy’s one-year English language course. In the firm’s most high-profile instruction of recent times, Patocchi acted as co-counsel (with WilmerHale) to Deutsche Telekom in its dispute with French media conglomerate Vivendi. Last spring the Swiss Federal Supreme Court upheld an ICC tribunal’s preliminary ruling on jurisdiction. The tribunal had declined to hear the dispute because one of the parties was involved in ongoing bankruptcy proceedings in Poland. Since then, the firm has had several more successes before the Swiss courts. In April, the Supreme Court upheld an award in favour of a US company represented by partners Harold Frey and Martin Burkhardt. The firm also reports a number of high-value commercial arbitrations, including a US$4.3 billion telecoms dispute that is being heard by an ICC tribunal chaired by L Yves Fortier CC QC. At the beginning of the 2010, the Geneva office promoted Miguel Oural, a native Spanish speaker, to partner and also added an associate.
Who's Who nominees:
- Xavier Favre-Bulle & Paolo Patocchi