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GAR 100 - 4th Edition

Vinge

21 February 2011

Vinge had an international dispute resolution practice even back in the days it was mostly a M&A firm: its late partner Robert Romlöv in Gothenburg was an early adviser on ICSID arbitration.

People in Who’s Who:
3
Pending cases as counsel:
23
Value of pending counsel work:
US$1.23 billion
Treaty cases:
2
Current arbitrator appointments:
13 (of which 9 are as sole or chair)
No. of lawyers sitting as arbitrator:
5

Romlöv led a team that represented the Dutch investor CME in a ground breaking treaty arbitration with the Czech Republic. The case ended in 2003 after the firm successfully defended a challenge to the award in a Swedish court. After it decided to become full service, the arbitration team was one of the bits to be built up.

In 2009, the firm poached a rival’s core international arbitration team – adding among others the chair of the board of the SCC Institute, Johan Gernandt. Those arrivals helped to offset the loss of a senior figure (Hans Bagner, now at a boutique). These days the firm is also home to English-qualified lawyer James Hope, a respected younger lawyer from London who moved to Sweden in 2006.

Christer Söderlund, another of Romlov’s protégés, remains a key figure.

Network

The arbitration group is present in Stockholm, Gothenburg, Malmo and – following the relocation of Paulo Fohlin – Hong Kong. There are also offices in Brussels and Shanghai.

Who uses it?

Wahaha, one of China’s biggest food firms, retained the firm – in the form of Johan Gernandt – for an arbitration at the SCC against Danone. The row was one of the first between a Western brand name and its Chinese joint venture since China’s economy moved centre stage.

Other recent clients include Baltiysky Zavod (a Russian shipyard) Naftogaz, and the Russian shareholders on one side of theTNK-BP joint venture.

Big wins

In Danone v Wahaha, Vinge and its Chinese co-counsel reportedly won six out of eight claims. The case settled just before the award came out. Reports indicate that Danone agreed to sell its stake for about €300 million.

In another case, the opposition’s key witness felt obliged to apologise to the arbitrators for his poor performance in the face of Vinge’s cross-examination. The matter settled the next day.

Recent events

Christer Söderlund was at the heart of a controversial annulment decisions in 2010. He was president of the committee in Sempra v Argentina, which annulled a US$175 million award won by the US energy company.

Söderlund was also president of an ad hoc committee in Eduardo Vieira v Chile. In that, the committee upheld the award, which had been rendered in favour of Chile.

In other news, James Hope – a regular contributor to GAR’s Global Briefing – was elected to the executive committee of the Swedish Arbitration Association. One of the team that joined the firm in 2009, Jonas Eklund, was promoted to partner at the start of 2011.

Client comment

Jerry Bauer of Kato Investment gave his backing for the team and in particular its partner in China, Paulo Fohlin. Bauer used the firm on a case requiring “intense research” – to which the practice “responded unlike any firm I have seen”. Bauer said he was impressed with the degree to which the firm’s lawyers grasped the wider business dimension. “They provided excellent value and I’d definitely recommend them,” he said, adding, “Paulo Fohlin was among the best lawyers I’ve ever dealt with.”

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