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GAR 100 - 5th Edition

Luther

05 March 2012

Luther is one of the first German law firms instructed on BIT cases.

People in Who’s Who:
1
Pending cases as counsel:
3
Value of pending counsel work:
US$2 billion
Current arbitrator appointments:
7 (of which 1 are as sole or chair)
No. of lawyers sitting as arbitrator:
3

One of the founding fathers of the German Institution of Arbitration, Martin Luther, established this firm in Hamburg in 1950. However, only 50 years later did its arbitration practice take off. Originally a boutique corporate firm (Martin Luther was one of the most respected corporate lawyers in post-war Germany), it was not until a merger with Arthur Andersen’s local legal division that it began to receive international arbitration work.

After the implosion of Arthur Andersen and some years with Ernst & Young, the firm became independent again. But it retained its international focus and now has 13 national and five international offices (Brussels, Budapest, Istanbul, Singapore and Shanghai).

The firm’s reputation developed in investment arbitration after it became one of the first firms in the country to be instructed on a treaty claim (Inmaris v Ukraine).

It was to Luther that Swedish energy company Vattenfall and its German subsidiaries would later turn to to bring the first ever investment arbitration against Germany – a €1.6 billion claim under the Energy Charter Treaty.

The firm has now handled two ICSID arbitrations and a third is expected soon.

The Vattenfall case settled, but Inmaris v Ukraine has cleared the jurisdictional stage – possibly widening the meaning of “investment”. (There are four claimants, only one of which had a direct contractual relationship with the respondent, a Ukrainian state authority.)

On the commercial front, the firm has recently helped Turkish clients win 10 out of 12 ICC arbitrations.

Hamburg-based Ulrich Theune established the arbitration practice, which is now co-chaired by Richard Happ in Hamburg and

Réne-Alexander Hirth in Stuttgart. Happ was lead counsel on the Vattenfall case; Hirth specialises in Asian arbitrations, having previously headed the Singapore office of another German law firm for many years. Jutta Wittler, in Cologne, specialises in international construction arbitration. All serve as arbitrators – mostly in commercial cases – apart from Happ, who also sits on investment panels.

Recent events

The arbitration team has now broken away from the wider dispute resolution team to become an independent practice group.

The Hamburg office is about to be reinforced, the firm says, with a laterally recruited maritime arbitration partner and his team. Meanwhile, the Stuttgart office has added a Chinese lawyer, Guang Li, who speaks fluent German.

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