This Hong Kong boutique has Swedish roots.
- Current arbitrator appointments:
- 5 (of which 3 are as sole or chair)
- No. of lawyers sitting as arbitrator:
The founders of this Hong Kong boutique go way back – they met at Vinge in Stockholm as young lawyers. Paulo Fohlin practised there for 23 years, moving to Hong Kong in 2007 as the firm’s resident partner in the region. However, Kristian Odebjer, a transactional lawyer, left to become an investment banker at UBS in the US and later an in-house counsel for a Hong Kong company.
The two Swedes reunited in 2011 to establish Odebjer Fohlin. Fohlin, for his part, was keen to increase his opportunities as an arbitrator (conflicts at Vinge prevented him from accepting about 50 per cent of potential appointments), while Odebjer wanted to return to private practice.
Why Hong Kong? Because of the Sweden-China special relationship: it turns out they also go way back. Sweden was the first western country to establish diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China in 1950, and the two countries remain major trading partners today (Ikea, Electrolux, HM and Sony Ericsson are household names in China). Moreover, Sweden is a popular choice of seat for Chinese firms when agreeing to international arbitration. The firm plans to develop a niche in disputes concerning Sweden, Hong Kong, China and the wider Asia-Pacific region.
Fohlin’s experience spans commercial and investment arbitration. In commercial arbitrations, he has advised African, European and Chinese parties (he recently represented a Hong Kong company in an ad hoc arbitration against an Italian company).
On the investment arbitration side, he is currently acting as counsel for Spanish investors in the now bankrupt Russian oil company Yukos, in Swedish court proceedings brought by the Russian Federation. The case before the Svea Court of Appeal in Stockholm concerns whether the Spanish investors can bring a claim against Russia under the Spain-Russia bilateral investment treaty. In parallel arbitration proceedings between the investors and Russia in Sweden, Fohlin is working as adviser to Covington & Burling.
He worked with Covington & Burling too on a case for Newmont Mining Company in an SCC investment arbitration in Stockholm against Uzbekistan.
Fohlin has been sole arbitrator, chairman and co-arbitrator in institutional and ad hoc arbitrations in Hong Kong and other Asian cities, and is on the panels of arbitrators at the HKIAC, CIETAC, KCAB and KLRCA (Kuala Lumpur).