Founded more than 50 years ago, Schönherr is part of the Austrian establishment.
As such, it has long been counsel to numerous big name companies from the CIS region disputes. In 2000, the firm decided to expand its service to include a focused international arbitration practice.
Hellwig Torggler and Gerold Zeiler co-promoted the idea, and led the training programme that it required (the firm opted to train its own lawyers rather than make lateral hires). Torggler has since moved on to become a full-time arbitrator. Zeiler now leads a cross-border group covering central and eastern Europe. He is a board member of the Austrian Arbitration Association and co-editor of a local arbitration yearbook.
Other key partners in the group are Sebastian Gutiu in Bucharest and Matija Vojnovic´ in Belgrade.
The Austrian firm began expanding eastwards in 1996 and is now open in 11 cities across the CIS, the Balkans, Poland and Ukraine.
Who uses it?
The arbitration group’s focus is on energy or investment work – much of it related to central and eastern Europe.
At present, it is acting for German energy group RWE in various oil and gas arbitrations. It also represents the governments of the Czech Republic, Montenegro and Republika Srpska in disputes arising from investments in the energy field, real estate development and other matters.
The firm scored a big win for the government of Republika Srpska in a case against Czech energy conglomerate CEZ. After an extensive jurisdictional phase, the tribunal dismissed CEZ’s claim against Srpska for lack of jurisdiction. The arbitration is proceeding against two other respondents.
2011 saw Alfred Siwy join as junior partner and Lisa Barbara Beisteiner at senior associate level.