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GAR 100 - 5th Edition

Bär & Karrer

05 March 2012

The Swiss firm helped to produce some of the bigger wins seen in 2011

Who’s Who name:
Marc Blessing

Tracing its roots to 1938, the firm is the home of honorary president of the Swiss Arbitration Association, Marc Blessing. In addition to his work as counsel, Blessing regularly practises as an arbitrator – he was part of the tribunal that heard a recent dispute between Czech bank CSOB and the Czech Republic.

Originating in Zurich, the firm opened in Lugano, Zug and Geneva in the 1990s. In addition to its own client base, the firm is popular with international law firms as co-counsel. Speaking to GAR in 2008, Daniel Hochstrasser said that he is always surprised when he sees a non-Swiss firm attempt to handle a Swiss-seated arbitration without local counsel. “It’s a game in which they do not know the rules, not all of which are written – and I have seen it lead to potential liability cases,” he explained.

Recent clients of the firm include France’s nuclear company, Areva, in its dispute against Siemens over a collapsed joint venture. The firm is advising as co-counsel with Gide Loyrette Nouel.

The firm is also part of a team advising a subsidiary of Nordic telecoms company TeliaSonera in its dispute against Cukurova for breach of the terms of a purchase agreement. Sullivan & Cromwell and Hergüner Bilgen Özeke Attorney Partnership are the other firms working the case.

Recent events

Felix Ehrat stepped down as senior partner to become general counsel of pharmaceutical company Novartis. He has been replaced by Zurich-based Daniel Hochstrasser, head of the firm’s international arbitration practice, who has been with the firm since 1993.

It was a good year when it came to results. In the Areva case, Siemens was ordered to pay the French company over US$920 million for breach of the joint venture agreement.

The firm secured another win in the TeliaSonera case – Cukorova Holdings was ordered to pay US$932 million plus interest in damages for failure to deliver outstanding shares under the terms of the purchase agreement.

On top of those, in a case at the Court of Arbitration for Sport, partner Saverio Lembo, together with associates Andrew Garbarski and Vincent Guignet, helped UEFA win a dispute with FC Sion, concerning the sanctions for use of non-eligible players in UEFA play-off games. A panel of CAS arbitrators upheld the sanctions that UEFA had imposed on the Swiss football team, holding that the team should not be reintegrated in the UEFA Europa League 2011/2012.

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