“Small is beautiful”, says the Swiss boutique
This specialised dispute resolution firm was cofounded in 2008 by ex-Lalive lawyers Dominique Brown-Berset and Gérald Page. They built a team that is home to lawyers with a recognised track record in international commercial arbitration, mediation and litigation work, as well as public international law.
The firm’s focus is mainly counsel and co-counsel work. It regularly partners on cases with other international law firms in need of Swiss expertise. In that capacity, it serves as local counsel on work underway inside Switzerland, provides Swiss law input on cases underway elsewhere and – on occasion – helps to run a case for a firm that lacks specialist international arbitration or public international law expertise.
The bulk of its caseload is international commercial arbitration, rather than investment (although it has been instructed on several ad hoc investment cases). As to its track record, the firm says that since the firm was founded a little over three years ago, where a decision has been issued, it has yet to lose a case. Lately it’s been busy on energy and construction work – in its most recent award, the firm successfully defeated an ICC claim against its client, an international joint venture between three major players in the energy and project construction sectors. It is also well located for handling technology and pharma disputes – in addition to its Geneva headquarters, it has an office in Nyon, the heart of a fast-growing region for technology and biotech companies. Members of the firm also get instructed as counsel in some more unusual cases with politically sensitive aspects or intergovernmental issues (for example, of counsel Laurence Boisson de Chazournes was part of Argentina’s counsel team in the ICJ case between Argentina and Uruguay over pulp mills on the river Uruguay).
The firm has a special focus in alternative dispute resolution within arbitration. Several of the cases in which it participated were resolved by agreement before any hearing being held.
Two members of the firm – Dominique Brown-Berset and Joachim Knoll – serve as arbitrators. Between them they sat on eight different cases last year, generally as chairperson or sole arbitrator. Dominique Brown-Berset is a well-known figure on the arbitration conference scene, while Gérald Page has lately spoken on data protection issues – last year, Brown-Berset was invited to speak in Lagos, Hong Kong, Singapore, New York, Paris and London, while Page spoke in Bangalore.
Meanwhile, Joachim Knoll continues to serve as co-chair of the Swiss Arbitration Association’s young practitioners’ group.