Wolf Theiss’s IA group has recently expanded outside Vienna.
- People in Who’s Who:
- Pending cases as counsel:
- Value of pending counsel work:
- US$2 billion
- Treaty cases:
- Current arbitrator appointments:
- 17 (of which 5 are as sole or chair)
- No. of lawyers sitting as arbitrator:
Theiss was established in Vienna more than 50 years ago. The firm is now made up of some 300 lawyers, based in 12 countries.
Christoph Liebscher’s arrival at the firm in 1997 contributed greatly to the growth of the practice. A renowned name in the field, Liebscher acts as both counsel and arbitrator. Florian Haugeneder joined the team five years ago, followed more recently by the exceptionally learned Christoph Schreuer in 2009. Schreuer is a leading authority on the law of treaties; and joined as of counsel following his retirement as a full-time professor.
In 2010, Lucian Mihai joined the Bucharest team where he is building the firm’s Romanian arbitration practice. And in 2011, Tomáš Rychlý became the newest addition to the firm, in the Czech Republic.
Until fairly recently, the arbitration practice was focused in Vienna. Lately it has decentralised somewhat, developing capability in Bucharest, Prague, Sofia and elsewhere.
Who uses it?
The firm’s clients include Coca-Cola Export Corporation, Danish-Polish Telecommunication Group, Shell Hungary and the Strauss Group.
It advised Tirana International Airport when a local subcontractor brought a claim for reimbursement of tax liabilities. During ICC proceedings, Wolf Theiss convinced the arbitral tribunal to dismiss the claimant’s argument.
Erste Bank was another happy client. It avoided paying €18 million in damages thanks to Wolf Theiss’s successful representation. Meanwhile, Electrabel, Advent International and E.ON Hungária Group are just some of the other high-profile companies that have retained the firm for arbitration work.
When Danish-Polish Telecommunication Group (DPTG) needed to bring UNCITRAL arbitration proceedings against various opponents over a miscalculation in revenue, it called on Wolf Theiss. So far, DPTG has been awarded almost €400 million – and a second phase of proceedings is now underway.
Wolf Theiss also tasted success in a high-stakes case for the Coca-Cola Export Corporation, which faced allegations of collusion in a US$110 million arbitration proceeding against ROZ, a Cayman Islands-based company. The case related to a joint venture in Uzbekistan and was widely reported in the press – posing a serious threat to Coca-Cola’s reputation. The 2009 award saw all corruption charges against the company dismissed.
The growth of the firm’s arbitration team continued apace last year. The Sofia office expanded to include a team of 12 lawyers from the former DLA Piper Bulgarian outpost. Among the new hires were former DLA country managing partner Anna Rizova and senior associate Antonia Mavrova. The team already deals with several domestic arbitration cases and is now looking to attract international commercial and investment arbitration matters.
Tomáš Rychlý joined the Wolf Theiss Prague team in 2011, having worked for several Czech and international law firms. His previous experience includes representing a Czech state-controlled entity in a dispute with its former investment advisor.