NEW IN 2016: A new entrant into the Swiss market already has a presence in Moscow and Iraqi Kurdistan
Founded towards the end of 2014, the Geneva-based Gentium Law Group is the creation of former Holman Fenwick Willan partner Matthew Parish. He says he dreamed up the name in a Montreal bar, deriving it from the Jus Gentium of Roman law – an early version of international law which inspired many modern civil law systems today.
English qualified-Parish, based out of Geneva and London, is probably the most widely recognised name at the firm. Formerly at ICSID, he’s also worked at the Office of the High Representative of Bosnia and Herzegovina, been named as one of Switzerland’s 300 most influential individuals, and is on the campaign team for one of the candidates to succeed Ban Ki-Moon as UN secretary-general.
Parish is joined by the five HFW associates he brought with him from his old firm, who as counsel straddle the boutique’s multiple locales in Geneva, Moscow, Fribourg and London. Turkish partner Mehtap Tari works out of Ankara, Istanbul and the firm’s office in Erbil, capital of Iraqi Kurdistan. Parish also frequently works from the Moscow desk.
The firm has a wide array of languages for its size – as well as Parish’s English, Russian, German, French and Serbian, other members speak Turkish, Italian, Kazakh, Ukrainian and Uzbek.
It also has strategic partnerships with English commercial barristers’ set Malins Chambers, and Turkish firm Sariibrahimoglu Law Office.
The main focus is on commodities arbitration and commercial cases, with financial disputes, shipping, construction, energy, infrastructure and foreign investment included in the mix. As well as both French and German-language work in the Swiss market, the firm also undertakes a substantial quantity of English commercial work.
In its first year the firm has already made eight more hires, including consultant barrister Dirk van Heck, who is admitted in England & Wales and the British Virgin Islands.
Recent cases have included both commercial and investment treaty work. They include an ICC arbitration against a state, where it is representing a Kazakh client in a dispute over misappropriation of US$250 million worth of assets. It was also involved in the successful settlement of a US$450 million UNCITRAL case for a Turkish client.
A new pickup is Qatari client Ali Alyafei’s ICSID claim against Jordan over its failure to sell him a stake in a local bank. The case is thought to be the first to ever be filed under the Unified Agreement for the Investment of Arab Capital in the Arab Countries. A related case at the LCIA, which Parish brought over from Holman Fenwick Willan, ended in an award in favour of the Jordanian side in August.