The German firm brought in a win for one ICSID client against Ukraine and got a second instruction from Swedish nuclear group Vattenfall
- People in Who’s Who:
- Pending cases as counsel:
- Value of pending counsel work:
- US$6 billion
- Treaty cases:
- 2 (at advisory stage)
- Current arbitrator appointments:
- 10 (3 as sole or chair)
- No. of lawyers sitting as arbitrator:
One of the founding fathers of the German Institution of Arbitration, Martin Luther, established this firm in Hamburg in 1950. However, its arbitration practice only took off half a century later. Originally a boutique corporate firm (Martin Luther was one of the most respected corporate lawyers in post-war Germany), it was not until a merger with Arthur Andersen’s local legal division that it began to receive international arbitration work.
After the implosion of Arthur Andersen and some years with Ernst & Young, the firm became independent again but retained an international focus. Its reputation developed in investment arbitration after it became one of the first firms in the country to be instructed on a treaty claim (Inmaris v Ukraine).
It was to Luther that Swedish energy company Vattenfall and its German subsidiaries would later turn to bring the first ever ICSID case against Germany – a €1.6 billion claim under the Energy Charter Treaty that eventually settled.
On the commercial front, the firm has recently helped Turkish clients win a series of ICC arbitrations.
Hamburg-based Ulrich Theune established the arbitration practice, which is now co-chaired by Richard Happ in Hamburg and Réne-Alexander Hirth in Stuttgart. Happ was lead counsel on the Vattenfall case; Hirth specialises in Asian arbitrations, having previously headed the Singapore office of another German law firm for many years. Jutta Wittler, in Cologne, specialises in international construction arbitration. All serve as arbitrators – mostly in commercial cases – apart from Happ, who also sits on investment panels.
As well as 11 German offices, the firm is also present in Brussels, Budapest, London, Luxemburg, Shanghai and Singapore.
The arbitration team, formerly part of the dispute resolution practice, are now a standalone practice group.
Corporate and post-M&A disputes specialist Christoph von Burgsdorff has been promoted to partner in the Hamburg office, which also hired partner Ulf Bertheau, a shipping arbitration expert.
The firm also hired two associates, Georg Scherpf and Vilma Remmert-Fontes.
In March 2012, an ICSID tribunal ruled in favour of Luther’s client Inmaris, a Hamburg-based sailing-tours group, in a claim against Ukraine over an impounded vessel. The panel awarded the client
€3 million (somewhat less than the €15 million it initially sought). The tribunal had already upheld its jurisdiction in a 2010 decision.
Vattenfall also turned to the firm again for a second ICSID claim against Germany, seeking compensation for the closure of the country’s nuclear power stations following the Fukushima crisis in Japan last year.
Luther is a leading full-service German commercial law firm offering comprehensive legal and tax services with more than 350 lawyers and tax advisors at offices in 11 German economic centers. With international offices in Brussels, Luxembourg, Shanghai and Singapore, we are also represented at important investment locations and financial centers in Europe and Asia. Luther works closely with an established network of respected law firms in the prevailing jurisdictions worldwide.
Luther’s arbitration practice group involves 5 partners and 7 associates, all of whom devote substantial part of their work on national and international arbitration. Luther has represented clients in proceedings under all major arbitration rules, be it DIS, ICC, LCIA, SCC, Swiss Rules, UNCITRAL ad-hoc, ICSID, CIETAC or SIAC. Current arbitration matters include a string of ICC disputes between Belgian, German, Singaporean and Turkish companies, an ICSID investment treaty claim against Ukraine and several CIETAC respectively VIAC arbitrations relating to German – Chinese joint venture disputes. We hold a wealth of expertise in arbitration with Asian parties and arbitrations involving states and state parties. Moreover, Luther represents clients in arbitration-related litigation before national courts, be it in defense or attack of proceedings and awards. Frequently, our lawyers are also appointed as arbitrators.
Luther’s arbitration practice group is headed by