The firm picked up a GAR Award in 2012 for its special contribution to arbitration culture in Sweden
- People in Who’s Who:
- Pending cases as counsel:
- Value of pending counsel work:
- US$31 billion
- Treaty cases:
- Current arbitrator appointments:
- 19 (11 as sole or chair)
- No. of lawyers sitting as arbitrator:
Sweden has blessed and encouraged private dispute resolution as long as it has had a legal code. The Stockholm Chamber of Commerce has had an arbitral institution since 1917 and an arbitration act since 1929, and there is almost no such thing as commercial litigation in Sweden (aside from employment cases). As a result, Swedish lawyers grow up with arbitration as part of their professional DNA.
In the 1970s, the US and USSR adopted Sweden for the resolution of their trading disputes, turning it into one of the first centres for international arbitration. In the 1980s, China followed suit.
Little wonder, then, that one of the biggest local practices, Mannheimer Swartling, has emerged to such an extent on the international scene.
Formed by a merger in the early 1990s, members of the firm have long been at the forefront of the practice in Sweden. Mannheimer Swartling lawyers represented Swedish interests in the UNCITRAL working groups that developed the Model Law and related projects.
The firm also represented a series of US oil companies before the Iran-US Claims Tribunal.
Today, the practice area is a dominant group within the 400-lawyer firm, and the team is often the highest-ranked firm from a civil law jurisdiction in the GAR 30. The practice is led by the country’s foremost arbitration academic and arbitrator, Kaj Hobér.
Many of its other members are also active in the wider life of the arbitration community. Jakob Ragnwaldh is a member of the SCC Arbitration Institute’s board, while Nils Eliasson is now on the ICC national committee on arbitration in Hong Kong and has also helped to found a group for young practitioners in the region. Robin Oldenstam, who is a member of the GAR editorial board, is head of the Swedish Arbitration Association. All those partners also sit as arbitrators, as do Olle Flygt, Stefan Brocker and Alexander Foerster.
Besides three offices in Sweden, the practice group has senior members on the ground in Moscow, Hong Kong and Frankfurt.
Who uses it?
RosInvestCo, a distressed-debt fund that invested in Yukos shares, used the firm in a major SCC case against the Russian government. Vattenfall, Endesa, Stena RoRo, Edison and Norwegian chemicals company Yara are all also clients, along with various Russian businesses the firm can’t name.
The firm won RosInvestCo damages – but not very much. In a 2010 award, the arbitrators said the investors had known the shares faced dire prospects when they bought them in an intra-company deal at a knock-down price, so weren’t entitled to any extra compensation. Still, Mannheimer Swartling and their collaborators – Hughes Hubbard & Reed and V V Veeder QC – were the first lawyers to obtain a liability ruling against Russia in a Yukos case.
Partners Kaj Hobér and Kristoffer Löf successfully defended mobile carrier Tele2 in a US$728 million ICDR arbitration in New York related to an M&A transaction that took place in 2003 in Russia. The 2011 award rejected the claims against Tele2 and awarded costs and fees to the company.
The same partners led counsel to Yara in an SCC arbitration against Russia’s Acron over a fertiliser joint venture, which settled after hearings in 2011 achieving what Yara set out to do from the outset.
The firm has also helped obtain settlements worth €200 million – for Edison in a gas-pricing dispute with Promgas (working with Squire Sanders & Dempsey) and for Vattenfall in the first-ever ICSID claim against Germany (working with German firm Luther). It also managed to reverse a series of anti-enforcement rulings from Russian courts in a long-running matter for Stena RoRo.
At the 2012 GAR Awards in Stockholm, Mannheimer Swartling jointly received a trophy with the SCC Arbitration Institute and its former secretary general, Ulf Franke, for making a special contribution to international arbitration culture in Sweden.
The firm lost partner Johann von Pachelbel from its Frankfurt office when he departed for K&L Gates in January 2012.
However, it has been a good year for some of its other partners: Hobér launched a new one-year master’s programme in investment treaty arbitration at Uppsala University, where he was appointed professor of international investment and trade law in April; the course will accept its first batch of students in autumn 2013. He was also appointed to the independent arbitral appointments committee of the new Scottish Arbitration Centre, whose role will be to select arbitrators when parties fail to do so or if they specify that the centre should select them.
Following his promotion to Mannheimer Swartling’s partnership in January 2012, Löf was elected to the board of Young Arbitrators Stockholm in June. He has also been appointed to the advisory board of the newly launched Stockholm International Hearing Centre.
The firm was instructed to act for Vattenfall against Germany again, this time over the shutdown of the country’s nuclear power stations in response to the Fukushima crisis (the first case accused Germany of backtracking over plans to construct a coal-fired plant in Hamburg). It is currently acting for Edison in an UNCITRAL arbitration in Vienna over a production-sharing agreement for oil and gas exploration in Croatian territory on the North Adriatic Sea, and for China’s Xuzhou Excavator Manufacture in a HKIAC arbitration seated in Hong Kong against John Deere Construction and Forestry.
With over 400 lawyers working out of offices in Sweden, Germany, Russia, China, Brussels and New York, Mannheimer Swartling is the largest law firm in the Nordic region and widely regarded as the most international of the Scandinavian firms. Our firm is regularly instructed on the region’s most prominent and complex financial and corporate law matters and the firm’s position on the market across all practice areas is frequently confirmed by rankings in the league tables and awards institutes.
Dispute Resolution/International Arbitration Practice Group
Mannheimer Swartling is one of the leading law firms in international arbitration globally and one of only a handful of such firms with its roots in a civil law jurisdiction. With more than 70 lawyers on three continents committed exclusively to dispute resolution, the firm’s dispute resolution team delivers results to clients at arbitral venues all over the world.
We represent clients, regardless of nationality or applicable law, in any and all matters arising from commercial disputes, such as early dispute assessment, arbitration, litigation, mediation and other alternative dispute resolution. We have extensive experience from arbitrations under all leading rules and institutions such as the ICC, LCIA, ICDR, DIS, HKIAC, CIETAC, ICAC, UNCITRAL and ICSID, not to mention our unparalleled experience from arbitrations under the Arbitration Rules of the Arbitration Institute of the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce (SCC).
For more information about our Dispute Resolution/International Arbitration practice, please contact:
Hans Hammarbäck, Partner
Robin Oldenstam, Partner