The firm at the top of the Swedish arbitration market
|People in Who’s Who Legal:||3|
|Pending cases as counsel:||60|
|Value of pending counsel work:||US$42 billion|
|Current arbitrator appointments:||25 (of which 14 are as sole or chair)|
|Lawyers sitting as arbitrator:||5|
Sweden has blessed and encouraged private dispute resolution for years (since its first civil code). A twist of fate in the 1970s made Stockholm a hub for international arbitration, after the United States and USSR decided the SCC would be a good place to settle trade disputes. In the 1980s, China followed suit. Even today, local companies prefer arbitration over litigation for local disputes.
Swedish law firms have arbitration in their DNA – and none more so than Mannheimer Swartling.
The firm’s members have been at the heart of local and foreign arbitral institutions for years: Mannheimer Swartling lawyers represented Sweden on the UNCITRAL working groups that developed the Model Law, and still represent the country’s interests before the commission now. The firm also acted for a number of US oil companies before the Iran–US Claims Tribunal.
The arbitration team is a dominant element within the firm as a whole. Last year it was appointed to an official panel of advisers for China in investment disputes – the only foreign civil law firm on the list. It has often shown itself to be the best-performing team from a civil law jurisdiction in the GAR 30.
Although long-time team leader Kaj Hobér (Sweden’s foremost arbitration academic and arbitrator) left the firm in 2014 to join a barristers’ chambers in London, there are still plenty of leading lights left. They include Jakob Ragnwaldh, a member of the SCC Arbitration Institute’s board; Nils Eliasson, a recently elected member of the HKIAC council; and Robin Oldenstam, a member of the GAR editorial board and head of the Swedish Arbitration Association, to name but three.
There are key people in Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö, Hong Kong and Frankfurt. Three divide their time between Sweden and Moscow.
Who uses it?
The firm’s a little shy about mentioning clients and, frankly, they’re a mixed bunch, from energy firms to Italian goods makers. A common theme is usually a Russian, Chinese or Nordic angle. Some clients it’s known to have advised include Vattenfall, Endesa, Stena RoRo, Edison, Norwegian chemicals company Yara and Lithuania’s energy ministry.
The firm helped RosInvestCo, a UK subsidiary of distressed debt fund Elliot Associates, win a landmark investment treaty claim against the Russian government over the expropriation of its shares in Yukos Oil Company. The damages won were quite small – US$3.5 million – but it was the first time Russia had been held liable for its treatment of Yukos (however, the award was subsequently set aside by the Swedish courts).
It was also the firm that Sweden’s state-owned power company Vattenfall turned to for the first-ever ICSID claim against Germany (as co-counsel with German firm Luther). The two firms have since been retained by Vattenfall for a new ICSID claim over Germany’s closure of nuclear power stations in the wake of the Fukushima crisis in Japan.
The firm can’t talk about much of its commercial work, but it is reputed to be fairly successful. In one public matter, the team helped Swedish mobile operator Tele2 defeat a US$728 million claim brought by a British Virgin Islands entity concerning an M&A transaction. The New York-seated ICDR arbitration ended in 2011 with the dismissal of all claims against Tele2 and a costs award of US$2 million in its favour. The award was later upheld at the seat.
In 2013, Mannheimer Swartling prevailed on some of its claims for a major South European energy company in an UNCITRAL arbitration under a production-sharing agreement, also winning costs (Volterra Fietta was on the other side). It was also instructed by a major European gas supplier for a couple of cases worth several hundred million euros.
As mentioned above, in late 2014 Hobér left the firm to become a member of London set 3 Verulam Buildings, after 21 years in the Mannheimer Swartling partnership.
Months before he left, he joined the counsel team for a group of Spanish minority shareholders in Yukos who won an SCC award in 2012, and helped successfully defend them against a declaratory judgment action brought by Russia in the Swedish courts.
In November, the firm was instructed by Ioan Micula, who, along with his brother Viorel, is bringing an ICSID claim against Romania over its failure to police the alcohol black market. The brothers won a US$250 million award against Romania using different counsel at the centre in 2012, and Mannheimer Swartling is now representing Ioan in annulment proceedings filed by the state.
Ragnwaldh was elected vice-chair of the executive board of the European Federation for Investment Law and Arbitration (EFILA), a think-tank that was established to represent the voice of users of investment arbitration at the EU level. Mannheimer Swartling is one of five firms that founded the group.
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
111 87 Stockholm
T: +46 8 595 060 00
F: +46 8 595 060 01