GAR 100 - 14th Edition



Professional notice

Won a US$2 billion ICC award for Turkmenistan’s national gas company

People in Who’s Who Legal2
People in Future Leaders3
Pending cases as counsel30
Value of pending counsel workUS$20.2 billion
Treaty cases as counsel1
Third-party funded cases0
Current arbitrator appointments21 (13 as chair or sole)
Lawyers sitting as arbitrator5

Though the firm dates back a century, Pestalozzi’s arbitration practice was established around 25 years ago, flourishing under the care of respected arbitrator Pierre Karrer.

He left the firm some years ago to open his own boutique, but the team has continued to boast one of the largest arbitration practices in Switzerland, with as many as 30 lawyers in the practice. It has offices in Zurich and Geneva.

The practice co-heads are Michael Kramer in Zurich and Thomas Legler in Geneva. Kramer is a former member of the Arbitration Court of the Swiss Chambers’ Arbitration Institute, while Legler is a member of the ICC Swiss national committee and features on the World Trade Organization’s arbitrator list.

Other names to know include Zurich arbitration group leader Laurent Killias, a co-founder of the Swiss Arbitration Academy and a member of the ICC Commission on Arbitration; and partner Christophe Emonet, who heads the Geneva litigation and arbitration group.

Who uses it?

The firm has a long-standing relationship with Glencore, which often uses it for disputes work. Other clients include Johnson & Johnson, insurer Swiss Life, retail group Coop Cooperative, German engineering group Bosch, France’s Bouygues Construction as well as various Swiss and international financial institutions.

It has also paired with White & Case to defend Thailand-based latex glove producer Siam Sempermed in a Swiss arbitration brought by one of its shareholders, Austria’s Semperit.

Another client is the Indian government.

Track record

The firm has acted for the claimant in one of the largest cases before the Swiss Chambers Arbitration Institute, worth more than US$1.5 billion. As part of that dispute, it won a rare set-aside decision from the Swiss Federal Supreme Court.

It has obtained annulments in another case, which marked the first time the Swiss court has set aside two awards in the same dispute. One award was annulled in 2014 and the other in 2016, after the court found the arbitrators had ignored its guidance and merely affirmed their earlier findings.

In another Swiss court action, it helped a unit of Bosch successfully defend an ICC award in a dispute with Italian engineering firm Piacentini over liability for a ship-lift accident at the port of Livorno.

Pestalozzi represented the Indian government in a challenge before the Swiss Federal Tribunal to an investment treaty award in favour of Deutsche Telekom. The high-profile case saw the court conduct a rare public deliberation before upholding the award by a three-to-two majority in 2018.

Recent events

Working with Curtis Mallet-Prevost Colt & Mosle, the firm recently represented Turkmenistan’s national gas company Türkmengaz in a multibillion-dollar ICC arbitration against the National Iranian Gas Company over an alleged debt for gas deliveries. In 2020, a tribunal awarded Pestalozzi’s client around US$2 billion. The Swiss Federal Supreme Court upheld the award.

The firm also teamed up with Clifford Chance to represent Bouygues in a dispute worth more than 200 million Swiss francs with Swiss energy company Alpiq before the Swiss Chambers. The client sought a purchase price adjustment following its €750 million acquisition of Alpiq’s engineering services business in 2018. In 2020, Alpiq agreed to refund €49.4 million to Bouygues to settle the dispute.

Together with Herbert Smith Freehills, the firm defeated a US$120 million ICC claim against their client, German engineering company KHS. The arbitration against Turkish beverage producer Doğanay Gida related to alleged manufacturing defects in production lines for glass-coated bottles.

The firm made two promotions in January 2021: Christine Moehler was made counsel, while Lukas Rusch, who serves as vice president of the International Association of Young Lawyers, was promoted to the partnership.  

Client comment

Gerrit Dekker of Aspetix Health Services in the Netherlands says he has had one of his best experiences with legal advice in litigation with Pestalozzi. Thomas Legler is commended for being hands-on, practical and efficient.

Having retained the firm in a breach of contract dispute against a Swiss corporation, the client says Legler provided “clear” and “well-motivated” advice on litigation strategy.

Dow Chemical’s lead counsel Francisco Castillo credits the firm with “high efficiency, a great professional background and very good personal interaction”. Thomas Rohner and Christoph Lang both make a “magnificent personal and professional impression”.

An energy-sector client found the firm able to deliver high-quality results in “often-challenging timescales.” Florian Mohs was “always available to guide our company through the process, and address commercial and legal questions in a professional and incisive manner.” Andreas Lienhard’s “attention to detail, and ability to tackle very technical engineering concepts, are second to none.”

About Pestalozzi Attorneys at Law Ltd.

Pestalozzi is a multicultural Swiss business law firm focusing on high-end work for domestic and international clients since 1911. Pestalozzi lawyers are strong and empathic personalities, known for their truly independent approach to advising and representing their clients. The firm guides and supports its clients in their strategic business decisions, anticipates their future challenges and helps them solve their critical issues. Being fully integrated, Pestalozzi encounters no internal limits in shaping the most competent and efficient teams for the clients’ needs. With over 100 professionals in Zurich and Geneva, the firm is at home in Switzerland’s two main commercial hubs – and has developed a wealth of experience in its key industries of Banking, Life Sciences, Commodity Trading and Insurance. While being locally embedded, Pestalozzi has also developed sought-after expertise in dealing with multi-jurisdictional transactions and disputes.

Pestalozzi has a long-standing reputation for excellence in advising and representing clients in complex national and international commercial disputes before state courts and arbitral tribunals. In addition to acting in commercial disputes, the Litigation & Arbitration practice group is well known for its expertise in insolvency matters, asset tracing, and international judicial assistance in civil and criminal matters as well as matters involving white-collar crimes.

Members of the group also frequently serve as arbitrators and mediators in ad hoc and institutional arbitrations. Further, they regularly lecture on dispute resolution issues before practitioners and academics and publish in their areas of expertise.


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