GAR 100 - 15th Edition

Bär & Karrer

Bär & Karrer

Professional notice

Saw off an SCC claim against a subsidiary of a US chemicals manufacturer, and a changing of the guard is under way in the team’s leadership

People in Who’s Who Legal5
People in Future Leaders2
Pending cases as counsel32
Value of pending counsel workUS$9.8 billion
Treaty cases as counsel0
Third-party funded cases0
Current arbitrator appointments50 (25 as chair or sole)
Lawyers sitting as arbitrator7

Founded in 1969, Swiss firm Bär & Karrer began to develop an international arbitration practice in the early 1980s. A key member of the group was Marc Blessing, a highly regarded arbitrator and honorary president of the Swiss Arbitration Association. Blessing retired as partner in 2007 but carried on as of counsel at the firm until 2019.

Originating in Zurich, the firm opened offices in Lugano and Zug in the early 1990s and in Geneva in 2000. In arbitration terms, it has traditionally been seen as more of a force in the German-speaking part of Switzerland, with the majority of the team based in Zurich.

As of 2017, the practice is co-led from the Geneva office by Pierre-Yves Gunter, who joined after nearly two decades with GAR 100 firm Python. He brought with him a team that includes partner Alexandra C Johnson. Gunter is a director of the recently rebranded Swiss Arbitration Centre (formerly the Swiss Chambers’ Arbitration Institution (SCAI)), and Johnson is a vice president of its arbitration court.

In Zurich, Nadja Jaisli took over as co-head of the practice in 2022. She replaced Daniel Hochstrasser, who is set to leave the partnership in 2023 after nearly three decades to launch a solo practice. The team in Zurich also includes partners Michele Bernasconi and Jan Kleiner, who often sit as arbitrator in cases at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

There is a small team in Italian-speaking Lugano, including Cesare Jermini, another member of the Swiss Arbitration Centre’s arbitration court.

In addition to its own client base, the firm is popular with international law firms looking for local co-counsel in a Swiss-seated arbitration.

Who uses it?

Clients of note include Sandoz (the generics division of pharmaceutical group Novartis) and the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation. It has also acted for telecoms operator TeliaSonera; Italian clients such as Ansaldo, Generali and pharma company Alfasigma; and, in Germany, Deutsche Telekom and power utility Energie Baden-Württemberg.

On the government side, it has recently advised the Israeli state-owned Israel Electric Corporation, the National Iranian Gas Company and the Kingdom of Spain.

Clients in the sports world include European football’s governing body, UEFA, and the Olympic Council of Asia.

Track record

The firm has had some big wins. It helped French nuclear company Areva win more than US$920 million in a dispute with Siemens concerning a collapsed joint venture.

For TeliaSonera it secured an award of US$932 million against Turkey’s Çukurova Holdings in an ICC dispute over a share purchase agreement, also defeating a mirror claim by Çukurova. The award has been the subject of enforcement proceedings in the US, the UK, the Netherlands and the British Virgin Islands.

In another success, the firm helped German public utility Energie Baden-Württemberg prevail in an ad hoc arbitration worth US$1 billion that had been brought by a German inventor in a dispute over waste gasification technology. The claim against the client was dismissed in its entirety, with EnBW winning costs.

The firm defended Deutsche Telekom in high-profile proceedings before the Swiss Federal Supreme Court, where India had sought to set aside an investment treaty award. After a rare public deliberation, the court ruled by majority that the treaty extended to indirect investments such as the one Deutsche Telekom had made in India via a Singaporean subsidiary.

Recent events

Bär & Karrer reports helping a Turkish subsidiary of a US chemicals manufacturer see off a US$21 million SCC claim over a joint venture. The firm is now representing the subsidiary in Swiss set-aside proceedings.

The firm has also been acting for French sports marketing agency Lagardère in a Geneva-seated ICC dispute with the Confederation of African Football over the termination of a billion-dollar contract relating to the media and marketing rights for Africa’s biggest football competitions.

The firm successfully defended a €1.5 billion ICC award that it won for the National Iranian Gas Company (NIGC) against Turkmenistan’s national gas company in the Swiss Supreme Court.

Client comment

Chinese technology and entertainment company Tencent Holdings says the firm represented it in a broadcasting dispute “very efficiently” using a small team led by partner Hachem Pascal in Zurich.

Another company says that a team led by Jaisli provided “very commercial-orientated, very focused and to-the-point advice and support” in several Swiss arbitrations.

Bär & Karrer represents clients in commercial arbitrations and related court and enforcement proceedings. We act in ad hoc and institutional arbitrations governed by Swiss or foreign law. We are experienced in proceedings administered by major arbitral institutions, including the ICC, the Swiss Chambers of Commerce, WIPO, LCIA, the Vienna Center, the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce, AAA/IDCR, and CAS.

Vast Expertise

Members of our arbitration team regularly serve as party-appointed arbitrators, sole arbitrators, and chairpersons of arbitral tribunals, as well as mediators. Partners of the firm are also active members of executive bodies of arbitral institutions (such as the Swiss Chambers). In addition they lecture on arbitration in LL.M. programs and specialized programs.

The quality, size, and experience of our international arbitration team allow us to handle large and complex cases. We regularly act in cases involving international acquisitions, joint ventures, privatizations, R&D, technology transfers, financing, sales of goods, commodity trading, sports arbitration, oil and gas concessions, and access to networks.

  • Party representation as counsel in arbitration proceedings
  • Chairman, co-arbitrator or sole arbitrator
  • Counsel in the enforcement or challenging of arbitral awards and in preliminary measures supporting arbitration proceedings
  • Mediator or counsel in mediation

Recognized Team

Bär & Karrer was repeatedly awarded Switzerland Law Firm of the Year by the most important international legal ranking agencies in recent years.

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