GAR 100 - 16th Edition

Bär & Karrer

Bär & Karrer

Professional notice

The Swiss practice is under new leadership after some senior figures left

People in Who’s Who Legal3
People in Future Leaders2
Pending cases as counsel20
Value of pending counsel workUS$12 billion
Treaty cases as counsel0
Third-party funded cases1
Current arbitrator appointments35 (22 as chair or sole)
Lawyers sitting as arbitrator6

Founded in 1969, 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 who 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.

Daniel Hochstrasser in Zurich steered the arbitration practice from 2006 until 2022, when he stepped down to launch a solo arbitrator practice. Pierre-Yves Gunter joined with a team in Geneva in 2017 and served as co-head of the practice until he too left in early 2023 to set up his own shop.

Partner Nadja Jaisli Kull took over as practice co-head from Hochstrasser, while recently promoted partner Pascal Hachem has filled Gunter’s shoes as the other co-head. Both Jaisli Kull and Hachem are based in Zurich.

The team in Zurich also includes partners Michele Bernasconi, who often sits as arbitrator in cases at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

The Geneva office remains home to Aurélie Conrad Hari, who co-heads the litigation practice, and Saverio Lembo, who does some arbitration alongside his white-collar crime practice.

There is a small team in Italian-speaking Lugano, including Cesare Jermini, a 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. It is regularly sought out as counsel in Swiss set-aside proceedings.

Who uses it?

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

It has also advised the Israeli state-owned Israel Electric, the National Iranian Gas Company (NIGC) 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.

The firm helped German public utility EnBW Energie Baden-Württemberg prevail in an ad hoc arbitration worth US$1 billion brought by a German inventor in a dispute over waste gasification technology.

For Deutsche Telekom, the firm successfully defended an investment treaty award against India before the Swiss Federal Supreme Court, which held a rare public deliberation before ruling for the client.

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. It then successfully defended the award in set-aside proceedings, defeating allegations the tribunal chair had a conflict of interests.

It has 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 represented NIGC In an unsuccessful challenge to a €1.5 billion ICC award in favour of Turkmenistan’s national gas company. The Swiss Federal Supreme Court rejected arguments that US sanctions made payment impossible.

It also helped London private equity group Actis see off a challenge to an LCIA award against UK businessman Rakesh Malhotra, with the Swiss courts rejecting arguments that the arbitrators should have postponed a hearing because of the covid-19 pandemic.

Zurich-based Cinzia Catelli was appointed to the arbitration court of the Swiss Arbitration Centre.

Alexandra Johnson, who joined the firm with Gunter in 2017, left the partnership in 2022 to join GAR 100 firm Pestalozzi in Geneva.

Client comment

Chinese technology and entertainment company Tencent says the firm represented it in a broadcasting dispute “very efficiently” using a small team led by Hachem. Another company says that a team led by Jaisli Kull provided “very commercial-orientated, very focused and to-the-point advice and support” in several Swiss arbitrations.

Bär & Karrer is a leading Swiss law firm with more than 170 lawyers in Zurich, Geneva, Lugano, Zug and Basel.

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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