The firm made a lateral hire in Geneva, while one of its partners was recognised in Silicon Valley as a leading arbitrator for tech disputes
|People in Who’s Who Legal||4|
|People in Future Leaders||2|
|Pending cases as counsel||30|
|Value of pending counsel work||US$26 billion|
|Treaty cases as counsel||1|
|Third-party funded cases||0|
|Current arbitrator appointments||22 (12 as chair or sole)|
|Lawyers sitting as arbitrator||8|
Founded in Zurich in 1911, Pestalozzi is the oldest of the Swiss full-service firms. Its arbitration practice was set up more than three decades ago and was steered by respected arbitrator Pierre Karrer before he left in 2004.
The firm now boasts one of the largest arbitration practices in Switzerland, with over 36 fee earners, including 11 partners.
Michael Kramer in Zurich leads the firm’s litigation and arbitration group, with Laurent Killias serving as head of arbitration in Zurich and Thomas Legler heading the arbitration team in Geneva.
All three sit as arbitrator and are heavily involved in the wider community. Kramer is a former member of the arbitration court of what is now the Swiss Arbitration Centre. Killias is a member of the ICC Court and a founder of the Swiss Arbitration Academy. Legler is on the ICC Swiss national committee and particularly well known for intellectual property disputes.
A recent addition to the team is Alexandra Johnson in Geneva. She joined in 2022 from Bär & Karrer, where she acted in some significant oil and gas and construction matters. She’s also a vice president of the Swiss Arbitration Centre’s arbitration court.
Tanja Planinic in Zurich is also a member of the ICC Court representing Montenegro and sits on the ICC commission on arbitration and ADR.
Other partners to know are Thomas Rohner, Florian Mohs, Tanja Planinic and Lukas Rusch in Zurich; and Beat Mumenthaler in Geneva.
Most of the team is in Zurich with the rest in Geneva.
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 and France’s Bouygues Construction, as well as various Swiss and international financial institutions.
Its government clients include India and Turkmenistan’s national gas company Türkmengaz.
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.
Pestalozzi was part of a co-counsel team that helped Türkmengaz to secure a €1.5 billion ICC award against the National Iranian Gas Company over payments for gas supplies. It then ensured the award was upheld in the Swiss courts, defeating arguments by the Iranian side that US sanctions made payment impossible.
In 2020, a German engineering company represented by Pestalozzi and Herbert Smith Freehills defeated a US$123 million ICC claim brought by a Turkish manufacturer over alleged defects in three production lines for glass-coated lemonade bottles.
The firm has acted for the claimant in a US$1.5 billion dispute under Swiss rules. As part of that dispute, it won a rare set-aside decision from the Swiss courts.
The firm helped India challenge an investment treaty award in favour of Deutsche Telekom. The high-profile case saw the Swiss Federal Supreme Court conduct a rare public deliberation before upholding the award by majority.
The firm acted for Bouygues Construction in a €300 million dispute with Swiss energy company Alpiq, before Alpiq announced it would pay nearly €50 million to settle the dispute.
Legler was featured by the Silicon Valley Arbitration & Mediation Center on a list of leading arbitrators who “get” technology and the unique demands of the tech business world.
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.