GAR 100 - 16th Edition



Professional notice

Acting in a mining claim against Greenland and Denmark

People in Who’s Who Legal1
People in Future Leaders1
Pending cases as counsel13
Value of pending counsel workUS$4 billion
Treaty cases as counsel1
Third-party funded cases1
Current arbitrator appointments2 (1 as chair or sole)
Lawyers sitting as arbitrator2

The Copenhagen-based firm Plesner formally created its international arbitration practice in 2005, but its roots as a leading Danish law firm trace back to 1918. Following a series of 1980s mergers, it has existed in its current form since 2000 and has created a name for itself due to its role in several multimillion-dollar construction arbitrations arising from major Danish projects, such as the Great Belt Bridge and Copenhagen Metro.

The late Jørgen Grønborg took the lead on those early cases alongside current partners Peter Fogh and Frants Dalgaard-Knudsen. The pair now work under head of dispute resolution Peter Schradieck, who joined the firm in 1999 and has worked with partner Jimmy Skjold Hansen to increase its profile overseas.

Its global outlook has led to instructions from non-Danish parties in the transport, energy, food and pharmaceutical sectors. Schradieck and his fellow partners, who are all based in Copenhagen, also take appointments as arbitrator.

Who uses it?

The firm has acted for construction and engineering companies such as Italy’s Astaldi and Sweden’s NCC. Others include Danish toy company Lego, Morgan Stanley, Carnegie, ECCO, Cargill, Danske Bank and British American Tobacco.

Track record

Plesner has acted as lead counsel to Skaugen Group, a global shipping company based in Norway, in disputes at the ICC and the Danish Institute of Arbitration against a German energy group. In 2017, the firm scored a win in one of the cases, all of which hinge on allegedly defective marine engines.

Also in 2017, the firm helped the oil and gas division of INEOS, formerly known as DONG Energy, to settle an ad hoc arbitration against a consortium of French and South Korean contractors over the building of a North Sea oil platform.

The firm successfully defended pharmaceutical company Novozymes against a US$41 million claim by a former joint venture partner over the development of a drug – also winning costs for its client.

In 2021, the firm settled a US$500 million ICC dispute in London for a Danish bioscience company against a foreign competitor over the rights to products developed under a terminated collaboration.

Recent events

Working with lead counsel Clifford Chance, Plesner is representing Greenland Minerals in a claim against Greenland and Denmark over a uranium mining ban that has brought the Perth-based company’s US$3 billion rare-earth project, Kvanefjeld, to a halt. The case is being funded by a Burford Capital subsidiary.

Plesner is acting for an Italian consortium in an US$800 million dispute over the expansion of the Copenhagen metro system. The firm also advised the consortium in a previous arbitration concerning the project.

A technology company is using the firm in a US$30 million dispute with an election management services provider concerning the termination of an IT project.

The firm also reports successfully representing a German hotel group in a US$13 million dispute with a Danish company in relation to a shareholders’ agreement.

Client comment

Peter Schøtt Knudsen of ECCO says he worked with Plesner on an international transfer pricing and tax case. He applauded the firm for knowing the details on tax litigation, especially attorneys Lasse Esbjerg Christensen and Jef Nymand Hounsgaard, who were “intelligent and convincing” in court. Schøtt Knudsen adds that lawyer Skjold Hansen was “very to the point” and had a “deep insight” into international arbitration issues.

Another client says the firm’s work was “really impressive and consistent”. Skjold Hansen is singled out as “easy to work with, always available and very responsive”.

Plesner is the leading arbitration firm in Denmark. Plesner's roots date back to 1918 and the firm's portfolio of cases is substantial in terms of monetary value, complexity and variety within various legal fields such as M&A, IT & tech, telecoms, construction and infrastructure, energy, mining and commercial contracts. In addition, Plesner is the only Danish firm with actual experience in international investment arbitration.

Plesner's arbitration group is headed by Jimmy Skjold Hansen. He forms a duo with fellow partner Peter Schradieck, both having numerous international arbitrations under their belts. Together with the other partners and senior associates with experience from abroad (such as Mrinalini Singh, previously from Freshfields), Plesner holds the largest and most experienced arbitration group in Denmark, and one which is internationally recognized.

Plesner's lawyers are not only experienced and legally savvy; they also provide honest advice to their clients. Plesner operates at the highest levels of quality and integrity in the business, and the firm encourages innovative ideas at all levels of seniority. However, what Plesner really excels in is co-operation, whether with clients, co-counsel or other stakeholders. The focus is always on what is best for the client and how to make that happen as smoothly as possible. Many firms claim to have such an approach, but Plesner does it in practice. Indeed, the arbitration group always seeks to be as easy to work with as possible for their clients and stakeholders. Dealing with Plesner as opposing party or counsel, however, may be a different story.

The arbitration group currently represents an Australian mining company in a billion-dollar investment arbitration against the Governments of Greenland and Denmark concerning governmental interference with a rare earth mining project in Greenland. The case attracts substantial political interest, and GAR has also reported on the case previously. Plesner also represents an Italian client in a billion-dollar construction arbitration before the Danish Building and Construction Arbitration Board concerning the expansion of the Copenhagen Metro system. These two arbitrations are the biggest Danish cases ever in terms of monetary value. Plesner has numerous other active mandates in both international and domestic arbitrations.

Historically, Plesner has also been at the forefront of dispute resolution in Denmark and was the first Danish law firm to establish arbitration as an area of specialization in 2005. The firm was also the first to be accepted to the GAR 100 list. Historically, Plesner has been involved in many of the most significant cases relating to Denmark. Most prominently, these proceedings include several multi-million dollar international arbitrations arising out of major Danish construction projects such as the historic construction of the 17 km long Great Belt Bridge in the 1990s.

Over the years, Plesner has contributed significantly to the development of Danish law, to a number of areas of European law and to the practice of arbitration in Denmark. As an example, Jimmy Skjold Hansen is currently a board member of the Danish Arbitration Association and has participated in the IBA Working Group preparing the 2020 IBA Rules on the Taking of Evidence in International Arbitration.

With one of Plesner's hallmarks being "Just Care", the arbitration group, i.a., hosts an annual pre-moot event for the Vis Moot competition. This event is praised every year by those who attend for Plesner's level of service, quality and care for detail as well as a personal touch, all of which helps cultivating tomorrow's arbitration practitioners.

Unlock unlimited access to all Global Arbitration Review content