The new Swiss perspective on international arbitration

The new Swiss perspective on international arbitration

Gentium Law’s Matthew Parish discusses a quiet revolution.

Switzerland is distinctive as a centre of international arbitration. It packs a punch well above its size. Although statistics about arbitration are by their nature confidential, anecdotal evidence indicates the diminutive country of a mere 7.5 million people is host to several hundreds of arbitrations per year. This is a remarkable figure.

The London Court of International Arbitration has perhaps only 150 cases per annum, while the International Chamber of Commerce hosts roughly double that number. In petite Geneva – a mere 185,000 people – arbitration lawyers may be the largest group of legal specialists in the city. Continue reading “The new Swiss perspective on international arbitration”

Aftershocks – hard decisions for Swiss lawyers amid a turbulent market

Aftershocks – hard decisions for Swiss lawyers amid a turbulent market

When even that most venerable of Swiss industries, watch-making, comes under threat, you know the country has a problem. But this proved to be the case in the early weeks of 2015: global brand Swatch saw its share price slump 15% after the Swiss National Bank (SNB) announced on 15 January that it would abandon the cap on the Swiss franc against the euro that it first introduced in September 2011. Keeping the franc at CHF1.20 to the euro had became increasingly expensive for the SNB, as it sold its own currency and bought up euros, sterling, US and Canadian dollars and yen, usually in the form of government bonds.

Many were shocked by the move, which has left investors worrying that with the CHF now floating against the euro, Swiss companies will struggle to maintain export levels. Swatch chief executive Nick Hayek called the decision ‘a tsunami’ for Switzerland’s economy. Mark Haefele, chief investment officer of UBS, has estimated that the policy will cost Swiss exporters close to CHF5bn (£3.3bn), equivalent to 0.7% of Swiss economic output.

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Like clockwork

Like clockwork

 MARKET VIEW – ARBITRATION 

Why are so few awards rendered by the Swiss Chambers’ Arbitration Institution subject to challenge proceedings in the country’s courts? Rainer Füeg, the institution’s Executive Director, speaks to Lenz & Staehelin partner Martin Burkhardt

Martin Burkhardt, Lenz & Staehelin: With a growing number of arbitral institutions, why should a party use your institution?

Rainer Füeg, Swiss Chambers’ Arbitration Institution: Arbitration proceedings under the Swiss rules of international arbitration are efficient, reliable and cost-effective. They are administered in four languages: English, German, French and Italian. In arbitration proceedings where the amount in dispute does not exceed CHF1m, expedited procedures will apply; in such cases, the award shall be made within six months from the date on which the secretariat of the Institution submitted the file to the arbitral tribunal. More generally, the members of the institution and its arbitral tribunal are experienced international arbitration practitioners.

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Neutral territory

Neutral territory

 MARKET VIEW – LITIGATION 

Lalive’s Marc Henzelin and Sandrine Giroud examine the key facts on the enforcement of foreign judgments in Switzerland

Ranked among the top five financial centres in the world and top of the Global Innovation Index 2014, with postcard landscapes and a tradition of discretion and stability, Switzerland remains a top destination for companies and wealthy individuals alike to bring their business and wealth. It is therefore unsurprising that enforcement of foreign judgments against assets held in Switzerland is an issue that comes up regularly in the day-to-day practice of international litigators.

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A wider horizon – Switzerland edges into the global economy

A wider horizon – Switzerland edges into the global economy

While historically relatively untouched by the globalisation of legal services, international firms have continued their recent surge into Switzerland, with Geneva – home to a third of the world’s private wealth – emerging as the most popular hotspot. As recently as January, CMS von Erlach Henrici – the local Swiss member of the global CMS network – merged with Geneva practice ZPG Avocats, adding six partners, including former ZPG managing partner Charles Poncet to the firm, now known as CMS von Erlach Poncet.

In September last year, Speechly Bircham also opened in Geneva – an office led by Michael Wells-Greco and of counsel Francis Rojas, who joined from the Luxembourg-based Maitland. This was the LB100 firm’s second office launch in the country in recent years, having first launched in Zürich in 2011. Continue reading “A wider horizon – Switzerland edges into the global economy”

Switzerland – Being Prepared

Switzerland – Being Prepared

In most markets, it wouldn’t qualify as news but in the conservative Swiss legal community, the creation last April of Meyerlustenberger Lachenal via a merger between Zürich’s meyerlustenberger and Geneva’s Lachenal & Le Fort is still making waves. Currently listed as one of the largest law firms in Switzerland, it is present in Zug, Lausanne and Brussels, in addition to Zürich and Geneva.

The roots of Lachenal & Le Fort date back to 1882, while meyerlustenberger was established in 1975. According to Christophe Rapin – a Lausanne-based partner at the combined firm – an important driver behind the merger, which created a 30-partner practice, was to ensure national coverage of the Swiss market, particularly for the firm’s international clientele.

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Switzerland – Climb every mountain

Switzerland – Climb every mountain

UK law firm Speechly Bircham opened a Zürich office in June 2011, marking the firm’s first venture overseas. Private client partner Mark Summers was relocated to Switzerland to head the new operation alongside two associates, with fellow partner William Hancock joining him at the start of 2012.

Speechly’s Zürich offering is further bolstered by international private client head Charles Gothard, who spends one week each month in the city, and financial services partners Jonathan Bayliss and Kate Troup, who are both in Zürich for two or three days each month. Continue reading “Switzerland – Climb every mountain”

Switzerland – Fighting fit

Switzerland – Fighting fit

Switzerland’s dispute resolution market is in rude health. LB talks to the key players about recent headline cases and what the implementation of new arbitration rules in 2012 will mean

The volume of Swiss M&A and capital markets may have flattened out in Switzerland but the global downturn has produced a raft of investor claims against banks and investor management disputes. ‘In tough economic times, people are much more prepared to take their case to court and less willing to settle,’ says Patrick Sommer, partner at CMS von Erlach Henrici (CMS). Consequently, Switzerland has become a major battlefield for asset recovery and enforcement of foreign judgments. Continue reading “Switzerland – Fighting fit”

Switzerland – Splendid isolation

Switzerland – Splendid isolation

As an exporting country, Switzerland is not immune to the general crisis and slow down of growth in the rest of Europe. Add to this a tough financing environment, and it is no surprise that the country’s transactional lawyers are reporting a dwindling deal flow.

A key issue for international M&A deals in Switzerland is the strong Swiss franc. In 2011, because prices kept increasing for dollar or euro-based buyers, some inbound acquisitions of Swiss businesses by foreign acquirers failed after following due diligence. However, it’s not just a robust currency that is affecting Switzerland’s M&A transactions. ‘Because the Swiss economy has resisted the global meltdown fairly well in comparative terms,’ says André Gruber, one of the Geneva-based founding partners at Swiss legal practice DGE, ‘Swiss assets are also comparatively expensive.’ Continue reading “Switzerland – Splendid isolation”

Switzerland – On The Rise

Switzerland – On The Rise

While several leading Swiss law firms contemplate their new lives as corporations, LB finds out what a series of high-profile partner exits means for Switzerland’s famously conservative legal market

This year, Zürich-based law firm Pestalozzi celebrates its 100th birthday. Just ten years ago, it joined forces with Geneva practice Lachenal Brechbuhl Cottier & Roguet to become Pestalozzi Lachenal Patry. But in late 2010, the two factions parted company, shutting down the Brussels office along the way.

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