Christophe Rapin
Office:
65 rue du Rhône
Case Postale 3199
CH-1211 Geneva 3
City:
Geneva
State:
Geneva
Country:
Switzerland
Tel:
+41 22 737 10 00
Fax:
+41 22 737 10 01

Questions and Answers:

Who's Who Legal Thought Leaders - Switzerland

Christophe Rapin heads the firm’s competition, trade and regulatory group in Geneva and Brussels. Admitted to the Bar in Brussels and in Geneva, he advises and represents clients in antitrust matters and in competition law enforcement procedures. He has wide-ranging experience in international distribution, including franchising. Christophe Rapin is a member of Meyerlustenberger Lachenal’s IP team that consistently ranks in the top tier in Switzerland. He is particularly well aware of the sensitive issues at the crossroads of IP law and competition law.

HOW DOES YOUR EXPERTISE IN COMPETITION LAW COMPLEMENT YOUR FRANCHISE PRACTICE? 

I started my career approximately 20 years ago as a competition lawyer. This was the beginning of competition law in Switzerland, and I had to advise a lot of companies on distribution matters. More recently in Switzerland, we have seen a trend whereby distribution schemes develop a franchise system more and more. From these roots in competition and distribution, I developed a practice in franchise law. 

WHAT QUALITIES MAKE A SUCCESSFUL FRANCHISE LAWYER?

First, in franchise practice you must pay attention to competition law issues. It is extremely important to be sensitive to these issues, and to matters arising from a contract law perspective. Franchising is one of many effective ways to distribute a brand or a product, and familiarity with several types of distribution schemes provides great insight and understanding into businesses and how they are run. 

YOU ARE ALSO QUALIFIED AT THE BRUSSELS BAR AND HEAD THE GROUP IN THE FIRM’S BRUSSELS OFFICE – HOW DOES THIS ENHANCE YOUR OFFERING TO CLIENTS? 

I started the office for the firm 18 years ago, in 2000. The idea was to focus on Swiss-EU relationships, with particular regard to the distribution of goods and the offering of services across borders. 

As can be imagined, a very large percentage of distribution or franchise agreements concerning Switzerland are related to the EU in one way or another, either because the franchisor is based in the EU or (more rarely) because the franchisor is based in Switzerland. 

Generally speaking, cross-border franchise relationships require a good understanding of the applicable law and practices in different jurisdictions.  My experience has given me a good understanding in this area. 

HOW DO CHALLENGES FOR A LAWYER DIFFER WHEN REPRESENTING A FRANCHISOR AND WHEN REPRESENTING A FRANCHISEE? 

Under Swiss law we do not have a specific franchise law or a Franchise Act – we simply apply the usual contractual provisions and case law, of which there is not a lot, that is related to franchise. Consequently, it is important that any franchise agreement captures all aspects of the relationship between franchisor and franchisee. 

The key thing when representing a franchisor is to ensure their brand and IP rights are well protected. This is fundamental to develop brand recognition and safeguard the business in Switzerland. 

On the franchisee side, it is important to remember that Switzerland is not part of the EU. Though there is more and more harmonisation between Switzerland and the EU, there is still a difference, so we must pay attention to the franchisee’s ability to get the product that they need smoothly into the Swiss market. In a global franchise scheme, it is important that the Swiss franchisees can obtain products that comply with local rules.

THERE IS CURRENTLY NO SPECIFIC REGULATION FOR FRANCHISE LAW IN SWITZERLAND – HOW DOES THIS AFFECT THOSE LOOKING TO ESTABLISH A FRANCHISE IN THE COUNTRY? 

There is an upside and a downside. 

The upside is that we probably have fewer constraints to comply with, which makes it a little easier in terms of business. From a franchisor perspective you don’t have pre-disclosure requirements or the types of obligations you see in the French market, for example. 

The downside is that there is no specific law to govern the relationship. As such, it is important that the contractual arrangements are well prepared to cover any issues that may arise between the parties. 

In this context, international franchise models need to be checked and adapted to the needs of the Swiss environment – it is not easy for franchisors to simply use an existing franchise scheme.

HOW HAS THE COMPETITION IN FRANCHISE LAW IN SWITZERLAND DEVELOPED SINCE YOU BEGAN PRACTISING IN THE AREA? 

The practice of franchise law is fairly new, and is progressively developing. There are a large number of lawyers practising franchise law, in particular those experienced in contract law, though there are not so many practitioners with the skills and experience to advise on complex franchise matters. As such, you face a lot of competitors, but not necessarily tough competitors. The Swiss market is not mature yet, and in future I expect it to evolve towards a much more experienced group of specialists. 

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO YOUNGER LAWYERS LOOKING TO ESTABLISH A CAREER IN FRANCHISING LAW? 

Be open to the world and pay attention to the evolution of franchise law – maybe not all around the world (that would be a little too difficult!), but certainly to what’s going on in the US, as it usually raises issues a couple of years before they surface in Europe. 

Practising franchise law is a highly cross-border activity, which you cannot do if you live life only in your own backyard. You need to look in other jurisdictions, particularly neighbouring ones and those where the other parties are based, to understand the differences and support the parties effectively. 

Most importantly, remember that a franchise relationship is a business partnership. When working on one side or the other, you must work to ensure a win for both sides if the franchise is to be a success. 

WHAT HAS BEEN THE MOST MEMORABLE MATTER YOU HAVE WORKED ON? 

My first case, which was connected to the operation of a sushi franchise, was certainly the most memorable. 

Biographies:

Who's Who Legal Switzerland - Competition

Christophe Rapin heads the firm’s competition, trade and regulatory group in Geneva and Brussels. Admitted to the Bar in Brussels and in Geneva, he advises and represents clients in anti-trust matters and in competition law enforcement procedures. He has wide ranging experience in international distribution, including franchising.

Christophe Rapin is a member of Meyerlustenberger Lachenal’s IP team that consistently ranks top tier in Switzerland. He is particularly well aware of the sensitive issues at the crossroads of IP law and competition law.

Christophe Rapin is also a member of Meyerlustenberger Lachenal’s M&A and corporate team. In that respect, he is active in M&A transactions, particularly in connection to regulated industries.

Christophe Rapin has been chairman of the Swiss Competition Law Association for eight years and is currently vice president of the International League of Competition Law (LIDC). He is the sole attorney in Geneva listed in Who’s Who Legal: Franchise 2017. Furthermore, he is recognised as an expert in Who’s Who Legal: Competition and in the field of banking regulation by IFLR.

WWL says: Christophe Rapin is "well known in Geneva" and "very active in the field", according to sources, who praise the outstanding expertise that he provides for clients.

This biography is an extract from Who's Who Legal: Switzerland which can be purchased from our Shop.

Who's Who Legal Switzerland - Franchise

Christophe Rapin heads the firm’s competition, trade and regulatory group in Geneva and Brussels. Admitted to the Bar in Brussels and in Geneva, he advises and represents clients in antitrust matters and in competition law enforcement procedures. He has wide ranging experience in international distribution, including franchising.

Christophe Rapin is a member of Meyerlustenberger Lachenal’s IP team that consistently ranks top tier in Switzerland. He is particularly well aware of the sensitive issues at the crossroads of IP law and competition law.

Christophe Rapin is also a member of Meyerlustenberger Lachenal’s M&A and corporate team. In that respect, he is active in M&A transactions, particularly in connection to regulated industries.

Christophe Rapin has been chairman of the Swiss Competition Law Association for eight years and is currently vice president of the International League of Competition Law (LIDC). He is the sole attorney in Geneva listed in Who’s Who Legal: Franchise 2017. Furthermore, he is recognised as an expert in Who’s Who Legal: Competition and in the field of banking regulation by IFLR.

WWL says: Christophe Rapin enjoys a fantastic reputation in the market thanks to his vast experience handling international distribution and franchising matters within Switzerland and across the EU.

This biography is an extract from Who's Who Legal: Switzerland which can be purchased from our Shop.

Who's Who Legal Franchise

Christophe Rapin is head of the firm’s competition, trade and regulatory group in Geneva and Brussels.

He assists and represents clients with regards to anti-trust matters as well as competition law enforcement procedures. He has wide ranging experience in internal distribution, including franchising.

Christophe is a member of Meyerlustenberger Lachenal’s IP Team, one of the strongest amongst leaders in intellectual property in Switzerland; and in that respect, Christophe is particularly aware of the sensitive issues at the intersection between IP and competition law.

He is also a member of Meyerlustenberger Lachenal’s M&A and corporate team and he is active in M&A transactions, particularly in connection to regulated industries.

Christophe has been chairman of the Swiss association for competition law for eight years and is currently vice-president of the International League for Competition Law (LIDC).

He is the sole attorney in Geneva listed in Who’s Who Legal: Franchise 2017. He is also recognised as an expert in the field of competition law by Who’s Who Legal and in the field of banking regulation by IFLR.

WWL says: Christophe Rapin is "a go-to franchise lawyer in Switzerland" who impresses peers with his "excellent support" in complex franchising matters.

This biography is an extract from Who's Who Legal: Franchise which can be purchased from our Shop.

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