Germany proved its strength as the “powerhouse” behind the eurozone as its stronger than expected growth of 0.7 per cent in the first two quarters helped the European economy emerge from 18 months of recession. Strong exports in the electronic, hardware and chemical industries continue to maintain a healthy trade surplus and increased consumer spending has helped prompt economic growth. Unemployment and insolvency rates are far from receding to pre-2008 levels but the general outlook is positive as Europe’s economy begins to stabilise.
Angela Merkel began her third term as chancellor following her successful campaign during the federal election in September. The Christian Democratic Union (CDU) took 41.5 per cent of the vote with correspondents calling the result a “ringing endorsement of her steady leadership during the eurozone crisis”. Finishing just short of an absolute majority, Merkel has acknowledged the possibility of seeking a coalition to form a new government. While she has made clear her inclination to work with the Social Democrats (SPD), as in the term of 2005–2009, the SPD’s reluctance to link up with the CDU may delay such a revival. Several weeks of difficult negotiations are expected as the country eagerly awaits the composition of their new government.
Germany continued its focus on enforcement during the G20 summit as it stood alongside the UK and France as a key driver behind the pledge to crack down on tax avoidance by multinational companies. Their concerns prompted a report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development arguing for governments to be given greater international taxing powers in order to generate more tax revenues from multinationals, and combat the abuse of base erosion and profit sharing by such companies. German authorities remain persistent in their enforcement efforts, and reports throughout the year highlight the growing number of full-scale investigations and raids against companies including Credit Suisse and Ryanair. The constant demand for specialist advice about tax liability is reflected in the large number of corporate tax lawyers listed in the country. We feature 46 lawyers in the chapter, making it one of the largest in this edition.
Debate over the rising costs of the energy revolution continued throughout the year as the government sought to prevent a further increase of consumer electricity prices. Covering the costs of feed-in tariffs and market premiums paid to privileged installation operators under the Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG) continue to drive up the EEG surcharge with consumers now paying the highest electricity bills in Europe. Short-term measures introduced to stabilise the level of the EEG surcharge created some legal uncertainty for potential investors with some lawyers reporting that renewable projects had come to a “standstill”. Whether the current regulatory framework will be reformed and what structure it will take depends on the outcome of coalition negotiations which will take some time. The pervasiveness of Germany’s energy policy and their shift towards renewable energy is reflected in this year’s edition. Our oil and gas chapter, as it was previously known, has been renamed “energy”, in order to encapsulate the country’s best lawyers working in the expanding field.
Investors entering the German market prompted a busy year for the insurance sector with lawyers reporting a number of cross-border transactions, particularly involving the UK, US, Switzerland, India and China. The impact of Solvency II also filtered through to lawyers’ practices as companies re-evaluated their businesses to adapt to the new regulatory framework. Despite not being finalised at the European level, insurance companies are already adapting to the strict disclosure guidelines and tough new rules governing how they identify and monitor risk. The low interest rate environment created challenges throughout the insurance market as companies felt the strain of honouring guaranteed policies. Those benefiting from a non-life affiliate were able to compensate for underperforming life operations with healthy profits from other lines of business. Despite an increasingly busy year, this chapter features the same number of practitioners as the previous year.
An increased budget for state procurement during recent years allowed for government investment in key areas such as ICT, particularly equipment and infrastructure for the police and other critical services. Procurement consulting is costing more than before as bidders become more aggressive in challenging the tender process. The growth in expertise available at firms to manage the increased litigation is reflected in our research, which highlights an additional eight practitioners in the chapter this year.
Germany upholds its position as the centre of technology and innovation with a host of large producers including BMW, Adidas and Siemens. The diverse industry is matched by equally pioneering lawyers with trademarks and patents making up sizeable chapters in this edition. Advising on design rights has become a large part of a firms’ practice as companies cautiously seek guidance on the validity of designs in light of the litigation wars between Samsung and Apple. Lawyers noted an uptick in their workload as companies seek expert advice on the protection of their intellectual property rights.
Looking to the future, activity across the various sectors look set to improve as the European economy is forecast to achieve steady growth next year. Brisker global trade, growing investor confidence and increased consumer spending are predicted to feature in 2014, giving the upcoming year a much brighter outlook than previous years. Policies affecting individual industries will depend on the outcome of coalition negotiations as the population waits in anticipation for confirmation of their government for the next four years.
The German legal marketplace remained competitive in 2013 with a number of firms opening offices in the country. Both Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan and Simmons & Simmons expanded their German footprint with offices opening in Munich, and Latham & Watkins opened in Düsseldorf, their fourth office in the country. Watson Farley & Williams increased their international presence with the opening of their Frankfurt office and Herbert Smith Freehills opened offices in both Frankfurt and Berlin. Shearman & Sterling took some pressure off the saturated market as it closed two-thirds of its German office networks as part of their restructure plan. The firm has retained its biggest office in Frankfurt in an effort to focus on high-end cross-border transactions in Europe.
Fierce competition in the market has also affected client expectations with firms reporting an increase in demand for regulatory work. Many clients seek a combined service to include commercial and regulatory advice with one of our respondents noting that clients may exclude firms not offering regulatory advice as “part of the package”. Firms are beginning to alter how they operate their practices, with many offering a service tailored to clients industries, in order to distinguish themselves from the diverse mixture of international and national firms and niche practices.
In the following pages we identify the leading firms in the country who are recognised for their expertise across a number of the 33 practice areas listed.
Arbitration has a long tradition in Germany. The German courts have developed increasingly harmonised case law strongly in favour of arbitration and two major institutions offer full arbitration services: The German Institution of Arbitration (DIS) and the German Maritime Arbitration Association. Our research recognises 39 outstanding individuals in this chapter.
Ulrike Gantenberg of Heuking Kühn Lüer Wojtek provides an introduction and overiew of recent arbitration activity in Germany.
We list five “outstanding” lawyers in this chapter, all of whom combine “superb” litigation skills with “great strategic thinking” and are highly experienced at working as part of a global team.
On 13 June 2013, the German Aviation Association held its first “day of aviation” across more than 20 airports in Germany. While the proposed European Trading Scheme has been shelved for now due to pressure from the Asian nations, there has nevertheless been movement on the regulatory front and an amendment to EU Regulation 261 governing air passenger rights is on the horizon. Sources commented that “consumer protection is a huge buzzword right now” and predict an ensuing increase in work, particularly in regulatory and finance matters. The 14 specialists featured in our chapter this year can expect a busy upcoming year.
The German banking sector continues to offer relative safety in comparison to other jurisdictions continuing to feel the harsh effects of the eurozone debt crisis. Moody’s Investor Service recently upgraded its assessment of the German system from “negative” to “stable” for the first time since 2008, as lenders increase capital buffers and take encouragement from reduced crisis-related losses. With capital levels expected to strengthen over the next 12 months, there is cause for cautious optimism among banks and financial institutions. Our research recognises 24 outstanding lawyers for their work in this field.
Enforcement levels in Germany remain high as the government continues to increase regulatory scrutiny and sanctions that corporations and individuals face for bribery. The highest-profile case of 2013 was the unprecedented criminal bribery charge brought by the Public Prosecution Office against the former federal president, Christian Wulff in April. In light of growing compliance obligations, companies are turning to business crime defence experts with increasing regularity. We feature 44 lawyers in this chapter.
Increased activity in the financial markets has indicated a more positive year for capital markets lawyers. The equity market has seen some improvement with a greater number of large-cap IPOs and capital increases and the debt market is likewise growing with activity in both the investment grade and mid-cap segment. We feature 27 lawyers in this chapter.
The German Ministry of Justice recently released a second edition of its brochure, Law – Made in Germany, designed to entice foreign litigants to sue in Germany as the battle of the forums continues in the EU. In this active sector we feature 29 lawyers.
The Mediation Act implemented in 2012 was the first piece of legislation to formally regulate this method of dispute resolution and goes further than the requirements of the European Directive to cover all forms of mediation, irrespective of the form of the dispute or the place of residence. Although there are no official figures, sources state that there is a steady stream of work that is unlikely to decrease in the near future. Seven “top-class” mediators are featured this year.
The increase in the prosecution of cartels in Germany has continued throughout 2013.The Federal Cartel Office has consolidated its emphasis on enforcement and is looking to step up efforts to address foreign-to-foreign mergers over the course of 2014. Last year also saw a new amendment to the German Competition Act which came into force at the end of June. The principal purpose of the amendment is to align German merger control with EU law, to clarify provisions on unilateral conduct and to increase the overall effectiveness of the German antitrust system. Competition lawyers have been very busy advising clients on the likely impact of the amendment and our research identifies 51 practitioners who “stand out” for their expertise in the competition field.
The construction industry remains a key sector of the German economy despite the current economic difficulties the industry is facing. While certain high-profile players have made cutbacks in their workforce, there remain positive signs including a boom in home construction. Eighteen lawyers feature in this chapter.
Corporate governance remains an important issue in Germany as lawyers strive to assist companies in building effective structures to ensure their businesses are properly managed. We list 26 leading practitioners in this chapter.
Over the past year, the trend of increasing inbound immigration, facilitated by the 2005 immigration law, has continued as numerous German companies actively seek skilled workers across a range of industries. Low unemployment levels mean that the jurisdiction remains an attractive destination for qualified workers, who are looking to take advantage of increasing demand for the talent in the health care and engineering sectors in particular. Traditional advisory work constitutes a large part of immigration practice in the region, and clients continue to seek the services of renowned immigration experts. In this chapter we highlight five practitioners with “established reputations” in the field.
Germany introduced a new corporate tax law in June 2013 including changes to the transfer pricing rules, an extension of the scope of the group exemption provision for real estate transfer tax purposes and an expansion of the limits on offsetting losses related to reorganisations, among others. We select 46 lawyers to appear in this chapter who will be guiding businesses through these changes.
Germany’s energy reform plans, laid out in 2010, set a target for 80 per cent emissions reduction by 2050. Following criticism from businesses about rising energy prices and falling competitiveness in global markets, Angela Merkel announced her aim to curb the renewable energy subsidies to lower the pressure as part of her election campaign in June. Despite this, major uncertainty surrounds the shape of the new relevant energy framework following the recent elections. Once the framework is established, sources anticipate a busy upcoming year dealing with the inevitable new regulations, particularly in the renewables market. There are 18 lawyers listed in this chapter.
Environment lawyers in Germany reported another busy year with chemicals and recycling the “hot topics”. Identified as a growth area of practice, the legal market has recently become more competitive as larger international firms look to develop their expertise in this field. Despite this, specialist firms are retaining a good market share and the 20 lawyers listed below reflect the varied legal market.
The “hot topic” of the past year has been the growing strength of the franchisee bar and the debate as to whether franchisees are employees. Levels of work have remained steady with lawyers reporting a good volume of inbound activity. However, according to those we spoke to, outbound activity has tapered off and German-based companies seem reluctant to expand beyond their German-speaking neighbours. Eight “first-class” individuals are singled out for their expertise in this section.
This rapidly advancing industry continues to keep IT lawyers busy as companies require increasingly specialist advice in order to achieve their business objectives. Keeping on top of internet security, cloud computing and social media are just some of the issues which necessitate the assistance of some of Germany’s top IT lawyers. We feature 54 leading practitioners in this thriving practice area.
In March 2012, changes to the German Insolvency Code came into force bringing it more in line with the UK and US insolvency regimes. Lawyers reported that these amendments are starting to take effect, particularly the changes to the appointment of the insolvency administrator who is now selected by the creditors’ committee rather than the court. It is hoped that the amendments will make Germany a more attractive jurisdiction in which to effect restructurings. We select 19 lawyers in this chapter.
The insurance industry is still in the process of implementing the Solvency II Directive, which introduces an amended regulatory framework and greater capital requirements. However, a key European Parliament session to discuss its amendments was pushed back, causing further delays. Despite this, a number of local regulators are implementing parts of the new framework in anticipation of it being finalised on a European level, although nothing firm has been decided. The following 17 lawyers listed in this chapter are busy advising their clients on the impact these changes will have and are expecting the coming year to be demanding.
According to the European Fund and Asset Management Association, at the end of 2010 Germany had €1,496 billion under management comprising 11 per cent of the market in Europe. As the industry comes to terms with increased regulation, investment funds lawyers are in “high demand”. Twenty-two “outstanding” individuals feature in the following pages.
The hot topic this year has been pricing. The pricing regulations in Germany are fairly rigid, and were recently amended to require dossiers to be drawn up for all products on the market for pricing reviews (the AMNOG law). This will have an impact on market access as companies are required to prove through their dossier that their drug should priced above the “generic drug” level. According to our sources this has led to an increase in the number of companies asking for advice, and the upcoming year will be a “learning curve” for both clients and firms. There are 35 life sciences specialists listed this year.
Continued economic growth and stability in the country over the past year means that the labour and employment sector has seen encouraging levels of activity. Management-side lawyers’ advice is being sought in relation to business organisation and restructuring, as employers seek to prepare for any future change in economic circumstances. Practitioners are also active in relation to the new EU Data Protection regulation, as they look to reconcile the new law with extensive German legislation on the subject. Our research identifies 41 “leading” lawyers in the management labour and employment field.
Germany has benefitted in recent years from increased investment from Asia which has seen a growth in M&A activity in the services, financial, energy, pharmaceutical and industrial sectors. Forecasts for the year ahead predict the majority of growth in the mid-cap market with transactions valued at over €500 million still very rare. We list 35 lawyers in this chapter.
Throughout 2013 the Federal Patent Court has been particularly busy as Germany continues to be a popular forum for warring multinational companies, which are attracted to the jurisdiction’s court patent litigation model. Lawyers have also pointed to a greater appetite for prosecution from major clients, who are increasingly determined to protect their designs in light of fierce competition from rivals in their respective sectors. We list 39 patent lawyers who are leaders in their field.
Tilman Müller-Stoy and Florian Bewer of Bardehle Pagenberg mbB take an in-depth look at the country’s patent litigation system and explore whether the Unitary Patent and Unified Patent Court system will reduce its importance.
Private client work continues to remain active as high net worth individuals and families require assistance with wealth and succession planning. Five nominees are selected for inclusion in this chapter.
An important development noted by our sources is the increasing significance of criminal liability and the potential criminal exposure for boards of directors relating to product issues. This is likely to increase the amount of contentious work for our product liability specialists. Changes to the Product Safety Act on a European level are also on the horizon although nothing concrete has been discussed, and so it can be expected that the stream of work in the area will not decrease. Thirteen lawyers are listed this year.
The infrastructure sector has been struggling over the past few years, as concern about the Eurozone situation has hampered growth. However, there are some notable projects in the air transport, rail, energy and utilities sectors that are keeping lawyers busy. In this section we single out the three most highly-regarded practitioners for project finance.
Public procurement lawyers are adapting to an increasingly specialised and sophisticated marketplace. Managing the boom in litigation has become a focus for firms as a growing number of clients indicate their willingness to aggressively challenge tendering processes and decisions. We list 21 experts in this chapter.
The German commercial real estate market saw a strong start to 2013, reflecting the cautious optimism expressed by contributors at this stage last year. According to global real estate services firm CBRE Group, both domestic and international investment continue to see Germany as the most attractive target throughout Europe, as demonstrated by the total investment turnover in the first quarter of 2013, which reached nearly €7 million. While the real estate market is not impervious to the effects of European debt levels and slow economies, many predict that the growing confidence of businesses and consumers alike will encourage more major transactions throughout 2014. Our research identifies 34 lawyers who stand out for their sector-leading abilities in this field.
Unaffected by the Eurozone crisis, sports and entertainment remain booming industries providing a flurry of activity for lawyers. Our research features nine leading lawyers in this chapter.
Germany is a global leader in the rapidly developing telecoms and media industry, as operators continue to invest in high-speed networks and jostle for long-term evolution subscribers in a highly competitive market. Lawyers in the sector have also been busy advising on the implications of the amended Telecommunications Act, which entered into force in 2012 and implements the revised EU regulatory framework into German telecoms law. Our research identifies 17 lawyers who display “great adaptability” in this technologically complex and fast-moving sector.
As customs audits become more regular and the authorities more attentive, clients are calling upon their lawyers with increasing frequency to help manage risks. We list four lawyers in this chapter who are deemed “experts” in the field of trade and customs law.
This year has seen a steady amount of activity in the trademark field. Sources note that there has been a rise in the amount of litigation work. According to our lawyers one notable development is the consistent use of national trademarks over community trademarks, particularly in the pharmaceutical sector. However, with no significant regulations foreseen, the field is likely to continue to see modest growth. We list 45 trademark specialists in this chapter.
Bardehle Pagenberg, a partnership of patent attorneys and attorneys-at-law, is one of the largest IP firms in Europe. We represent our clients in application proceedings and in litigation in all fields of intellectual property, including all procedures before the patent and trademark offices as well as litigation before the relevant courts through all appeal instances. The firm specialises in application proceedings as well as in infringement and validity litigation in patents, trademarks, designs, copyright and unfair competition law.
Clifford Chance is one of the world’s largest law firms with 3,400 legal advisers working out of 35 offices in 25 countries. The firm has a strong presence in Germany with offices based in Frankfurt, Munich and Düsseldorf. Our research identifies the firm in 19 practice areas with a total of 33 listings.
Part of the international CMS organisation, CMS Hasche Sigle has more than 600 lawyers, tax advisers and notaries based in Germany. Combining a focus on strong client relationships with technical excellence, CMS Hasche Sigle enjoys a “prominent” position in the legal marketplace as demonstrated by our research in which the firm garners 25 listings across 16 practice areas.
Global law firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer fields the highest number of lawyers to this edition of any firm in the research. The firm has a long-standing reputation in Germany that dates back to 1840, and with six offices in the country it is well positioned to assist clients with all their business law needs. The firm prides itself on achieving excellence in all that it does and endeavours to understand clients’ industries and underlying business goals. The success of the firm’s strategy is borne out in our research; the firm achieves 64 listings across 25 practice areas.
A “premier” German law firm, Gleiss Lutz attracts clients of the highest calibre and provides advice across a full range of legal disciplines. The firm is well positioned to advise clients on domestic and international matters and has offices in Berlin, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Munich, Stuttgart and Brussels, as well as associated offices in Budapest, Prague and Warsaw. In this edition the firm achieves a total of 42 listings across 18 practice areas.
Created by a merger in 1990, Hengeler Mueller now has offices in four key cities across Germany (Berlin, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt and Munich), as well as in Brussels and London. The firm has a clear commercial focus and a team made up of more than 250 lawyers. Hengeler Mueller has a “strong international presence” and “global scope” largely due to its privileged relationship with a number of leading independent law firms in multiple jurisdictions. The firm provides advice to a variety of clients including banks and companies across a wide range of industry sectors. The firm is considered to be firmly “at the forefront” of dealings with the corporate world. Forty-three lawyers are included in this edition across 16 different practice areas.
Hogan Lovells is a truly global law firm with over 2,500 lawyers working in more than 40 offices across the world. The firm has five offices across Germany in Berlin, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg and Munich, and offers services in a wide variety of practice areas and industry sectors. The international scope of the firm allows access to the major financial centres of the world and an “impressive depth” of industry knowledge, ensures the firm’s continued growth and consistently high-quality legal advice. The range of the firm’s practice is highlighted by its 24 listings across 14 practice areas.
Established in Munich in 1950, Noerr now consists of five offices in Germany, seven in central and Eastern Europe and single offices in the UK, Spain and US. Noerr has established itself as a “market leader” in Europe and has an increasingly international client base. The firm achieves 31 listings across 15 practice areas in this edition.
It is not possible to buy entry into any Who's Who Legal publication
Nominees have been selected based upon comprehensive, independent survey work with both general counsel and private practice lawyers worldwide. Only specialists who have met independent international research criteria are listed.