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Thought Leaders

Thought Leaders

Pierre-Yves Gunter

Pierre-Yves Gunter

Bär & Karrer LtdQuai de la Poste 12GenevaSwitzerland1211
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Thought Leader

WWL Ranking: Thought Leader

Questions & Answers

Pierre-Yves Gunter has been active in international commercial arbitration since 1991. He has acted as counsel and arbitrator in over 200 cases. After 19 years with Python (formerly Python & Peter), he joined Bär & Karrer in January 2017 as partner and co-head of the international arbitration group, which consists of 40 lawyers. He has been described as “a big name in the field” (Who’s Who Legal, 2019) and “an exceptionally good lawyer” (Chambers Global, 2019).

WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO PURSUE A LEGAL CAREER?

From the age of 15, although nobody in my family had a legal career (they had created companies involved in the watch business), I wanted to be a lawyer. I was fascinated by the defence of clients and the concept of justice.

WHAT QUALITIES MAKE FOR A SUCCESSFUL ARBITRATOR?

It is a combination of in-depth knowledge of the file; a solid legal background; the ability to team up with the other arbitrators; and an understanding of how difficult and challenging the job of counsel can be.

WHAT ASPECT OF YOUR ROLE DO YOU MOST ENJOY?

The opportunity to constantly discover new fields of activities, new people and new cultures.

WHAT MAKES BÄR & KARRER STAND OUT FROM ITS COMPETITORS IN THE MARKET?

Bär & Karrer has developed, over the years, one of the largest and strongest arbitration teams in Switzerland. It is composed of about 40 practioners, including several foreign lawyers located in Geneva, Zurich and Lugano – so it has a unique presence in the three linguistic areas. A sound representation of women has been achieved. The team covers all area of arbitration and has deep knowledge of sport arbitration. The team also has solid expertise in specific fields, such as construction, energy (in particular oil and gas), IT and post-M&A, as well as pharmaceutical.

YOU HAVE A BROAD BASE OF EXPERTISE. TO WHAT EXTENT IS SECTOR-BASED TECHNICAL EXPERTISE IMPORTANT WHEN TAKING ON AN APPOINTMENT, AND HOW DO YOU GO ABOUT GETTING UP TO SPEED?

Sector-based technical expertise is increasingly important, particularly in fields such as construction. From time to time you need to become familiar with a new field, and can learn in different ways: from the parties’ submissions, from your co-arbitrators or from publicly available information.

SOURCES HAVE NOTED THE INCREASING ROLE OF THIRD-PARTY FUNDERS IN ARBITRATION. HOW IS THIS TREND AFFECTING YOUR REGION?

This is definitely a trend in Switzerland. Funders are increasingly interested in commercial arbitration. Investment arbitration is not the sole focus anymore.

LOOKING BACK OVER YOUR CAREER, WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR PROUDEST ACHIEVEMENT?

As counsel, to have contributed to defeating a multibillion-dollar gas arbitration claim. As arbitrator, to have been appointed as president in two large construction cases relating to the extension of the Panama Canal while leading arbitrators with a worldwide reputation, and who are more senior than me, are presiding over parallel cases.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO YOUNGER PRACTITIONERS HOPING TO ONE DAY BE IN YOUR POSITION?

Work hard, in particular for the early years. Do not pay too much attention to quality of life at the beginning of your career, spend two to three years studying and working abroad (ideally on two different continents); identify one or two sector-specific fields in which you can become a specialist. Develop your network – be active in arbitration associations such as below-40 associations; and do not simply attend arbitration conferences, but appear as a speaker.

WWL Ranking: Thought Leader

Questions & Answers

Pierre Yves Gunter is a partner and co-head of the international arbitration group at Bär & Karrer. Since 1991 he has acted in the field of international commercial arbitration. He has acted as counsel and arbitrator (chairman, sole arbitrator and party-appointed arbitrator) in Switzerland and abroad in a total of 205 arbitration proceedings both ad hoc and administered. He is experienced in several fields, particularly in disputes relating to distribution, construction and complex projects, oil and gas, telecommunications and IT, pharmaceutical, hotel management, and corporate/post-M&A.

DESCRIBE YOUR CAREER TO DATE.

I have been active in international arbitration for 27 years. At the beginning of my career I was fortunate to have as mentors Professor Pierre Lalive and his brother Dr Jean-Flavien Lalive.

Later on I gained very useful experience abroad while being seconded to Clifford Chance as a foreign associate in London and Paris (under the supervision of John Beechey) for two years before coming back to Switzerland.

After 19 years with the firm Python (previously Python & Peter) I joined Bär & Karrer in January 2017 as partner and co-head of the arbitration group with Daniel Hochstrasser. I continue to act as counsel and arbitrator.

YOUR PRACTICE IS VERY ACTIVE WITHIN THE MIDDLE EAST. WHY DO YOU THINK ARBITRATION HAS BECOME SUCH A POPULAR FORM OF DISPUTE RESOLUTION IN THIS AREA?

Yes, I am very active in the region and for parties located in that region (in particular Lebanon, UAE, Qatar, Kuwait), both as counsel and arbitrator. In locations such as Dubai and Qatar, an amazing number of arbitration cases arose from construction projects such as the Palm Project (Dubai) and the Pearl Project (Doha).

Moreover, most international law firms have an office in the region, in particular in Dubai, which contributes to the promotion of arbitration in the Middle East. The region is also becoming increasingly popular because Middle Eastern countries are using their best efforts to promote and support arbitration, frequently with the active involvement of the governments. Their efforts are also reflected in their adoption of modern arbitration laws and modern arbitration institutional rules. Since most of those countries are civil law countries, Swiss arbitration practitioners with their civil law background can be of great assistance. As an example the law of Qatar is based on the law of Egypt, which is based on French law. Therefore there are historically important legal ties between Continental Europe and the Middle East. 

WHAT QUALITIES DO CLIENTS LOOK FOR WHEN SELECTING AN ARBITRATOR?

In my view and based on my experience as counsel and arbitrator, when selecting an arbitrator clients look for: experience in arbitration in general, as well as in particular fields of practice; expected command and knowledge of the file; ability to ensure that their position is properly heard; command of the language of the arbitration; ability to interact with the other members of the arbitral tribunal; and experience in dealing with complex factual and legal issues.

GIVEN SWITZERLAND’S POSITION AS AN INTERNATIONAL HUB FOR ARBITRATION, THE MARKET IS GROWING INCREASINGLY CROWDED. WHAT MAKES BÄR & KARRER STAND OUT FROM ITS COMPETITORS?

The fact that the Swiss arbitration market continues to grow and to attract international firms evidences the attractiveness and leading position of Switzerland in international arbitration as a leading hub. Bär & Karrer is one of the very few law firms with offices in the three linguistic areas of Switzerland, which is very important in many respects – in particular because (contrary to other countries, such as France), the arbitration market is not concentrated in one city.

Our arbitration team, composed of 40 practitioners, offers expertise in commercial, investment and sports arbitration. All practitioners of our arbitration group are recognised by their peers and our team works in a fully integrated manner. Moreover, we can be seconded by other specialised lawyers in all fields such as mergers and acquisitions, oil and gas, construction, intellectual property, IT, pharmaceuticals, etc.

SOURCES HAVE HIGHLIGHTED THE GROWING IMPORTANCE OF THIRD-PARTY FUNDING IN COMMERCIAL ARBITRAL PROCEEDINGS. HOW DO YOU THINK THIS TREND IS LIKELY TO DEVELOP?

I did witness that trend and I can confirm that third-party funders are extremely interested in increasing their presence in commercial arbitration. Some recent uncertainties that could possibly affect the development of investment arbitration can only reinforce such a trend.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO YOUNGER PRACTITIONERS WHO HOPE ONE DAY TO SUCCEED IN INTERNATIONAL ARBITRATION?

At the beginning of your career, gain experience in other legal fields as well as arbitration. Be ready to work hard. Be open to different cultures. Spend a certain period of time abroad. Develop your network. Make no compromise regarding your independence and impartiality in order to build and maintain your reputation.

GENDER DIVERSITY CONTINUES TO BE IMPORTANT TOPIC WITHIN THE INTERNATIONAL ARBITRATION COMMUNITY. WHAT STEPS HAS BÄR & KARRER TAKEN TO PROMOTE WOMEN WITHIN ITS ARBITRATION PRACTICE GROUP?

Bär & Karrer’s arbitration team has a fair balance of men and women. Several arbitration partners are women – such as Nadja Jaisli in Zurich and Alexandra Johnson in Geneva. We do care about the promotion of women and their active involvement with associations, including those that care about diversity. The best example is the recent appointment of Alexandra Johnson to the board of ArbitralWomen.

LOOKING BACK OVER YOUR CAREER, WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR PROUDEST ACHIEVEMENT?

To have built an international reputation (although there are, of course, quite a number of much better-known arbitration practitioners than me), but also to have developed a network of individuals worldwide who are business contacts but also became friends. 

Regarding specific cases, I was in particular honoured to be appointed twice by a leading state gas producer to act as co-counsel in multibillion-USD gas disputes. As arbitrator, I was honoured to be appointed (by the parties represented by leading international law firms, and by well-known co-arbitrators) as the chair of arbitration cases relating to the extension of the Canal of Panama. This is a fascinating and challenging task.

Global Leader

Arbitration 2019

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Thought Leader

WWL says

Pierre-Yves Gunter is celebrated as “one of the most well-respected arbitrators in Switzerland”. He acts as both counsel and arbitrator and is widely endorsed as “one of the very best” in the field.

Biography

Pierre-Yves Gunter is a partner and co-heads the international arbitration pratice at Bär & Karrer.

He has been acting since 1991 in the field of international commercial arbitration.

Pierre-Yves has acted as counsel and arbitrator (chairman, sole arbitrator and party-appointed arbitrator) in Switzerland and abroad in arbitration proceedings, both ad hoc (including UNCITRAL) and administered (ie, ICC, Swiss Rules, LCIA, ICDR, WIPO, FOSFA, Vienna International Arbitral Centre, Stockholm Chamber of Commerce).

Pierre-Yves Gunter is experienced in several industries, in particular disputes relating to agency, sales, distribution, joint-venture, construction and complex projects, oil and gas, telecommunications and IT, intellectual property, pharmaceutical, real estate, hotel management, commodity and international trade, and corporate/post-M&A.

Pierre-Yves Gunter also frequently represents parties in arbitration matters before the Swiss Supreme Court (appeals filed against arbitration awards) and before other Swiss courts.

He previously served as a co-chair of the international arbitration committee of the American Bar Association (section of international law and practice) and is a former board member of the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC), where he also was part of the rules revision committee.

Pierre-Yves Gunter graduated in 1987 from the Law School of Neuchâtel University (summa cum laude) and holds an LLM from Harvard Law School. He has written various articles on international arbitration and frequently appears as speaker at conferences on arbitration. He is fluent in English and French and has a good command of German.

Entertainment 2018

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Pierre-Yves Gunter stands out as "an extremely experienced and internationally renowned lawyer" with a strong regulatory and arbitration practice.

Biography

Pierre-Yves Gunter is a partner and co-head of the international arbitration group at Bär & Karrer.

He has been acting since 1991 in the field of international commercial arbitration.

Up to October 2018, he has acted as counsel and arbitrator (chairman, sole arbitrator and party-appointed arbitrator) in Switzerland and abroad in a total of 205 arbitration proceedings, both ad hoc (including UNCITRAL) and administered (ICC, Swiss Rules, LCIA, ICDR, WIPO, FOSFA, Vienna International Arbitral Center, Stockholm Chamber of Commerce, etc).

He is regularly appointed as arbitrator by the leading arbitration institutions.

He is experienced in several fields, in particular disputes relating to agency, sales, distribution, joint-venture, construction and complex projects, oil and gas, telecommunications and IT, intellectual property, pharmaceutical, real estate, hotel management, commodity and international trade, and corporate/post-M&A.

He also frequently represents parties in arbitration matters before the Swiss Supreme Court (appeals filed against arbitration awards) and before other Swiss courts.

Before joining Bär & Karrer, Mr Gunter worked for 19 years with Python (previously Python & Peter) and previously for four years with Lalive & Partners in Geneva, as well as for two years as a foreign associate in London and Paris with the international arbitration group at Clifford Chance.

Between 1996 and 1999, he was a member of the arbitration committee of the Geneva Chamber of Commerce and Industry (now the Geneva Swiss Chamber) and between 1991 and 1998 he was a member of the editorial board of the Swiss Arbitration Bulletin (Bulletin ASA). Between 2007 and 2009 he was co-chair of the international arbitration committee of the American Bar Association (section international law and practice). From March 2009 until March 2013, he was sitting as board member of the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) and during that period was part of the rules revision committee.

He graduated in 1987 from the Law School of Neuchâtel University (summa cum laude) and holds an LLM (1991) from Harvard Law School. He has written various articles on international arbitration and frequently appears as speaker at conferences on arbitration. He is fluent in English and French, and has a good command of German.

National Leader

Switzerland - Arbitration

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Pierre-Yves Gunter draws praise as “a big name in the field”. He has considerable experience as both counsel and arbitrator in a wide spectrum of disputes arising from joint ventures, construction, IP and M&A projects.

Biography

Pierre-Yves Gunter is a partner and co-heads the international arbitration pratice at Bär & Karrer.

He has been acting since 1991 in the field of international commercial arbitration.

Pierre-Yves has acted as counsel and arbitrator (chairman, sole arbitrator and party-appointed arbitrator) in Switzerland and abroad in arbitration proceedings, both ad hoc (including UNCITRAL) and administered (ie, ICC, Swiss Rules, LCIA, ICDR, WIPO, FOSFA, Vienna International Arbitral Centre, Stockholm Chamber of Commerce).

Pierre-Yves Gunter is experienced in several industries, in particular disputes relating to agency, sales, distribution, joint ventures, construction and complex projects, oil and gas, telecommunications and IT, intellectual property, pharmaceutical, real estate, hotel management, commodity and international trade, and corporate/post-M&A.

Pierre-Yves Gunter also frequently represents parties in arbitration matters before the Swiss Supreme Court (appeals filed against arbitration awards) and before other Swiss courts.

He previously served as a co-chair of the international arbitration committee of the American Bar Association (section of international law and practice) and is a former board member of the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC), where he also was part of the rules revision committee.

Pierre-Yves Gunter graduated in 1987 from the Law School of Neuchâtel University (summa cum laude) and holds an LLM from Harvard Law School. He has written various articles on international arbitration and frequently appears as speaker at conferences on arbitration. He is fluent in English and French and has a good command of German.

Bär & Karrer is a renowned Swiss law firm with more than 150 lawyers in Zurich, Geneva, Lugano and Zug. Its core business is advising clients on innovative and complex transactions and representing them in litigation, arbitration and regulatory proceedings. The firm's clients range from multinational corporations to private individuals in Switzerland and around the world.

Bär & Karrer has been repeatedly awarded Switzerland's "Law Firm of the Year" by the most prestigious international legal ranking agencies.

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Pierre-Yves Gunter is recognised as a very highly skilled lawyer in the field of sports and entertainment commended for his top-tier work on the contentious side.

Biography

Pierre-Yves Gunter is a partner and co-heads the international arbitration practice at Bär & Karrer.

He has been acting since 1991 in the field of international commercial arbitration.

Pierre-Yves has acted as counsel and arbitrator (chairman, sole arbitrator and party-appointed arbitrator) in Switzerland and abroad in arbitration proceedings, both ad hoc (including UNCITRAL) and administered (ie, ICC, Swiss Rules, LCIA, ICDR, WIPO, FOSFA, Vienna International Arbitral Centre, Stockholm Chamber of Commerce).

Pierre-Yves Gunter is experienced in several industries, in particular disputes relating to the field of sport and entertainment, agency, sales, distribution, joint-venture, construction and complex projects, oil and gas, telecommunications and IT, intellectual property, pharmaceutical, real estate, hotel management, commodity and international trade, and corporate/post-M&A.

Pierre-Yves Gunter also frequently represents parties in arbitration matters before the Swiss Supreme Court (appeals filed against arbitration awards) and before other Swiss courts.

He previously served as a co-chair of the international arbitration committee of the American Bar Association (section of international law and practice) and is a former board member of the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC), where he also was part of the rules revision committee.

Pierre-Yves Gunter graduated in 1987 from the Law School of Neuchâtel University (summa cum laude) and holds an LLM from Harvard Law School. He has written various articles on international arbitration and frequently appears as speaker at conferences on arbitration. He is fluent in English and French and has a good command of German.

Bär & Karrer is a renowned Swiss law firm with more than 150 lawyers in Zurich, Geneva, Lugano and Zug. Its core business is advising clients on innovative and complex transactions and representing them in litigation, arbitration and regulatory proceedings. The firm's clients range from multinational corporations to private individuals in Switzerland and around the world.

Bär & Karrer has been repeatedly awarded Switzerland's "Law Firm of the Year" by the most prestigious international legal ranking agencies.

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