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Thought Leaders

Thought Leaders

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

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.

Questions & Answers

Pierre-Yves Gunter is a partner and co-head of the international arbitration group at Bär & Karrer. Since 1991, he has been acting in the field of international commercial arbitration. Until June 2019, he acted as counsel and arbitrator (chairman, sole arbitrator and party-appointed arbitrator) in Switzerland and abroad in a total of 212 arbitration proceedings, both ad hoc and administered. He is experienced in several fields, particularly disputes relating to distribution; construction/complex projects; oil and gas; telecoms and IT; pharma; hotel management; and corporate/post-M&A.

You studied in the USA and have practised in Paris and London. How have your international experiences shaped your career?

My studies at Harvard for my LLM, combined with two years of practice in London and Paris, greatly contributed to the shaping of my career. They allowed me to develop my network, but also to better understand different cultures and legal backgrounds.

What do you find most rewarding about your work in commercial arbitration?

What I enjoy most is the unique opportunity to be exposed to different cultures and practices. Moreover, as both counsel and arbitrator, I regularly meet amazing practitioners and always try to learn from them at various levels (legal, cultural, etc).

You enjoy a broad arbitration practice, covering matters from oil and gas to hotel management. How do you have to adjust your approach to such diverse cases?

Each industry is different. When you start acting in a specific sector, you need to dedicate the appropriate amount of time to understand such sector. Over time, you then need to keep up to date with the evolution of the sector. I always liked the challenge of covering different sectors.

What particular challenges arise when conducting construction arbitration in the Middle East?

The environment is different from the construction environment in the United States or Europe. In some countries (Saudi Arabia, Kuwait or Qatar, for instance), the environment is more different than in Lebanon (which, historically, is closer to Western countries) or the UAE (where a rather high number of foreign practitioners practise, in particular from the UK). Moreover, in certain countries (such as Qatar or the UAE) you need to pay particular attention to specific local legal requirements applicable to arbitrations seated in such countries.

Bär & Karrer’s arbitration department hosts several multilingual, foreign-qualified lawyers. To what extent has this kind of capacity become essential in commercial arbitration practice?

A true asset of Bär & Karrer’s arbitration department is indeed having several multilingual and foreign-qualified lawyers. This kind of capacity is crucial in international arbitration. For instance, I am about to complete, as counsel, an arbitration governed by German law – a German-qualified lawyer in our Zurich office assisted me.

How is the generational shift changing legal practice at your firm? What do younger lawyers do differently?

Our firm pays particular attention to the expectations of the younger generation, at both firm and client levels. At our firm’s level, younger practitioners expect less rigid structures and more flexibility for the organisation of their time, allowing them (including men) to be more active at the family level. They also expect greater visibility in the market.

How do you anticipate the Swiss legal market changing in the next five years? How might this affect your practice?

Swiss arbitration practitioners remain in high demand as arbitrators. The situation is a bit more challenging at the counsel’s level, but all Swiss practitioners, as well as Swiss arbitration organisations, are aware of the challenge and manage to successfully meet that challenge. Indeed, Swiss firms remain successful when it comes to counsel work, despite competition from an increasing number of foreign firms in Switzerland, most of which are located in Geneva.

What advice would you give a younger practitioner starting out in arbitration?

Spend a few years studying and/or working abroad. Get involved with arbitration associations and institutions. Develop your network. Work hard, pay attention to detail and never compromise on quality.

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.
Bär & Karrer is a renowned Swiss law firm with more than 170 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.

Entertainment

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Pierre-Yves Gunter is a go-to dispute resolution expert with considerable experience handling complex entertainment proceedings.

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 170 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.

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 170 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 170 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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