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Thought Leaders

Thought Leaders

Thought Leader

Thought Leaders - Arbitration 2020

Q&A

WWL Ranking: Thought Leader

WWL says

Pierre-Yves Gunter is held in high regard by peers who note he sits among the most prominent arbitration specialists in the Swiss market.

Questions & Answers

Pierre-Yves Gunter has been active in international commercial arbitration since 1991. He has acted as counsel and arbitrator in over 220 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.

What did you find most challenging about starting your career in law?

Finding the right balance between my private and professional life, and taking some distance from the files so as not to be too affected by the stress.

You have been involved in arbitration proceedings across Europe, the Middle East and Africa in the past couple of years. How do you prepare for complex international disputes?

As with every arbitration, you need to have an excellent knowledge of the file; but in addition, you need to spend the necessary time to understand complex technical and financial issues. 

What has been the most memorable arbitration you have been part of?

A fashion arbitration case involving a distribution agreement, where one of the world’s most famous fashion designers appeared in person and, at the beginning of his examination, introduced himself as “the God of fashion”.

How would you assess the globalisation of the legal market, and in particular of arbitration proceedings?

There are several positive effects; for instance, the importance of the legal and cultural differences is reduced through standardisation, use of soft law, etc. There are less surprises. However, sometimes certain counsel underestimate the importance and relevance of the applicable law. 

Since you began your career, what has been the biggest change you have seen in relation to the way that arbitration proceedings are conducted?

Everything became much more formal. My mentor Professor Pierre Lalive anticipated the risk that arbitration may become overregulated. One shall, however, bear in mind that arbitration is no longer practised by a small club of distinguished university professors and has become much more globalised, which explains the need for more regulations, soft law, etc.

What steps can younger arbitration practitioners take to improve their chances of getting appointments? Is there an important role to play here for experienced lawyers?

They need to be known by the arbitration practitioners and institutions, and to develop their network. Experienced arbitration lawyers and arbitrators can guide them.

What do you think will be the greatest challenge facing the next generation of arbitration practitioners?

The number of lawyers interested in practising in arbitration is enormous, but the number of cases, in my view, is not growing at the same speed. My recommendation to young lawyers is to practise arbitration and litigation.

You have enjoyed a very distinguished career so far. What would you like to achieve that you have not yet accomplished?

I gained a lot of experience in Europe, the USA and the Middle East. I would like to increase my experience in Asia, Eastern Europe and Latin America.

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 2020

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Pierre-Yves Gunter is held in high regard by peers who note he sits among the most prominent arbitration specialists in the Swiss market.

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.

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 2020

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Pierre-Yves Gunter is celebrated for, among other things, his “expertise in construction and Middle East matters” and his “tremendous experience as an arbitrator”, as well as his “hands-on approach”.

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.

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Pierre-Yves Gunter is distinguished for his impressive and long-standing sports arbitration practice.

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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