Pierre-Yves Gunter
Office:
Quai de la Poste 12
1211
City:
Geneva
State:
Geneva
Country:
Switzerland
Tel:
+41 58 261 57 00
Fax:
+41 58 261 57 01

Questions and Answers:

Who's Who Legal Thought Leaders - Arbitration

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 “among the leaders in Switzerland” (Who’s Who Legal: Arbitration, 2017) and “he is a very accomplished lawyer who is well known and well regarded in the field” (Chambers Europe, 2018).

AFTER ALMOST 20 YEARS WITH A HIGHLY RESPECTED ARBITRATION BOUTIQUE, WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO JOIN A FULL-SERVICE FIRM, AND WHAT WAS IT ABOUT BÄR & KARRER IN PARTICULAR THAT ATTRACTED YOU?

I act as counsel and arbitrator. In an increasingly competitive environment, it is crucial to have as counsel an experienced arbitration team with the appropriate size.

Today, I co-head an arbitration team of 40 lawyers in all linguistic areas of Switzerland (Geneva, Zurich, Lugano). Moreover, I can also count on qualified foreign lawyers, which is important for cases not governed by Swiss law.

WILL GAS-PRICING DISPUTES CONTINUE TO GENERATE THE SUBSTANTIALLY HIGH VALUE OF CLAIMS THAT WE HAVE SEEN IN RECENT YEARS, OR HAVE THEY HIT A CEILING?

There will progressively be fewer long-term gas contracts, which will have an impact on the value in dispute.

YOU DO A SIGNIFICANT AMOUNT OF CONSTRUCTION AND PROJECT CASES. IS THERE A JURISDICTION THAT YOUR CLIENTS FAVOUR MOST WHEN IT COMES TO ENGAGING IN RELATED ARBITRATION PROCEEDINGS?

With respect to the seat of arbitration, our construction clients have quite similar expectations as clients in other fields. However, when it comes to the governing law, predictability is an important factor, along with well-established case law in construction.

SWITZERLAND IS RECOGNISED AS VERY FAVOURABLE PLACE TO CONDUCT ARBITRATIONS. HOW HAS IT ACHIEVED AND MAINTAINED THIS REPUTATION?

Switzerland provides a very international and favourable environment for arbitration. The courts are very supportive. Numerous Swiss arbitration practitioners are highly qualified with an excellent command of foreign languages. Swiss arbitration law also offers a flexible framework. There is also a real solidarity among the community.

WHAT ROLE DOES THIRD-PARTY FUNDING PLAY IN THE CURRENT MARKET?

There is an amazing evolution in the market with third-party funding playing an increasingly important role in commercial arbitration.

WHAT HAS BEEN THE MOST INTERESTING CHALLENGE YOU HAVE FACED IN AN ARBITRATION CASE OVER THE PAST FEW YEARS?

As arbitrator, to decide whether I had sufficient elements to admit the existence of corruption.

IS THERE A POINT AT WHICH THE LENGTH OF AN ARBITRATION BEGINS TO HINDER ITS EFFECTIVE OPERATION AND ABILITY TO PRODUCE A GOOD OUTCOME FOR THE PARTIES INVOLVED?

Save perhaps for a limited number of state-related disputes or complex construction arbitration disputes, most arbitration cases should, in my view, not last more than two years maximum. Expedited arbitration is a very efficient (though sometimes challenging) mechanism and not only for small disputes (opt-in). We need to increase awareness of it.

YOU HAVE ENJOYED A LONG AND DISTINGUISHED CAREER SO FAR. WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO ACHIEVE THAT YOU HAVE NOT YET ACCOMPLISHED?

To have a practice as counsel which is even more international (in particular in Asia) and to strengthen my firm’s presence and my own experience in investment arbitration.

Who's Who Legal Thought Leaders - Switzerland

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.

Biographies:

Who's Who Legal Arbitration: Lawyers

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.

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

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

Who's Who Legal Switzerland - Arbitration

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

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

Who's Who Legal Switzerland - Sports & Entertainment

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.

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.

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

Who's Who Legal Sports & Entertainment: Entertainment

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.

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

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

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