Dispute resolution: commercial litigation in Austria
Praised for its 'great handling of difficult situations', Binder Grösswang's sizeable, 'highly motivated, pragmatic and reliable' team has a fine reputation for representing financial institutions in proceedings against investors; it is defending Erste Bank Group against class actions and mass claims brought by investors pertaining to the insolvency of Alpine Group. Other key areas of expertise include commercial and IT-related disputes alongside private enforcement proceedings, while team head Christian Klausegger has been handling an increasing number of insurance coverage disputes for insured entities and insurers. Stefan Albiez stands out for his 'broad and in-depth knowledge' and 'fantastic problem-solving skills'.
Dorda Rechtsanwalte GmbH's contentious work frequently includes white-collar criminal defence issues and is based on three pillars: Florian Kremslehner heads the commercial and corporate litigation team and the overall dispute resolution department, which consists of 'bright and talented' lawyers; the 'pragmatic' Felix Hörlsberger is the main contact for insurance defence litigation; and Bernhard Rieder is the name to note for class actions. In recent work, Hörlsberger acted for Chubb as D&O insurer for the Austrian manufacturer Facc in D&O litigation and Rieder represented real estate company Atrium in a civil action brought by over 700 former shareholders. Stephan Steinhofer is another key member of the team. Thomas Voppichler joined KNOETZL HAUGENEDER NETAL in 2018.
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer acts for an extensive roster of national and international corporate and finance clients, for which it handles various commercial and corporate disputes, including criminal proceedings and follow-on cartel claims. Team head Thomas Kustor is acting for Volkswagen in a dispute pertaining to NOx and CO2-emission issues, and, together with the office in Düsseldorf and colleagues from various other departments, the practice is also representing Airbus Defence and Space in ongoing criminal proceedings conducted by the Austrian prosecution office.
Dispute resolution firm KNOETZL HAUGENEDER NETAL covers the gamut of civil and criminal litigation and places significant focus on liability claims alongside corporate, commercial and investor-state disputes. Its broad offering is matched by an equally sizeable team, which was further strengthened by the arrival of senior counsel and construction litigation expert Valentina Spatz from Schima Mayer Starlinger Rechtsanwälte GmbH and counsel Thomas Voppichler from Dorda Rechtsanwalte GmbH in 2018, as well as counsel Oliver Loksa from Binder Grösswang in September 2017. Other key members of Bettina Knoetzl's team include corporate litigator Katrin Hanschitz, damage claims specialist Judith Schacherreiter and counsel Natascha Tunkel, who is experienced in the enforcement of foreign judgments and internal investigations. Teresa Bogensberger left in December 2017 to work independently.
Cerha Hempel has a strong profile for contentious construction and trust-related matters alongside shareholder and post-M&A disputes. Practice head and 'excellent negotiator' Irene Welser represented Asfinag in three separate but connected proceedings against a construction conglomerate pertaining to insolvency-related and commercial issues. Michaela Siegwart, who was appointed senior counsel alongside Susanne Molitoris in October 2017, acted for Wiener Linien in a dispute with a contractor. Other clients include Immovate, Die Erste Leasing Immobilienverwaltungs- und vermietungsgesellschaft and Spar.
At CMS, co-head Daniela Karollus-Bruner is well equipped to guide clients through insurance-related litigation but the team also handles other commercial and corporate litigation work. Karollus-Bruner assisted Quantum Insurance with proceedings pertaining to a life insurance product and, together with fellow co-head Johannes Reich-Rohrwig, acted for Austrian Airlines in several proceedings including a dispute pertaining to capital increase payments.
Acting for various Austrian and international banks, DLA Piper Weiss-Tessbach stands out for its expertise in financial services sector disputes, including negative interest proceedings and those at the intersection with white-collar criminal defence and also represents clients in investigations. Claudine Vartian and David Christian Bauer are the main contacts.
At Schoenherr (Schönherr Rechtsanwälte), the team is led by Christoph Lindinger and focuses on representing clients in damage claims and general commercial litigation but also acts in product liability claims and insolvency-related matters. In corporation with its corporate practice, Andreas Natterer defended the wind-down company immigon portfolioabbau against four claims brought by various companies of the Vienna Insurance Group seeking security for unsecured bonds. Maximilian Raschhofer and Klara Kiehl were promoted to counsel in February 2018.
Wolf Theiss Rechtsanwalte GmbH & CoKG's 'highly motivated, diligent and cost-effective' team receives regular instructions from financial institutions and corporates to act in financial disputes, including those at the intersection with white-collar crime and internal investigations, alongside various commercial and corporate disputes. Team head Clemens Trauttenberg represented the National Bank Trust in a claim against an Austrian financial institution arising from various, allegedly fraudulent, transactions. Other key members include Holger Bielesz, Valerie Hohenberg and Eva Spiegel.
Baker McKenzie • Diwok Hermann Petsche Rechtsanwälte LLP & Co KG is experienced in post-M&A disputes and litigation arising from financial distress, restructuring and insolvency proceedings, while also handling various banking disputes. Team head Alexander Petsche and Filip Boras represented MBI & Partners U.K. and the affiliated JJW Hotel & Resorts in 16 proceedings before Austrian courts pertaining to a failed luxury hotel project and the sale of a premium shopping centre in Vienna.
Brandl & Talos Rechtsanwälte GmbH has carved out a strong practice acting for banking and finance sector players in proceedings pertaining to the alleged provision of negligent advice on financial products and closed-end funds, while also handling contentious matters at the intersection of corporate and capital markets law, including those involving white-collar crime allegations. The team, which is led by senior associate Christian Lenz and Ernst Brandl, has deep expertise in proceedings against consumer protection associations.
Fellner Wratzfeld & Partners acts for corporates and banks in disputes over mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, financing and capital market transactions alongside insolvency and employment-related matters and also handles class-action suits and internal investigations. Gregor Schett heads the team, which includes Markus Fellner.
Graf & Pitkowitz acts for clients across various industries, including technology, financial services, construction and the public sector and also represents private clients. In a technology sector highlight, practice head Nikolaus Pitkowitz is leading a team acting for Facebook Ireland in data protection litigation, defending the client against a class action brought by Austrian author Maximilian Schrems.
Saxinger, Chalupsky & Partners (SCWP Schindhelm) has a strong regional presence in Upper Austria and frequently acts for clients in various commercial and corporate disputes, including those at the intersection with white-collar crime and antitrust law alongside IP, employment and construction law. Hanno Liebmann is acting for Tobaccoland Handels and JTI Austria in proceedings against the Republic of Austria pertaining to the Tobacco Monopoly Act. Markus Fellner heads the team, which includes 2018 arrival Fabian Hanz; Hanz previously worked independently.
The 'very responsive' team at Vavrovsky Heine Marth Rechtsanwälte is 'young and dynamic and yet very experienced'. It is 'very market savvy' and delivers 'high-quality work in a timely manner'. 'Remarkable trial lawyer' Dieter Heine 'provides excellent advice with economic consequences in mind' and frequently acts in IP, IT and media law disputes, while the 'reliable and strategic' Philipp Strasser is 'an excellent insurance litigator, who is always on top of the facts and connects the dots quickly'. Nikolaus Vavrovsky, who focuses on real estate, construction and infrastructure-related work, is another key contact.
Brauneis Klauser Prändl Rechtsanwälte GmbH's 'reliable and efficient' team is best known for its presence in consumer protection cases, representing individuals and groups, but it also handles IP, insolvency and employment-related disputes, among others. Clients include financial institutions, manufacturers and consultancy firms. The 'highly recommended' Alexander Klauser, Bernhard Girsch and the 'innovative and analytical' Gerald Otto are the main contacts.
KWR Karasek Wietrzyk Rechtsanwälte GmbH
KWR Karasek Wietrzyk Rechtsanwälte GmbH's construction law prominence translates into a steady flow of sector-specific contentious mandates but the team also acts for clients from other industries. Practice head Thomas Frad recently represented a construction company in two court proceedings against a property developer over the termination of a contract and subsequent payment issues.
Recognised for its 'profound knowledge', PHH Rechtsanwälte represents clients in commercial, corporate and financial litigation and has been increasingly active in shareholder disputes, while also handling proceedings involving white-collar crime such as cybercrime and business espionage allegations. Stefan Prochaska, who jointly heads the team with Mathias Preuschl, has 'a brilliant track record' and acted for the founders of the real estate company Wienwert Group in a payment dispute with its board of directors.
Taylor Wessing Austria focuses on cross-border corporate and commercial litigation alongside contentious IP, unfair competition and trade mark work. In recent work, Martin Prohaska-Marchried represented A1 Telekom Austria in unfair competition proceedings. Wolfgang Kapek jointly heads the team with Dieter Natlacen.