Commercial litigation in Germany
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer
The ‘very good’ and broad dispute resolution group at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has remarkable litigation experience and, above all, a strong market reputation in class actions and class action litigation, not least due to the continued representation of Volkswagen in a large number of cross-border product-related civil actions and the representation of insurer Scottish Widows in a planned sample declaratory judgment action. Rolf Trittmann, whose ‘expertise and speed’ are appreciated by clients, is experienced in the automotive sector and is representing various car manufacturers in disputes abroad. For example, he defended, together with principal associate Martin Mekat, an automobile manufacturer in a dispute concerning the termination of a distribution and license agreement in Iran. In matters related to antitrust law, Roman Mallmann represented an international truck manufacturer against claims for damages. The group also saw some noteworthy team changes: Simone Kämpfer joined in February 2018 from Thomas, Deckers, Wehnert & Elsner strengthening the synergies between the civil law practice and the criminal law area, where her expertise lies. Daniel Schnabl made partner. Thomas Kreifels, Boris Kasolowsky and Martina de Lind van Wijngaarden are a central part of the team. Thomas Kreifels, Boris Kasolowsky and Martina de Lind van Wijngaarden are a central part of the team. Principal associate Borbála Dux joined Luther Rechtsanwaltsgesellschaft mbH in October 2018.
Clients value Gleiss Lutz’s dispute resolution practice for the team’s ‘well-coordinated cooperation in all facets, from complex technical to commercial issues’ and its ‘high level of service’. In addition to its experience in capital markets and corporate disputes, the firm also has a strong antitrust practice with which it frequently collaborates. Ulrich Denzel’s team assisted voestalpine, as chief witness, in connection with proceedings initiated by the German Federal Cartel Office regarding the stainless steel cartel. The group also works hand in hand with the compliance practice: practice head Stefan Rützel is a member of the team that advised the Volkswagen supervisory board on legal issues relating to the emissions scandal. He also acted for Daimler in defending antitrust damages claims. Andrea Leufgen is also recommended.
Clients appreciate Hengeler Mueller’s ‘excellent level of service and prompt, competent advice’; the team has experience in representing clients in post-M&A, corporate, banking, finance and capital market disputes, which increasingly extend across multiple jurisdictions. The team also has strong ties with the antitrust practice. A long-standing highlight is the representation of Porsche in several Investor Sample Procedure Act proceedings – an area where the group is particularly experienced – concerning claims for damages in connection with the emissions scandal. Philipp Hanfland, who has ‘outstanding legal expertise’, recently acted for an Asian company in claims for damages. Other clients include Vodafone Kabel Deutschland, Uber, Toll Collect and Linde. Markus Meier is ‘one of the best and best-known litigators in Germany’; Carsten van de Sande and Johanna Wirth are also recommended.
Allen & Overy LLP
Allen & Overy LLP has a strong focus on professional and directors’ liability, where it is a popular choice for management consulting and accounting firms. As part of an international firm, the group is also well positioned to handle cross-border conflicts. Litigation expert Marc Zimmerling advised a leading international insurer of a now insolvent manufacturer in connection with possible D&O liability claims and also represented a German bank in defending against actions for rescission by various shareholders. Benedikt Burger joined Bird & Bird in October 2017.
Instructions handled by Baker McKenzie’s dispute resolution practice often have a reference to antitrust and corporate law as well as a connection to Asia. The group has extensive expertise in post-M&A disputes, construction and plant disputes and in the energy sector; for example, Heiko Haller, who made equity partner, represented a Spanish bank in a dispute pertaining to the financing of a power plant project and also works for a construction company in pre-litigation negotiations relating to an energy project in South America. Jörg Risse, who is ‘a good choice for litigation’, and Ragnar Harbst acted for an IT company in a dispute concerning an IT project. The experienced Günter Pickrahn is also recommended.
While Clifford Chance’s strength in litigation has traditionally been in banking and plant construction, the firm now handles a strong caseload of antitrust litigation and D&O instructions. For example, the group defended MAN in follow-up proceedings concerning claims for damages in connection with the truck cartel. In another notable highlight, the ‘expert’ Michael Kremer representated a supervisory board in a dispute concerning the client’s involvement in the diesel emissions scandal. Volkswagen, Siemens and Kone are other clients. Uwe Hornung is ‘a very experienced litigator’, while Sebastian Rakob and counsel Jan Conrady are also recommended.
CMS’ dispute resolution team has extensive expertise in the areas of post-M&A and corporate law, but also in D&O liability and conflicts in the energy sector. The firm has a good international network and the practice has seen an increase in sanction-related proceedings, often involving Iran. Recently, Claus Thiery represented a private equity firm in a post-M&A aviation dispute. His representation of Prof. Dr. Roland Berger was recently expanded to include an additional mediation procedure. Matthias Schlingmann, an expert in the energy sector, defended an operator of solar parks in a number of parallel proceedings. Tilman Niedermaier made partner and is regarded as ‘promising’ by competitors.
Hogan Lovells International LLP has strong industry expertise and a team of experienced lawyers; several of the partners based in Germany also hold senior positions in the firm’s global litigation and arbitration management structure. Life sciences expert Tanja Eisenblätter represented the subsidiary of an international pharmaceutical company in a landmark case against a competitor. In addition, Detlef Haß and his team are still involved in the follow-up lawsuit against Air Canada concerning claims for damages arising from the alleged air freight cartel. Jürgen Johannes Witte and Olaf Gärtner are also singled out. Counsel Christian Zerr moved to Graf von Westphalen in September 2017. Ingo Kühl was made up to counsel in January 2018.
Latham & Watkins LLP’s fully integrated international approach is a strength of the team, which is always able to offer a wide range of legal representation services to suit the case at hand. The group often acts on banking, corporate and antitrust law disputes; it reached an amicable settlement in a long-standing family dispute after taking over the representation of Robert Tönnies. In addition, highly regarded practice head Christoph Baus represents an airline in a matter concerning a claim for damages under insolvency law. Christine Gärtner, who is experienced in corporate law, also has a good track record. The group was further strengthened by the arrivals of Thomas Grützner, who is experienced in litigation and compliance instructions and joined from Baker McKenzie in October 2018, and data protection expert Tim Wybitul, who was previously at Hogan Lovells International LLP. Carsten Witzke left for Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP in October 2018. Markus Rieder joined Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP in November 2019.
Linklaters has strong expertise in disputes in the energy and banking sectors and positions itself in the market with a broad team; practice head Rupert Bellinghausen has experience in D&O insurance issues and directors’ and officers’ liability as well as in antitrust matters, while Alexandros Chatzinerantzis is experienced in energy and insolvency disputes. The latter represented energy producer Uniper in proceedings against the alleged unjustified termination of a supply contract in which the Essen Regional Court ruled in favour of the client. Kirstin Schwedt and Christian Schmitt are also recommended.
Noerr’s team has ‘strong expertise’ in national and international litigation and the practice, which handles a wide range of work, is frequently instructed in insurance, banking and capital markets disputes. Oliver Sieg and his team, which is ‘strong in insurance disputes’, successfully represented, among others, the former CEO of Olympus Michael Woodford and his colleague Paul Hillmann in coverage litigation before the English High Court in connection with a German D&O insurance policy. The group is also involved in numerous proceedings for Deutsche Bank. Stefan Blum defended a company against a claim for damages. Michael Molitoris and Christine Volohonsky are other names to note and the firm’s newly opened office in Hamburg was strengthened by the addition of former White & Case LLP litigator Matthias Stupp; in addition, the group made up a number of new partners at the beginning of 2018.
Clients value White & Case LLP’s ‘fast and flexible processing times’ and ‘absolute reliability’; the group has strong expertise in insolvency, energy and automotive litigation, often in cases that require interdisciplinary cooperation and good international networking. Thomas Burmeister acted for a group of network operators in proceedings against the German Federal Network Agency regarding interest rate fixing by the regulatory authority, and Markus Burianski represented a company from the automotive industry in a number of disputes. In another highlight, Christian Wirth, who is esteemed for his ‘solution-oriented approach’, defended a network service provider in court proceedings. Matthias Stupp left for Noerr in May 2017. Alexandra Diehl joined from Clifford Chance as local partner in February 2018.
DLA Piper frequently represents clients in insolvency and D&O disputes. Thomas Gädtke, who focuses on the aforementioned areas, successfully acted for two former board members of an insolvent company in litigation concerning alleged board liability. He also represented a former board member of a market research institute in a board liability case regarding an alleged breach of organisational duties. Practice head Ludger Giesberts and Frank Roth are also noted. Sebastian Schneider was made up to counsel. Former counsel Jan Bunnemann left the firm to found Fey Hill Bunnemann, which focuses on energy and insolvency law.
Wach + Meckes LLP
Wach + Meckes LLP has a reputation as ‘a top litigation boutique’ and is regularly recommended by major law firms in conflicts of interest; it specialises in various forms of dispute resolution, including arbitration and mediation. The team also has particular expertise in commercial and corporate litigation. Frank Meckes is an experienced litigator; he is representing a former member of a group in D&O liability and coverage litigation. Together with the ‘very experienced’ Karl Wach, Meckes also defended a group of companies in an M&A dispute. Of counsel Henning Krauss, who joined the firm from Bub Gauweiler & Partner, is representing an investor in the assertion of claims for damages. Corporate lawyer Robert Straubmeier joined in August 2018 from now-defunct law firm Nachmann. Tom Petsch is also recommended.
Heuking Kühn Lüer Wojtek is ‘responsive, competent and very professional’ in dispute resolution, frequently handling matters that concern energy and capital markets law, while also active in mass proceedings. Clients can rely on a large team that operates from a number of offices. In recent work, the practice successfully defended the descendants of Aldi’s heir Berthold Albrecht in appeal proceedings. The highly regarded Daniel Froesch represented stock corporation AllfinA & Cie. against an action for damages with an amount in dispute in the double-digit millions. The ‘very reliable’ Sebastian Jungemeyer claimed a profit participation for a pharmaceutical company against business partners. Elke Umbeck is another key figure in the team. The group is growing and has seen several partner appointments. Additions include Vera Randel from the now dissolved Cologne-based transaction boutique Corso, Michael Pauli from avocado rechtsanwälte and Stephan Nikschick from FPS.
Kantenwein Zimmermann Spatscheck & Partner’s dispute resolution team is well positioned for conflicts that arise in the energy and banking sectors. Recent highlights include representing the founder of a company in the telecoms sector in a shareholder dispute, valued at €500m. In another matter, it defended an international group in a dispute concerning liability for tax misrepresentation. The experienced Alexander Kröck is also active in matters touching upon antitrust law. Annett Kuhli and Marcus van Bevern are other key names. Clients also benefit from the fact that some of the firm’s lawyers are also qualified as tax advisers and auditors.
Norton Rose Fulbright’s dispute resolution team is valued by clients for providing ‘outstanding legal advice with a sense and understanding of legal issues’. With an extensive international network, the team can handle national and cross-border disputes in a wide range of practice areas, including insurance, banking and intellectual property. Practice head Jamie Nowak is ‘an exceptional talent in the market’; he focuses on industries including technology and transport. Sven Förster is also noted.
SZA Schilling, Zutt & Anschütz Rechtsanwalte AG covers the entire spectrum of dispute prevention and arbitration, including the preparation of court disputes and litigation. The group has expertise in disputes with a general reference to commercial law, including in connection with M&A and, among other things, disputes over defects in the area of corporate law. The group also acts on matters relating to the Diesel scandal: it advises Volkswagen on claims for damages by investors. In addition, the group also has strong expertise in the area of D&O liability disputes, underlined by its activities in a recent series of instructions. Bayern LB and Deutsche Bank are among its long-standing clients. Practice head Jochem Reichert and Thomas Liebscher are key members of the team. Stephan Harbarth is now vice president of the Federal Constitutional Court.
Taylor Wessing’s dispute resolution practice is particularly experienced in commercial and distribution litigation as well as corporate litigation. In cases spanning several jurisdictions, the group benefits from the firm’s international presence as well as good interdisciplinary cooperation. Tim Wünnemann and Volker Herrmann, who was a new arrival from Squire Patton Boggs in May 2017, advised Hanon Systems on a dispute regarding suppliers in distress to secure supply chains in the automotive industry. In other work, Carsten Müller represented another client from the sector in a separate claims, and practice head Philipp Behrendt is defending, together with Donata von Enzberg, an energy company in various conflicts. Martin Knaup made salary partner.
WilmerHale’s dispute resolution practice’s case portfolio often touches upon civil law and regulatory issues. The strongly interdisciplinary team focuses on banking and capital markets, liability issues in product liability and warranty cases, corporate disputes and intellectual property. Co-head Hans-Georg Kamann defended, together with Vanessa Wettner, a manufacturer of medical technology against alleged claims for damages. Both also represented the Federal Government in summary proceedings initiated by Germania Fluggesellschaft at the Berlin Regional Court in connection with the €150m bridge loan granted by the client to insolvent airline Air Berlin. Highly regarded co-head Stefan Ohlhoff acts for the Federal Association of German Public Banks with regard to claims for damages arising from the fees for EC card payments. Ulrich Quack is another name to note.
At Bird & Bird, the dispute resolution team covers litigation, product liability and arbitration, with an increasing industry focus on the automotive and energy sectors, frequently on the defendant side. Practice head Jiri Jäger, who is experienced in the enforcement of claims for damages and guarantees, is representing Abellio in pursuing claims concerning the faulty construction of a workshop hall. Benedikt Burger, who is experienced in settling disputes, joined from Allen & Overy LLP in October 2017; he acted for Espa Germany in connection with the enforcement of payment and compensation claims against former co-partners and managing directors. Christian Kessel is ‘a generally preferred choice in automotive litigation’. Other changes at a personnel level include another the arrival of counsel Philipp Egler in November 2017 from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, and promotion to counsel of Michael Zavodsky and Lea Noemi Mackert.
Clients appreciate the ‘great pragmatism and business acumen’ of Eversheds Sutherland’s dispute resolution practice. The group often handles litigious corporate and antitrust cases, and is experienced in D&O liability cases and banking disputes. Joos Hellert represented Philip Morris, among others, in disputes with distribution partners arising from the introduction of IQOS. The client portfolio also includes Turkish Airlines, Burger King and Securitas. The group has expanded recently and was strengthened by the addition of insurance expert Ralf-Thomas Wittmann from Grooterhorst Rechtsanwälte and a number of associates joining from leading law firms.
Firmly integrated into the global partnership, Jones Day’s German practice covers the full range of commercial and contractual disputes, and is experienced in arbitration and product liability cases. The group also provides preventive advice and represents clients in conflicts in the fields of energy, planning, construction and infrastructure projects. Highly regarded practice head Dieter Strubenhoff, together with antitrust lawyer Jürgen Beninca (a new addition from Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP in July 2017), defended a group of companies in a dispute concerning the prosecution of antitrust claims for damages. In addition, Strubenhoff was involved in several arbitration proceedings. Johannes Willheim represented an energy company in negotiations with a competitor regarding mutual claims. Anna Masser, who made partner in January 2019, is also singled out.
Luther Rechtsanwaltsgesellschaft mbH
Luther Rechtsanwaltsgesellschaft mbH is experienced in acting for companies from the energy and plant construction sectors; the dispute resolution team, which is also known for its arbitration and product liability expertise, often works in a cross-practice manner. In high-profile work, it is representing Volkswagen in mass proceedings in the context of the diesel scandal. Stephan Bausch and Anne Caroline Wegner are noted. Sabine Kröger made partner and Borbála Dux joined the team from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer in October 2018.
SKW Schwarz Rechtsanwälte
Clients value SKW Schwarz Rechtsanwälte’s ‘good processing times’ and ‘the expertise and competence of its lawyers’, who are particularly active in the area of commercial and distribution law disputes in both national and international cases. Practice head Arndt Tetzlaff, who is recognised for his ‘controlled litigation’, represented, among others, a manufacturer of steam pressure treatment equipment for vehicles in an international trade dispute. Ikea and Schufa Holding are also longstanding clients. Oliver Korte and Christoph Meyer are other key names; Sabine Kröger made partner.
Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP has experience in representing international companies, investment funds and banks, but also increasingly handles IP and IT disputes. The practice group also focuses on tactical and strategic conflict prevention planning. It is led by Britta Grauke, who is also experienced in German and international procedural law. She successfully defended a bank against claims at several instances.