Chambers Europe Awards for Excellence 2014
The Chambers Europe Awards 2014 took place at London's Grosvenor House Hotel on April 24th 2014, and was co-hosted by Alastair Sutton of Brick Court Chambers and Chambers Europe editor Georgia Brooks.
The evening saw 24 individual country awards, including a new country award for Luxembourg and national and international awards for Hungary and Turkey. There were also regional awards for Offshore, the Baltic region, Central & Eastern Europe, and a final award for European Law Firm of the Year. In addition, there were eight ad hoc client service awards presented to those law firms that had received exceptional client feedback during research for the guide.
The country awards recognise a law firm's pre-eminence in key practice areas in their jurisdiction. They take into account strategic growth, market feedback and involvement in market-leading deals. The nominees were drawn together by the Chambers Europe team, based on research carried out for the Chambers Europe 2014 guide.
We also gave two 'Outstanding Contribution to the Legal Profession' awards to individual lawyers. These were presented to one leading lawyer in private practice and one in-house lawyer. The recipients were Jean-Francois Bellis of Van Bael & Bellis and Sandie Okoro, General Counsel of HSBC Global Asset Management.
*For a list of the shortlisted firms for each category, click here
European Law Firm of the Year 2014: White & Case LLP
The European Law Firm of the Year award goes to one of the leading firms in Europe. White & Case has impressed us with its tremendous growth and development during the past year. It enjoys an excellent reputation in both Eastern and Western Europe, and clients praise its exceptional service. Here is what one client said about the winning group:
“I perceive the team to be by far the best in the market. I am constantly impressed by its ability to deliver consistently stellar work. The lawyers are responsive, can provide good insights and elaborate answers, and the teams work seamlessly across offices. In my view, this firm stands head and shoulders above its competitors.”
'Outstanding Contribution to the Legal Profession' Awards
Jean-Francois Bellis, Van Bael & Bellis
Jean-François Bellis is one of the most renowned practitioners in European Competition and Trade law. His career began in Brussels in 1975, and a few years later he served as Legal Secretary to Lord Mackenzie Stuart at the Court of Justice of the European Union. In 1986, he co-founded Van Bael & Bellis with his mentor and friend, Ivo Van Bael.
Bellis is currently best known for his work in cartel and abuse of dominance proceedings, acting in recent years as lead counsel for Microsoft in its appeal before the General Court against the fine imposed by the Commission in 2008.
Bellis is widely acknowledged as a leading figure by peers, who are quick to highlight the overall impact of his work on the general development of the market. He continues to contribute to the legal profession through his academic work as a professor of EU competition law at the University of Brussels, as well as publishing numerous academic and practical treatises, including “Van Bael & Bellis - Competition Law of the European Community”.
Sandie Okoro, HSBC Global Asset Management Limited
Sandie Okoro is General Counsel of HSBC Global Asset Management and Deputy General Counsel of HSBC Retail Banking and Wealth Management. Her unique legal career began when she first qualified as a barrister and then re-qualified and trained as a solicitor. She has also been an in-house lawyer at Barings and Schroders.
Alongside her role of General Counsel, she is a member of the Executive Management Committee of HSBC Asset Management where she has responsibility for managing HSBC’s Asset Management’s legal risk and legal teams across 24 countries. Okoro is also on the Management Board and the Panel of Experts of The Hague-based Panel of Recognised International Market Experts in Finance (P.R.I.M.E Finance). She was recently appointed a council member of the human rights organisation, JUSTICE.
In January of this year, Okoro took up the role of President of International Lawyers of Africa (ILFA). She is also a Trustee of the Powerlist Foundation and the Ambassador for the Law Society’s Diversity Access Scheme.
Austria Law Firm of the Year: BINDER GROSSWANG Rechtsanwälte GmbH
This prominent firm maintains a leading position in the banking arena. A recent highlight saw it advise the Austrian co-operative banking sector on forming a group complying with Article 3 of the new Capital Requirements Directive. The firm has also gained credit in recent years for its corporate and competition work. In addition, it is becoming increasingly well known for its representation of both private and public sector clients in tax and dispute resolution mandates.
Belgium Law Firm of the Year: Stibbe
Stibbe is highly recommended across a diverse range of practice areas, including competition, real estate, environment and public law, in addition to corporate. It is becoming increasingly popular with energy and IT clients, and continues to cement its market share in these sectors. Recent highlights include advising national grid operator Elia on the development and extension of the Belgian offshore grid, including construction contracts and public tendering.
Czech Republic Law Firm of the Year – National: PRK Partners
This well-known group continues to impress clients with its work in the employment and banking sectors. It can also assist clients internationally through its offices in Hungary and Slovakia. Further key departments include real estate, TMT and corporate, and significant clients include RBS and Patria Finance.
Czech Republic Law Firm of the Year – International: White & Case LLP
White & Case is a popular choice for both domestic and multi-jurisdictional mandates, thanks to its impressive English law capabilities within the Prague office. It boasts strength and depth in the core sectors of banking and finance, capital markets and corporate, capably supported by its expertise in restructuring, private equity and tax matters. The firm recently assisted RWE with its EUR1.6 billion sale of NET4GAS.
Denmark Law Firm of the Year: Gorrissen Federspiel
This excellent independent firm maintains strength in all practice areas, most notably in banking, capital markets, shipping and restructuring. In a prominent highlight, the firm acted for ISS and its selling shareholders on its IPO and listing on NASDAQ OMX Copenhagen, which was one of the largest recent IPOs in Denmark in recent years. Its TMT team has developed its position in the market of late and has been involved in a number of high-profile mandates. The firm is also active in the financial, insurance, pharmaceutical and energy sectors.
Finland Law Firm of the Year: Castrén & Snellman
Castrén & Snellman maintains a market-leading presence across a huge variety of practice areas and houses an especially respected corporate/M&A team. Of late, the firm assisted Suomen Luotto-osuuskunta with its sale of Luottokunta for EUR170 million. Further impressive clients include 3i, Finnair and Sponda. The firm also has a presence in St. Petersburg, enabling it to handle substantial cross-border mandates. Clients are keen to single out the firm's dedicated and hard-working approach.
France Law Firm of the Year: Gide Loyrette Nouel AARPI
This renowned French firm boasts an impressive number of top-tier rankings across a wide range of practice areas including banking and finance, capital markets, IP and real estate. It also has a flourishing venture capital practice. The firm's clientele includes Eiffage, Casino and Monoprix. A key recent mandate saw the firm advise Crédit Agricole on the administrative management by BNP Paribas of EUR12.5 billion in equity derivatives.
Germany Law Firm of the Year: Hengeler Mueller
Hengeler Mueller's reputation for corporate and transactional work is almost unparalleled in the German market. Clients single the team out for its ability to tackle the most technically challenging transactions, and genuine dedication to client service. It is universally acknowledged as a market leader in banking and finance, competition, dispute resolution, and capital markets as well as corporate/M&A. One notable highlight mandate saw the firm advise Weichai Power on its acquisition of a 25% stake in KION Group and a 70% stake in KION's hydraulics business.
Greece Law Firm of the Year: POTAMITISVEKRIS
This formidable Greek group wins praise for its high-quality work on behalf of both domestic and international clients. It is visible in high-value M&A transactions, privatisations and dispute resolution, including employment litigation, and is especially well known for its advice to leading financial institutions. The team advised key client Piraeus Bank on two significant acquisitions recently: Millenium Bank and Geniki Bank. Clients in the retail, energy, pharmaceutical and media industries also frequently engage the firm.
Hungary Law Firm of the Year - National: Oppenheim
This office is celebrated for its outstanding competition and dispute resolution work. The litigation team recently represented Agrikon in a EUR13.3 million dispute with a domestic bank. The firm's employment team has developed its market standing of late, whilst the firm also includes market-leading individuals for projects and corporate work.
Hungary Law Firm of the Year – International: CMS Cameron McKenna
This impressive local office offers top-level services in a range of practice areas, and is particularly strong in banking, TMT, employment, projects & energy, and real estate mandates. The corporate department recently acted for A&N Media on the company's strategic exit from its CEE portfolio. The firms' clients include a variety of well-known international companies, including MetLife, GE and Sun Capital.
Ireland Law Firm of the Year: Mason Hayes & Curran
An excellent Irish firm recognised in multiple practice areas, including employment, intellectual property, construction and dispute resolution, including insurance conflicts. It enjoys a glowing track record in TMT mandates, with an impressive list of high-profile clients including Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. The dispute resolution team has also acted for a number of significant clients including the Central Bank of Ireland and Defender Limited.
Italy Law Firm of the Year: Bonelli Erede Pappalardo
This Italian powerhouse delivers an impressive breadth of services with top-tier practices for corporate, dispute resolution, real estate, restructuring & insolvency, and private equity. It also has a thriving cross-departmental energy group and a flourishing practice in project finance. The firm recently advised Morgan Stanley on the acquisition of a portfolio from Gallerie Commerciali Italia (GCI), comprising 13 shopping centres and two retail parks.
Luxembourg Law Firm of the Year: Arendt & Medernach
An outstanding Luxembourg firm, Arendt & Medernach has a tremendous reputation across the full range of corporate and finance work, as well as dispute resolution and employment. It particularly stands out for its investment funds capabilities, receiving praise for its advice on both UCITS and alternative funds. It is well equipped to handle cross-border mandates thanks to its network of offices across Europe, and branches in the UAE, USA and UK.
Netherlands Law Firm of the Year: Allen & Overy LLP
This tremendous firm offers top-notch services in its core competences of finance, corporate/M&A and capital markets. It is also highly recommended for dispute resolution, employment and private equity. It enjoys a dedicated following among international and domestic clients, who highlight the firm’s ability to provide comprehensive coverage of all key commercial legal areas. One recent highlight for the team was assisting ABN AMRO with the partial sale of its corporate insurance activities to AON.
Norway Law Firm of the Year: Advokatfirmaet BA-HR
A formidable dispute resolution force with a hugely impressive recent track record in employment, tax and intellectual property conflicts. In 2013 the team represented Norsk Tillitsmann in proceedings before the Supreme Court relating to the restructuring of Thule Drilling's bond loan defaults. The office is noted for the breadth of its expertise, and other excellent departments include the competition, banking and capital markets practices.
Poland Law Firm of the Year - National: Wardyński & Partners
This excellent firm has long been a frontrunner in intellectual property and dispute resolution matters, recently representing Danish-Polish Telecommunications Group in the settlement of its long-running dispute with Telekomunikacja. Further practice areas of note include environment, life sciences, energy and TMT. It maintains offices in Warsaw, Poznan, Krakow and Wroclaw, and utilises its Brussels office for European law mandates.
Poland Law Firm of the Year - International: Dentons
This tremendous firm maintains strength and depth in a wide array of practice areas and is particularly prominent in competition and energy mandates. The real estate team also draws praise, and the public procurement team has enjoyed a successful year, having been instructed on several high-profile matters. Highlights include advising Stadler Polska and NEWAG on a successful bid for a EUR390 million contract for the delivery of rolling stock and maintenance services to PKP Intercity.
Portugal Law Firm of the Year: PLMJ
This fantastic firm serves a strong range of domestic and international clients, including IKEA, Barclays Bank and the National Association of Portuguese Pharmacies. It is strong in a variety of areas, and gains particular praise for its corporate and intellectual property work. The restructuring and energy and natural resources teams have also bolstered their market standings of late, with the firm recently advising GB Minerals on the concession of mining rights in Guinea-Bissau.
Romania Law Firm of the Year: Ţuca Zbârcea & Asociaţii
This outstanding firm is recognised in multiple key areas, including corporate, real estate, TMT and competition. It also comes recommended for restructuring, tax and dispute resolution matters. The firm is noted for its work in the healthcare, retail and transport sectors, and key clients include OMV Petrom, CEZ and Carrefour. One recent highlight was advising Electronic Arts on a real estate mandate lease agreement valued at EUR14 million.
Russia Law Firm of the Year - National: Egorov Puginsky Afanasiev & Partners
This firm is highly renowned for its track record in litigation and, in particular, earns plaudits for its skilful handling of contentious employment cases. In a recent highlight, the firm was successful in representing the Bolshoi Theatre in the highly publicised case brought by former lead ballet dancer Nikolay Tsiskaridze. Non-contentious employment mandates are another strength and the firm is further recognised for its TMT sector experience. With offices in Moscow and St Petersburg, it offers broad coverage of the country, as well as maintaining a presence in Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Belarus.
Russia Law Firm of the Year – International: Dentons
A burgeoning firm in the Russian market, Dentons fields offices in Moscow and St. Petersburg as well as working with a network of trusted local firms throughout the country. It has noted expertise across a range of practices and is especially noted for acting for biotech, medical devices and pharmaceutical companies. Work for Google, Pfizer and Colgate-Palmolive means that it comfortably holds on to its leading role in the employment and IP markets.
Spain Law Firm of the Year: Cuatrecasas, Gonçalves Pereira
This highly regarded firm offers strength across the full range of sectors and is a leader in both the national and Catalan market. It boasts several offices across Spain, as well as a network that covers a diverse range of jurisdictions, including Morocco, Mozambique and China. In a recent highlight the firm advised FC Barcelona's board of directors on liability claims against ex-directors for negative financial results.
Sweden Law Firm of the Year: Advokatfirman Vinge KB
This firm offers long-standing excellence in a variety of practice areas. It has recently developed its capabilities in the private equity and dispute resolution arenas, whilst its intellectual property practice has been bolstered by several high-profile additions to the team. It is a leader on financing and corporate matters and recently assisted Baxter International with its EUR3.05 billion acquisition of Gambro.
Switzerland Law Firm of the Year: Schellenberg Wittmer Ltd
A highly recommended firm with excellent geographical coverage of the Swiss market, Schellenberg Wittmer has long been a top choice for all forms of dispute resolution work, with outstanding capabilities in both arbitration and litigation. In recent months it has succeeded in increasing visibility in corporate/M&A and employment, where it receives excellent feedback from clients. Highlight mandates include advising The Carlyle Group on its acquisition of a 50% stake in the Swiss-based Varo Energy Group.
Turkey Law Firm of the Year - National: Esin Attorney Partnership
This firm fields a formidable corporate team that has long enjoyed a prominent position on the market. It regularly acts on significant transactions, such as advising Aquila Capital Structured Assets on the purchase of 40% of Ídeal Enerji Üretim Sanayi ve Ticaret. Its competition department also gathers praise, as does the firm’s work in the energy, retail, healthcare and insurances arenas. Key clients include Ziylan Group and TAISAI.
Turkey Law Firm of the Year - International: White & Case LLP
This US giant is the longest standing international firm in the Turkish market and is appreciated by clients for its pro-investor approach and experience. It offers an outstanding corporate department that recently represented the shareholders of Mustafa Nevzat Pharmaceuticals in the auction of shares in the company to Amgen for USD700 million. The firm's banking and finance team also receives strong praise.
UK Law Firm of the Year: Linklaters
Linklaters continues to enjoy a superb reputation and a formidable deal flow. It offers a range of standout teams, particularly in capital markets, restructuring and corporate/M&A. Other areas of strength include energy, projects and tax. Recent highlights include acting for Schneider Electric on all aspects of its cash and share bid for Invensys as well as representing Vodafone in its voluntary public tender offer for 100% of the share capital of KDH. Glencore, BP and Lloyds Banking Group are just some of its blue-chip clients.
Ukraine Law Firm of the Year: Vasil Kisil & Partners
This firm is rapidly growing in prominence in the Ukraine market. Its banking and finance team has risen to prominence as a result of advising on market-leading deals for big clients such as Credit Agricole, BNP Paribas and UniCredit. It also bolstered its position in intellectual property, and remains a long-standing frontrunner in litigation, employment and real estate.
Baltic-wide Law Firm of the Year: Sorainen
This firm is an exceptionally strong regional player with excellent offices in all three Baltic countries. The firm has developed several of its teams recently, including the Lithuanian tax team and the Estonian corporate and commercial departments. It additionally offers a noteworthy banking practice across the region. The three offices recently acted together for the Baltic Property Trust on its complex corporate restructuring.
Offshore Law Firm of the Year: Bedell Cristin
Bedell Cristin occupies a leading position in the Jersey market, with extremely well-regarded teams in corporate and finance, dispute resolution and trusts. It is well placed to advise on cross-border transactions with offices in the UK, Singapore, Mauritius and the British Virgin Islands. Its hugely impressive client roster includes names such as Deutsche Bank, Mattel and Bank of America. In a recent highlight the firm assisted the Government Investment Corporation of Singapore with the purchase of a 50% interest in the Broadgate Estate from Blackstone Real Estate funds.
Central & Eastern Europe-wide Law Firm of the Year: Clifford Chance LLP
This firm demonstrates tremendous depth and expertise across the CEE region, with standout banking and finance, corporate/M&A and projects and energy work. The firm can handle the most complex cross-border transactions, thanks to offices in Poland, Romania, Ukraine and the Czech Republic. A recent highlight was assisting Shell International with its acquisition of a Polish petrol station business, valued at USD100 million.
Client Service Awards
Client Service awards go to firms who have been consistently singled out by clients during the course of our research for the quality and range of their client service. We do not give out client service awards every year in every country, but believe that this year the following awards are thoroughly deserved:
This firm remains a highly impressive figure in M&A, banking and finance, and capital markets. It boasts additional expertise in competition, dispute resolution and intellectual property. This year the firm bolstered its already impressive regional capabilities with the full integration of Turkish firm Türkoglu & Celepci into its network. Further development was demonstrated by a host of impressive new domestic and international clients. Highlights include advising Heineken on its Austrian subsidiary’s sale of fruit juice unit Pago International to Eckes-Granini Group.
France: Clifford Chance LLP
This international powerhouse maintains its strong foothold in the French market, with growing prominence in the areas of structured finance and energy and natural resources. Clifford Chance's Paris office boasts market-leading teams in public law and international projects, as well as banking and finance. A recent highlight saw the team advise Dongfeng Motor Group on its proposed equity investment in PSA Peugeot Citroën Group.
Ireland: Arthur Cox
This stellar firm remains a well-known name for projects for the State. It also has several impressive private sector clients on its books, including Blackstone and Anacap Financial Partners. The team recently assisted Mallinckrodt with its USD1.4 billion acquisition of Cadence Pharmaceuticals. The Dublin office offers exceptional advice in a variety of sectors, including employment, banking, tax and TMT, and is supported by UK and US-based teams.
Italy: DLA Piper LLP
Clients enthuse over DLA Piper, naming it a standout international firm in Italy and highlighting the group's impressive client service. The firm maintains its strength across the board, with leading market positions for IT, media and real estate, as well as making inroads in tax and energy law, recently advising Italian energy company ERG on several transactions.
Norway: Arntzen de Besche AS
Clients laud this firm's solution-oriented approach and first-class service. It is best known for its superb oil & gas expertise, recently advising RWE on its EUR5.1 billion sale of RWE Dea, the company's oil & gas division, to LetterOne Group. Its strong real estate team wins plaudits this year, while tax, employment and banking are additional areas of expertise. The firm is active in the energy, food & beverage, construction and transport sectors.
Russia: Goltsblat BLP
This firm has gone from strength to strength since its formation in 2009 and it continued to expand in 2013 with the arrival of several new partners. Clients are impressed with the firm's ability to effectively blend domestic expertise with international nous, further highlighting the firm's willingness and ability to accommodate Western business needs while still offering deep insight into Russian legal structures. This is showcased by the firm's recent mandate for Akkuyu NPP, where it is advising the company on a nuclear power plant project in Turkey.
Spain: Gómez-Acebo & Pombo
A solid firm with a highly developed domestic presence, Gómez-Acebo & Pombo attracts praise for its dedicated client service and business-oriented advice. Its intellectual property and public law teams have led the market for many years, whilst its environmental law, corporate compliance and wealth management departments all fortified their market positions over the last twelve months. Of late, the firm advised American investment firm Avenue Capital Group in relation to Toro Finance, a joint venture in Spain with JZ Capital Partners (JZCP).
UK: Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP
Skadden continues to enhance its excellent reputation, recently advising on a range of impressive mandates. Dispute resolution is a particular area of strength, with the firm fielding top-notch litigation and arbitration teams. It is currently assisting Gennady Bogoliubov with a claim brought by Viktor Pinchuk alleging breach of contract and breach of trust. The firm is also an excellent choice for corporate, capital markets and banking and finance mandates. Notable highlights include acting for Outokumpu on its divestment of Acciai Speciali Terbni and VDM to ThyssenKrupp.