Swiss law firm Chabrier & Partners (Geneva) and UK and international law firm Richards Butler have signed an agreement to form an association, effective immediately. The purpose of this arrangement is to broaden each firm’s expertise, in order to better service the needs of their Swiss and international clients.

Both firms have strengths in trade and energy, trade finance, shipping and commercial arbitration. Richards Butler, whose partners have voted overwhelmingly in favour of merging with US law firm Reed Smith, states that it is already ranked as one of the leading law firms in commodities by the major legal directories and both firms hope to benefit in other strategic areas including finance, shipping and international arbitration. Reed Smith also has a widely acknowledged US trade practice, which will provide a neat complement to the overall global practice, the firm adds.

Switzerland and, in particular, Geneva is a major business centre for commodity and energy trading and trade finance and a number of Richards Butler’s premier clients have significant trading presences in Switzerland. The association is not only seen as a way of supporting those clients but also as an important step for Richards Butler’s continued growth in these sectors. With Richards Butler lawyers working from the Geneva office on a rota basis, they will provide a seamless service to clients based in Switzerland with a need for UK legal services.

The Richards Butler International Trade and Commodities group has had extensive experience working with clients with a Swiss presence. This includes international commercial arbitrations for Swiss-based energy clients, trade finance transactions with Swiss banks and for Swiss corporates, and the enforcement of arbitral awards and commercial court judgments against Swiss-located assets. They have also had experience of enforcing worldwide freezing orders against Swiss companies, or companies with assets located in Switzerland.

Richards Butler’s relationship with Patrick Chabrier, head of Chabrier & Partners, can be traced back over 20 years, when they worked together during his time acting as counsel for Continental Grain before establishing Chabrier & Partners in 2001.

Since then, there has been a continual flow of referral work between the two firms, most notably in the areas of international trade and energy, for which both firms are highly regarded as market leaders.

Their mutual expertise in this area and impressive client base, as well as Richards Butler’s need for a physical presence in the increasingly important Swiss market, have been the main drivers behind the formation of closer ties between the two firms.

Head of Richards Butler’s International Trade and Commodities Group, Kyri Evagora says, “We are delighted to be taking this important step with Chabrier & Partners. Switzerland is an important geographical area for our firm. Above all, the association and our increased presence in Geneva underlines our firm’s commitment to meeting the needs of our clients who have trading operations in Geneva.”

Patrick Chabrier, head of Chabrier & Partners adds: “This exciting association with Richards Butler will enable our two firms to best service the growing needs of our respective trade and energy clients in Switzerland.”