In March 2023, the Swiss Government and authorities facilitated a merger between Credit Suisse and UBS, which entailed a complete write-down of Credit Suisse Additional Tier-1 bonds (CS AT1 Bonds). 

We are one of the first international law firms to represent bondholders in Asia since the collapse of Credit Suisse. In particular, we are acting for over 100 Singapore based bondholders with claims of close to SGD200 million, leading the reportedly largest contingent of bondholders affected in Singapore. We recently conducted a townhall for affected bondholders in Hong Kong in May 2024 and have clients approaching us constituting aggregate claims reaching USD 100 million.  

We represent a large number of bondholders and have taken significant steps to commence international arbitration on behalf of bondholders in Asia and the Middle East, with focus on Hong Kong, China, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Qatar and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, to claim compensation for the losses incurred as a result of the March 2023 merger of Credit Suisse and UBS.

Our group action has been widely reported on in the international media, including by Nikkei Asia, City AM in London and the Straits Times in Singapore.

We consider it paramount to bring the dispute resolution process to a neutral and international platform, out of the Switzerland legal system. Bondholders have rights to claim compensation against Switzerland under international investment treaties via international arbitration. 

The collective investor treaty arbitration action to be pursued by Withers is exclusively in relation to the international investment treaty remedies against the Swiss Confederation. Withers is not considering any remedies available under Swiss law. There is no contemplated action against UBS or Credit Suisse. Bondholders do not need to be involved in the Swiss law proceedings in the Swiss courts to be part of the international arbitration proceedings that Withers is pursuing. 

An investment treaty is an internationally recognized document that gives private investors and companies the right to claim compensation when the government of a foreign country harms any investment they made in that country.

Switzerland has international obligations to protect foreign investments, which include obligations to accord fair and equitable treatment to investments and returns of investors from relevant jurisdictions, as well as not to expropriate investments except lawfully, on a non-discriminatory basis, for a public purpose and with proper and adequate compensation. We consider that Switzerland has breached these obligations when ordering the write-down of AT1 bonds and facilitating the merger between Credit Suisse and UBS. In particular, Switzerland perverted the well-established loss absorption hierarchy when taking emergency actions over the weekend of 18-19 March 2023. In addition, the legal criteria for exercising any contractual powers to write down has not been fulfilled at the material time. Bondholders would be entitled to fair compensation for the losses suffered by Switzerland’s breaches of its international obligations.

The relevant jurisdictions are Mainland China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, Republic of Korea, Kuwait, Oman, Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia or United Arab Emirates.

If you are a person, you would likely have to have citizenship or the right of residency in one of the relevant jurisdictions. In some situations, domicile factors connecting you to a relevant jurisdiction could qualify you as a qualifying investor. 

If you are an entity, you would likely need to be incorporated in one of the relevant jurisdictions. In some situations, it would suffice if you are controlled by shareholders or owners with citizenship, residency or domicile in a relevant jurisdiction, or if there are substantial operations or activity in a relevant jurisdiction. 

A bondholder could have access to investment treaties of a relevant jurisdiction in certain circumstances such as where bondholders can be characterised as having the right of permanent residence of a different country or where bonds are held through offshore entities. We would have to assess your qualifying investor status depending on the particular provisions of a treaty from a relevant jurisdiction. 

A qualifying bondholder must have acquired the CS AT1 Bonds prior to 19 March 2023 and still hold those bonds as at 19 March 2023.

Bondholders are welcome to register their interest in the collective investor treaty arbitration action via the registration link on this page.

Withers is working closely with an established global third party disputes funder that will provide funding to bondholders to cover the legal fees and disbursements including arbitration costs and potential security for costs associated with any collective action against Switzerland. The funding to be provided is subject to the number of bondholders who sign-up to join the collective action and the related estimated value of the losses of the bondholders.

The benefit for bondholders is that the funder is looking to offer a funding arrangement so that bondholders will not be out of pocket in the collective action in accordance with the terms of a funding agreement between the funder and the bondholders. This means:

  • If the claim is unsuccessful, bondholders pay nothing.
  • If the claim is successful, the third party disputes funder will be entitled to a portion of the compensation that Switzerland is ordered to pay by the arbitral tribunal.

Many bondholders have already registered their interest in the claim. Due to popular demand, we have extended the registration process deadline to 31 July 2024. Interested bondholders who have not yet registered should consider signing up before that date.

Our team most recently successfully acted for a Chinese company on an international arbitration relating to the Claimant company's unlawful eviction from a free trade zone in Nigeria. The case concluded in a favourable damages award and interest and costs of approximately USD 70 million, which Withers is enforcing globally. For more details on this recent success, see here.

Our team of specialist investment arbitration lawyers advise both investors and sovereign states as counsel and advocates. The businesses we work with make investments around the world. They often call on us to ensure these are adequately protected from commercial and political risk in the context and framework of international investment law. The predominant focus of our investment treaty practice is representing our clients on investment arbitrations, particularly under ICSID and UNCITRAL arbitration rules. As investment treaty arbitration lawyers, we deliver a standout service, advising governments on drafting investment treaties.

Our established investment treaty arbitration practice is grounded in the extensive expertise and strong track record of our dedicated team. We have advised on some of the highest-profile and most complex investment treaty arbitration matters and are highly regarded in the field. Our practice spans investment disputes around the globe. The framework that allows international investors to have recourse to binding arbitration in a neutral forum for disputes with host states remains a central feature of the investment treaty architecture. Cases our investment arbitration lawyers have worked on include:

  • Successfully representing a Chinese investor in a PCA-administered investment treaty claim valued at over $1 billion against an African state under the UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules.
  • Representing the Government of Ukraine in a PCA-administered arbitration regarding the gaming sector.
  • Representing a European company in the metals sector in an ICSID investment treaty arbitration against a North African state.

Our clients appreciate our investment treaty arbitration solicitors' "deep technical knowledge of investment treaty arbitration" and "clarity of strategic direction". They laud the team as working "with high dedication to achieve a positive result" and attribute our success to our "strong submissions, careful legal and factual analysis, persuasive arguments and excellent advocacy". 

For more information on our credentials and track record in investor treaty arbitration, visit our dedicated investment treaty arbitration page.

Key contacts

Shaun Leong

Shaun Leong

Partner | Singapore

Shaun Leong

Partner | Singapore

Litigation and Arbitration

Robert Kovacs

Robert Kovacs

Partner | London

Robert Kovacs

Partner | London

Litigation and Arbitration

Find out more or get involved

To participate in the Credit Suisse AT1 Bond group action, or to receive further information, please register your interest here as soon as possible and a member of our team will be in touch.

Registration is free and without obligation.

Register your interest