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The Legal 500 Germany 2021

The distribution law practice around practice leaders Sven Köhnen and Hendrik Thies, which primarily focuses on the automotive industry and automotive dealers, also advises clients in the IT, financial services, insurance, medical and consumer goods sectors. "The combination of a central point of contact combined with the comprehensive range of specialists called in as needed provides support across a broad front." Frank Jungfleisch specializes in assisting Turkish companies ("equally competent and pragmatic, makes practical suggestions").

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JUVE Handbook Commercial Law Firms 2020/2021

The good reputation of the distribution law practice is based, among other things, on advising motor vehicle dealers and dealer associations on compensation claims against manufacturers. However, since the departure of a renowned Of Counsel 3 years ago, the firm has increasingly opened up new fields of advice, especially in the health sector. For example, the Freiburg team advises various German medical device manufacturers on the conversion of supply contracts and the drafting of their European distribution agreements. One of the partners based in Frankfurt advises on international distribution systems and commercial agency law, often also in litigation. At the same time, a certain focus on the automotive industry remains in Cologne. However, FGvW is continuously breaking away from this narrow specialization. Especially the comprehensive advice to startups offers great opportunities for the practice. The aim is to establish new contacts via the Berlin office, which will opened in spring 2020.

Practice strengths: Law governing authorized dealers in the automotive and agricultural machinery sector, distribution of medical products.

Often recommended: Stefan Zipse, Sven Köhnen, Hendrik Thies ("highly competent and flexible", client)

Team: 6 equity partners, 1 salary partner, 8 associates
Focal points: Comprehensive advice on the dealer side in the law governing authorized dealers and commercial agents as well as litigation for car dealers and their associations. With interface to corporate law and cartel law. In Freiburg, mainly advising manufacturers and medium-sized clients on international sales, with a focus on the healthcare sector.

Clients: Car dealership at Westbahnhof railway station in dispute over compensation claims against Mitsubishi; Igedos on new service partner agreements; mechanical engineers on distribution systems worldwide; Vitra on revision of worldwide franchise distribution network; publisher in connection with online store; ongoing: dealer associations (including Hyundai, Kia, Volvo, Citroën), Huhtamaki, Berry, propane Rheingas, Ghost Bikes, Getinge Group, Otto Ganter, medical device manufacturers.

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The Legal 500 Germany 2020

The trade & sales team around Hendrik Thies also boasts niche knowledge in the field of design furniture and "has a goal-oriented negotiation tactic". The field of expertise of co-practice head Sven Köhnen is traditionally particularly focused on the automotive industry, where the team primarily represents the dealer side, but clients from the insurance and financial services industries are also gaining in importance.

The team offers comprehensive advice in complex legal cases where commercial, civil and administrative law meet.

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JUVE Handbook German Commercial Law Firms 2019/2020

The distribution law practice continues to stand primarily for the provision of advice to motor vehicle dealers and associations. However, the departure of a highly renowned of counsel, who has been with the firm for decades, has changed its profile in the past two years. Apart from some ongoing proceedings, FGvW has recently been more active in advising on compensation claims, for example, on the effects of the German DSGVO (General Data Protection Regulation). (...) On the other hand, the work for clients from other sectors has developed further, e.g. in Cologne on the interface with antitrust law as well as for Propane Rheingas and the RPC Group. In Freiburg, the team focuses on the healthcare industry, where it advises e.g. the Getinge Group on international distribution structures. In this industry, regulatory changes and the general trend towards direct sales also regularly create a need for advice. This much broader setup shows how the next generation of practitioners is leaving its own mark on the practice. (…).

Practice strengths: Law governing authorized dealers in the automotive and agricultural machinery sector, distribution of medical products.

Often recommended: Stefan Zipse, Sven Köhnen

Team: 6 equity partners, 1 salary partner, 7 associates, 2 of counsel

Priorities: Particularly in Cologne, comprehensive advice on the dealer side in dealership and commercial agency law as well as litigation for car dealers and their associations.  With interface to corporate law and antitrust law.
In Freiburg, mainly advising manufacturers and Mittelstand clients on international sales, with a focus on the healthcare sector.

Clients: Brush manufacturer on worldwide distribution agreements, including terminations; Ghost Bikes on new distribution agreements; ongoing: dealer associations (inter alia Citroën, Iveco, Kia, Honda, Fiat, Hyundai, Volvo), RPC Group, Propane Rheingas (both also antitrust), Getinge Group, including on revision of worldwide distribution agreement.

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The Legal 500 Germany 2019

The broadly positioned commercial and distribution law team at Friedrich Graf von Westphalen & Partner convinces with "the highest level of expertise, efficient working methods, reliability and rapid implementation of decisions". The Cologne practice around Sven Köhnen and Stefan Zipse continues to focus on the automotive industry: its core clients include the KIA dealer association and the contractual partner associations for Hyundai and Volvo trucks. The Freiburg office focuses on advising on international sales structures and contracts in the fields of medical technology, pharmaceuticals and mechanical engineering. With the addition of Stephan Dittl in October 2017, the firm is now also taking over disputed distribution law proceedings in Frankfurt. Christian Genzow is now active as Of Counsel.

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JUVE Handbook German Commercial Law Firms 2018/2019

The distribution law practice is known in the market mainly for the representation of car dealers, whom it advises, among other things, on the restructuring of the distribution network. This is represented above all by Genzow, who is deeply rooted in the industry and retired at the end of 2017. This is undoubtedly a challenge for the next generation, but at the same time offers the younger partners in Cologne and Freiburg the opportunity to move forward more strongly. The focus there is on advising medical technology manufacturers, for whom the team is increasingly active at the interfaces to IT law and regulation, which are becoming more and more important.The firm is supporting its numerous SME clients more frequently on the international stage and is drawing on its network of law firms for this purpose, for example, recently for a packaging manufacturer whom it advised on distribution agreements in the USA or Russia.

Strengths: Authorized dealer law in the automotive and agricultural machinery sector

Often recommended: Stefan Zipse, Sven Köhnen ("technical very good", competitor)

Priorities: Comprehensive advice to dealers in the field of dealer and commercial agency law, mainly in Cologne, as well as litigation for car dealers and their associations. Also interface to corporate law. In Freiburg mainly consultation of manufacturers and medium-sized clients

Mandates: Putzmeister on worldwide distribution; spectacle lens manufacturer on distribution agreements with optician chain; packaging manufacturer on international distribution; shoe manufacturer on distribution system; ongoing dealer associations, including Citroën, Iveco, Kia, Honda, Fiat, Hyundai, Volvo

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JUVE Handbook of German Commercial Law Firms 2017/2018

This firm is recommended for distribution law. The Cologne office around senior partner Genzow is mostly active for auto dealer associations, many of which are regular, long-standing clients. Ongoing advice on compensation claims delivers a steady stream of work. The team is also active internationally and outside of the auto sector, incl. for manufacturers, e.g. Putzmeister concerning global distribution contracts. The Freiburg office works across various sectors, increasingly at the international level, with a specialty in medical product manufacturers emerging: the team advised a client on setting up an exclusive distribution system.

Strengths: Dealership law in the auto and agricultural machines sectors.

Recommended: Prof. Dr. Christian Genzow (“luminary in distribution law”, competitor), Dr. Stefan Zipse, Sven Köhnen (“qualified and objective opponent”, competitor), Prof. Dr. Christian Ostermann.

Practice: In Cologne: all-round advice to dealers on dealership law and commercial agents’ law. Litigation for auto dealers and their associations. Advice on the interface with corporate and insolvency. Advice to manufacturers in other sectors on EU antitrust. Active in legal policies in Brussels. In Freiburg: strong practice at the interface with trademarks and unfair competition. (6 partners, 1 counsel, 6 associates, 1 of counsel)

Clients: Putzmeister on global distribution contracts; ongoing advice to Maquet on distribution law, customs and trade; ongoing advice to dealer associations, e.g. belonging to Mercedes Benz, Citroën; software developer on software reseller agreements.

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The Legal 500 Germany 2018

Friedrich Graf von Westphalen & Partner is valued by its predominantly national clientele in particular for its 'highest level of expertise, efficient working methods and reliability'. The Cologne partners Christian Genzow and Sven Köhnen, who are 'highly recommended', advise on all commercial and distribution law issues and have particular expertise in the automotive sector; they are regularly mandated by dealer associations of well-known brands such as Citroen, Honda, FIAT and KIA. Jan Henning Martens was appointed partner. Leading name in commercial and distribution law: Christian Genzow

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The Legal 500 Germany 2017

The team of Friedrich Graf von Westphalen & Partner offers “the highest professional knowledge, an efficient approach and reliability”. The Cologne partners Christian Genzow, Sven Köhnen and Stefan Zipse provide their advice to automobile dealer associations like the Hyundai contractors’ association, the KIA dealers’ association and KIA service partners and the John Deere dealers’ association. The “client-oriented” Hendrik Thies of the Freiburg office is considered particularly recommendable. Leading name in the practice area of Commercial and Distribution Law: Christian Genzow

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JUVE Handbook of German Commercial Law Firms 2016/2017

This recommended distribution practice primarily advises auto dealer associations. Besides providing ongoing advice to long-standing clients, Genzow in particular is spending more and more time handling disputes regarding compensation claims. An experienced associate working alongside him is also receiving more and more attention from competitors – an important step in securing succession. In the meantime, however, younger partners are also establishing their own profiles; Zipse, for instance, primarily represents dealer associations in the field of agricultural machines. More data protection issues are emerging here, e.g. with regard to the transfer of customer data to manufacturers in the case of the John Deere dealer association. Also Köhnen transfers his client relationships to the distribution practice, as seen in the advice on the commercial agent contract for the RPC Group. The Freiburg team is less focused on specific sectors in its work. Besides boasting a number of regular clients, it also advises on international distribution law, drawing on cooperation law firms around the world.

Strengths: Dealership law in the auto and agricultural machines sectors.

Recommended: Prof. Dr. Christian Genzow, Dr. Stefan Zipse (“pleasant to deal with and goal-oriented”, competitor), Sven Köhnen (“skilled, objective opponent”, competitor), Prof. Dr. Christian Ostermann.

Practice: In Cologne: all-round advice to dealers on dealership law and commercial agents' law. Litigation for auto dealers and their associations. Advice on the interface with corporate and insolvency. Advice to manufacturers in other sectors on EU antitrust. Active in legal policies in Brussels. In Freiburg: strong practice at the interface with trademarks and unfair competition.

Clients: G&G X Competence Center Nord on compensation claim against Xerox; John Deere dealer association on transfer of customer data to manufacturers; ongoing advice to dealer associations, e.g. belonging to Mercedes Benz, Citroën, Iveco, Hyundai, Volvo Lkw, Honda, Fiat, Kia, Xerox.

„Focus-Spezial 10/2016“: Friedrich Graf von Westphalen & Partner among Germany’s Top Law Firms

Once again, the German news magazine “Focus” lists Friedrich Graf von Westphalen & Partner among “Germany’s Top Lawyers for Business Law”. The survey of approximately 9,500 lawyers and 3,400 in-house counsels of leading companies’ legal departments brought our legal experts out on top in 3 categories: Corporate Law, Commercial Law and Insurance Law. On an over proportional basis we are being recommended by our colleagues and, in the Insurance Law area, by our clients. Thanks to these results we have once again been admitted to the Top 50 ranking of German business law firms.

JUVE Handbook of German Commercial Law Firms 2015/2016

The recommended distribution law practice belongs to the most experienced teams, especially in the field of advice for automobile dealer associations. Due to their relationships with these associations, the practice group is increasingly successful in involving other practice groups besides distribution law in the mandates. For instance, FGvW advised several dealers with regard to employment law, competition law and antitrust law, in connection with the Daimler Group’s sale of Mercedes-Benz branch offices. Besides the renowned senior partner Christian Genzow, younger partners have also developed their own profiles. Stefan Zipse advises different associations of agricultural machine dealers, whereas Sven Köhnen attends to the establishment of distribution systems, among others. This is also a focus of the less industry-focused Freiburg office. Distribution antitrust issues have grown more important for both offices. The increase of mandates is also reflected in the addition of three new associates.

Strengths: Authorized dealer law in the automobile sector and agricultural machinery sector.

Frequently recommended: Christian Genzow (“competent and fierce“, competitor), Stefan Zipse (”pleasant to deal with, goal-oriented“, competitor), Sven Köhnen (“qualified and objective“, competitor), Christian Ostermann.

Firm Activity: The Cologne office offers comprehensive advice to dealers with regard to authorized dealer rights and commercial agents’ law, as well as legal representation of automobile dealers and their associations. The firm is also active at the interface to corporate law and insolvency law. In other sectors it is involved on the supply side, including with regard to European anti-trust law. It is also legally active in Brussels. Freiburg has a strong practice at the interface to trademark and distribution law.

JUVE Handbook of German Commercial Law Firms 2014/2015

The trade and distribution team of the recommended law firm has recently grown, especially in the Cologne office with its strong focus on distribution law. Based on their strength as advisor of automobile- as well as agricultural engines and construction machines distributors and their associations with was coined by senior partner Christian Genzow, the younger partners are successful in continuously broadening their knowledge of the sectors and their specialist focus. Sven Köhnen focusses mainly on the fashion industry and antitrust law, Stefan Zipse on trademark and competition law. In addition, the Cologne experts in the automobile industry add to the growth of advice for automobile distributors in relation to the takeover of branch office which are increasingly being sold. On the other hand, the Freiburg team does not specialize in any specific sector but acts as a general advisor for German and international businesses in the region.

Strengths: Law governing authorized dealers in the automobile and agricultural engines sector. Long lasting experience with major claims; advice in relation to D&O coverage and liability.

Frequently recommended: Prof Dr. Christian Genzow, Dr. Stefan Zipse (“the up and coming man for dealers of agricultural engines”, competitor), Sven Köhnen, Prof. Dr. Christian Ostermann, Prof. Dr. Tobias Lenz (“extremely competent and experienced”, competitor), Carsten Laschet, Björn Fiedler (D&O liability).

Firm activity: Comprehensive advice for dealers with respect to authorized dealers and commercial agents law, as well as legal representation of automobile dealers and their associations and as link between commercial law and insolvency law. In other sectors also on the producer side, including on EU antitrust law. Also legally active in Brussels. Strong practice In Freiburg functioning as a link to trademark law.

Focus on national and international recalls in the field of product liability. Quality assurance agreements (Qualitätssicherungsvereinbarung – QSV) and advice in relation to the German Equipment and product Safety Act (Geräte und Produktsicherheitsgesetz - GPSG). Increase in the advice of insurers. In addition, legal disputes regarding distribution law.


Kanzleien in Deutschland [Law Firms in Germany], 15th edition 2014

Trade and Distribution is another practice area on which the FGvW Cologne office lays particular emphasis and which is led by F. Christian Genzow. The main focus lies on the automotive industry, medical and pharmaceutical sector, insurance and financial services sector, building and agricultural machinery as well as energy and in particular mineral oil and gas distribution.

JUVE Handbook of German Commercial Law Firms 2013/2014

The law firm recommended for distribution law traditionally advises numerous car dealers and their associations. Thus, for example, FGvW has recently filed an action on behalf of the Association of Fiat dealers against the manufacturer challenging the calculation of the transportation costs. At the same time the Practice is now successfully expanding its area of practice to other sectors, such as the clothing industry and furniture industry. In so doing it advises on the building up of distribution systems as well as on litigation. Cross-border business is also becoming more important because several long-term mandates are rolling out their distribution systems across Europe. In addition, advice in the field of franchising is increasing, where FGvW is assisting a manufacturer to draw up a franchise system. Its set-up, which now covers a broader range of topics - not least due to the junior team that has been built up for senior partner Genzow - provides the firm with stability and potential for future growth. Because the team around Genzow in Cologne is so busy, the provision of advice on competition law has now been moved to Freiburg, something which brings the two offices closer together.

Strengths: The law on authorised dealers in the automotive sector.

Frequently recommended: Prof. Dr. Christian Genzow ("incredibly experienced", competitor), Dr. Stefan Zipse ("outstanding, good negotiator, reliable", competitor), Sven Köhnen ("a well-qualified and matter-of-fact lawyer to have acting for the opposing party", competitor)

Particularly in Cologne, comprehensive advice to dealers on the law governing authorised dealers and commercial agents. Representing car dealers and their associations in litigation. Also at the interface between corporate and insolvency law. In other industry sectors, also acts on behalf of the manufacturer, including on EU cartel law. In Freiburg a strong Trademark Practice.

Kanzleien in Deutschland [Law Firms in Germany], 14th edition 2013

Of the other legal fields handled by FGvW distribution law in Cologne, lead by Prof. Dr. F. Christian Genzow, is of particular importance. The main industry sectors served are, inter alia, the automotive, medical and pharmaceutical sectors. Thus Dr. Morton Douglas won a landmark decision on behalf of German pharmacists, whereby price regulations under the German Drug Act (Arzneimittelgesetz) also fundamentally apply to mail order pharmacies.

JUVE Handbook of German Commercial Law Firms 2012/2013

FGvW "excels through its strong litigation practice", the team around Dr. Genzow is developing new areas in other sectors, including on the part of manufacturers and at the interface to cartel law. The law firm will not be able to "avoid growing in terms of personnel" in order to obtain significant recognition also in the franchising field.

Frequently recommended: Christian Genzow ("very experienced distribution lawyer"), Stefan Zipse ("a pleasant negotiating partner"), Sven Köhnen (a well-qualified and matter-of-fact lawyer to have acting for the opposing party")

A leading name in distribution law: Christian Genzow

JUVE Handbook of German Commercial Law Firms 2011/2012

"A law firm, which is frequently recommended for distribution law and which is particularly well known in Cologne for its work on behalf of car dealers. In this area it regularly advises in connection with significant fundamental issues, e.g. the ZDK [the German Federation for Motor Trades and Repairs] in a lawsuit concerning leasing returns. However, it felt the overall significantly lower willingness of the automotive sector to litigate than many of its competitors. This is due, partly, to a change in the strategy of many car manufacturers, but also to the insolvency of hard-pressed dealer networks. In other industry sectors the law firm has successfully further expanded its portfolio of clients on the side of the manufacturers. It increasingly practises at the interface to cartel law, where it is also employed by colleagues from the Freiburg office, who also advise on distribution matters especially as part of its full-service to small and medium-sized enterprises. In Cologne an experienced associate moved to Japanese Tobacco.

Frequently recommended lawyers: Prof. Dr. Christian Genzow, Dr. Stefan Zipse."

JUVE Handbook of German Commercial Law Firms 2010/2011

"A leading law firm for distribution law ... The team around Dr. Genzow, which has always been stand-alone, has for many years been a clearly positioned and enduring team in the market, particularly due to advising numerous car dealer associations. Currently the demand for advice to administrators and  receivers has increased heavily due to the growing number of dealers becoming insolvent. The Firm's bread and butter work is litigation, often also on fundamental issues ... An example that illustrates that particularly their work for manufacturers is increasingly at the boundary to cartel law is their representation of a long-term client in liquid gas cartel proceedings.

Strengths: The law on authorised dealers in the automotive sector.

Frequently recommended lawyers: Prof. Dr. Christian Genzow, Dr. Stefan Zipse ("competent and goal-oriented", a competitor).

"Christian Genzow: One of the leading names in distribution law in Germany."

JUVE Handbook of German Commercial Law Firms 2009/2010

"A leading law firm in distribution law, which continues to be known for its work on behalf of car dealers. In this area it regularly advises on significant fundamental issues and, through its excellent network in important trade and industry associations, it again carried out a lot of lobbying work in the run-up to expiry of the Motor Vehicle Block Exemption in May 2010. Recently it has additionally been working increasingly on restructuring issues more intensively in the automotive sector because of the economic crisis, including advising insolvency receivers.

Besides Dr. Genzow, to whom the market is not indifferent, but with whom clients are usually "impressed" and whose manner they often say is "characterised by his fighting spirit", the law firm is increasingly succeeding in positioning younger lawyers in this area, such as Dr. Zipse. The latter represented, inter alia, Nissan in the much observed dispute about the structurally-related termination of numerous authorised car dealerships.

In other industry sectors the law firm has successfully further expanded its portfolio of clients on the manufacturing side, increasingly at the boundary to cartel law.

Particular strengths: The law on authorised dealers in the automotive sector.

The law firm's activity: Particularly in Cologne, comprehensive advice to dealers on the law governing authorised dealers and commercial agents. Representing car dealers and their associations in litigation. In Freiburg joint advice to small and medium-sized enterprises with its traditionally strong trademark law practice. Advising and representing associations cross-regionally on EU distribution cartel law.

Frequently recommended lawyers for distribution law: Prof. Dr. Christian Genzow ("his manner is impressive, a good lobbyist", client), increasingly: Dr. Stefan Zipse ("competent and goal-oriented", competitor).

Christian Genzow: One of the leading names in distribution law in Germany."

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