Werlen, Dr. Thomas

PD Dr. Thomas Werlen



PD Dr. Thomas Werlen is the Managing Partner of the Swiss office. Thomas is recognized as one of the top attorneys in Switzerland reflecting his unique experience at the highest levels in law firms in New York and London, as well as in-house as Group General Counsel and Member of the Executive Committee of global pharma company Novartis. Currently, he is involved as lead counsel in some of the highest profile cases in Switzerland, including the FIFA and the Sika cases.

Thomas’s practice focuses on both white collar and corporate investigations as well as on cross-border litigation and complex financial disputes. He also acts frequently as an arbitrator.

In the white collar context, Thomas is currently representing FIFA in criminal investigations being pursued in the U.S. and Switzerland, as well as in ensuing civil proceedings. Thomas has also been deeply involved in advising a number of major Swiss banking and financial institutions in matters adverse to U.S. authorities both under the U.S. DoJ Swiss Bank Program as well as a number of so-called Category I banks (including Wegelin).

In the dispute resolution context, Thomas has been advising the majority shareholder of Sika AG in a multibillion cross-border acquisition dispute, and Swiss private banking group EFG International in a series of complex financial and regulatory disputes in the U.S., Europe and Asia. Thomas is also representing a number of foreign clients with respect to potential civil and criminal claims in Switzerland and across Europe in connection with enforcement of their rights. 

In the sports area, Thomas has become fast a well known name in representing clients in major sport-related cases. Aside from his role for FIFA described above he has amongst others helped Asia League in a highly sensitive matter with FIBA (the International Basketball Federation) and supported one of the key shareholders in the Highlight/Constantin Medien Group, which includes amongst others the Team Marketing AG, the company managing the marketing rights of the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), in a bitter fight for control over the two holding companies and its subsidiaries. 

Prior to joining Quinn Emanuel, Thomas served as Group General Counsel and a member of the Executive Committee for Novartis. Acting in this capacity, he oversaw a global team of over 750 people spread across 140 jurisdictions, covering all areas of litigation affecting a multinational company with a U.S. listing in the heavily regulated pharmaceutical industry. Recognizing his transformative work at Novartis, Thomas was awarded the Golden Peacock Global Award for Corporate Governance, named a finalist for “In-House Lawyer of the Year” by The Lawyer and a “transformative in-house lawyer” by The Financial Times.

Before joining Novartis in 2006, Thomas was a Partner in the U.S. law group at the Allen & Overy London office, covering U.S.-related derivatives, capital markets and M&A transactions for European-based clients. Prior to that, he was associated with Cravath, Swaine & Moore and Davis Polk & Wardwell in New York and London, respectively. During this time, Thomas’s practice covered a wide range of areas, including banking, debt and equity capital markets transactions (both SEC registered and 144A), public and private M&A transactions, structured finance, derivatives and regulatory capital- related issues. He was repeatedly named as one of the leading U.S. international capital markets practitioners by various leading magazines.

Thomas holds Lic. iur. and Dr. iur. degrees in law from the University of Zurich and a Master's Degree from Harvard Law School. He has been a member of the Zurich bar since 1991 and a member of the  New York bar since 1997.

In late 2012, the University of St. Gallen appointed him as “Privatdozent” (professor) for finance and capital markets law. Thomas lectures on corporate governance, finance, banking, securities and corporate law at both the University of St. Gallen and the University of Zurich. In June 2017, Thomas Werlen was appointed co-director of the Executive Master of European and International Business Law (EMBL) Program by the University of St. Gallen.

Since 2012, Thomas has been a Member of the Panel of experts for P.R.I.M.E. Finance. In 2013, he began serving on the Appeals Board of the SIX Swiss Exchange AG. Due to his expertise in developing corporate governance and legal strategies across the globe, Thomas regularly appears as a panelist or keynote speaker at international seminars and conferences, features on TV and radio shows and attracts regular press coverage.


Selected instructions include:

  • Lead counsel to the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) in connection with investigations by the U.S. Department of Justice and Swiss law enforcement authorities of alleged bribery and corruption in international football;
  • Lead counsel for a number of Swiss banks involved in proceedings under Category II of the U.S. DoJ Swiss Bank Program as well as under Category I concerning alleged conspiracy to facilitate tax evasion. In addition, Thomas represents many further Swiss banks in connection with issues under the Swiss Bank Program and other related issues; 
  • Representing an international media company in a multi-jurisdictional insider trading investigation in Switzerland and Germany;
  • Co-Lead counsel to the majority shareholder advice in the multibillion Sika/Saint-Gobain dispute dubbed the bitterest takeover battle in Europe;
  • Representing a Russian-based fund in a complex fraud case involving a number of European and worldwide jurisdictions including the UK, Luxembourg, Germany, Monaco and Switzerland;
  • Representing a U.S.-based engineering company in connection with alleged fraud against a wealthy businessman in civil and criminal proceedings in Switzerland. In the same context, coordinating enforcement actions against the opposing side in various jurisdictions;
  • Representing a U.S.-based company in the raw materials industry against another company in the same industry in civil proceedings in the UK and coordinating enforcement proceedings in Switzerland;
  • Representing one of the heirs to the inheritance of a well-known scientist against the other heirs in connection with obtaining a fair share of the inheritance in various jurisdictions;
  • Representing a dry-bulk vessel operator in Geneva and its sole director in connection with civil and criminal actions against the former owner and director of the company for misappropriating funds and defrauding the company;
  • Representing a company in the oil trade located in Amsterdam against a service provider in Ghana in arbitration proceedings based in Geneva;
  • Providing advice on U.S. and EU sanctions compliance to a large international sports organization;
  • Acting as sole arbitrator in a cross-border financial transaction dispute under the Swiss Rules of International Arbitration;
  • Representing EFG in connection with a complex regulatory and contractual dispute involving a USD 200m loan to an insurance company;
  • Advised prominent Kuwaiti family Al-Khorafi in the biggest ever case before the Dubai International Finance Center Court concerning a mis-selling of financial products against a Swiss bank (Safra Sarasin);
  • Advised the Swiss market participant group (MPG) established by G-20 regarding the feasibility of replacing the existing Swiss Franc Libor with an alternative benchmark rate and what impact including litigation risk such transition would have on existing contracts referencing Swiss Franc Libor; 
  • Conducted risk assessments for Swiss banks in relation to their conduct and businesses with U.S. clients; 
  • Representing  a group of three ultra high-net-worth individuals from the Gulf region in negotiations with one of the largest Swiss-domiciled banking groups;
  • Served as a leading expert for a multinational pharmaceutical company in a successful multi-billion dollar international arbitration concerning a license agreement dispute;
  • Representing Swarovski, one of the world’s most prominent luxury and jewelry companies in a potential patent infringement case;
  • Representing ABB in connection with a patent license agreement dispute. Retained to conduct a pre-litigation risk assessment with respect to potential claims under German contract and patent law;
  • Representing a multinational company in connection with an alleged violation of the FCPA;
  • Representing a bank in a dispute out of the OSLA with another bank;
  • Representing a large multinational company in recouping assets held with financial institutions in Switzerland;
  • Representing a group of shipping companies in the context of a regulatory banking investigation, including administrative proceedings;
  • Involved as expert in a case before the Swiss Supreme Court representing a large industrial company in a case of miss-selling of financial products;
  • Involved as key expert for the interpretation of the ISDA Master Agreement in connection with the insolvency of a financial institution;
  • Involved in FX, LIBOR and CDS manipulation-related assessment of claims across the U.S. and Europe;
  • Conducted an early case assessment for a high-ranking manager of a well-known international bank on employment issues.


  • University of St. Gallen
    (PD, 2012)

  • Harvard Law School
    (LL.M., 1995)

  • University of Zurich
    (Dr. iur., 1994; lic. iur., 1989)


The State Bar of New York (since 1997); The Zurich Bar (since 1991)


  • German
  • English
  • French
  • Italian
  • Spanish


  • Novartis:
    • Group General Counsel, 2006-2011
    • Member, Executive Committee, 2007-2011

  • Allen & Overy:
    • Partner, 2001-2005

  • Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP:
    • Senior Associate, 2000-2001

  • Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP:
    • Senior Associate, 1999-2000 (London office)
    • Associate, 1995-1999 (New York office)


  • 2010: Named in The Lawyer “Hot 100 2010” list
  • 2009: First Runner-up, In-House Lawyer of the Year, The Lawyer
  • 2009: Named as Innovative Lawyer in the Financial Times’ In-House Lawyers category
  • 2008: Golden Peacock Global Award for Corporate Governance
  • 2004: Named as one of the 50 finest Rainmakers of 2004 by Legal Business
  • 2000: Named as World's Leading Capital Markets Lawyer by IFLR
  • 1999: Named one of the Top 20 Capital Markets Lawyers in the World (the Best of the Best) by IFLR
  • 1998: Named as World's Leading Capital Markets Lawyer by IFLR



  • Corporate Finance and Capital Markets, Editors: Habersack/Mülbert/Schlitt, Frankfurt 2013, Third Edition (Co-Author). Chapter: US Securities Laws
  • Swiss Banking, Editors: Emch/Renz/Arpagaus, 7th Edition, Zürich 2012 (Co-Author). Chapters: Capital markets and derivatives
  • Set-Off Law and Practice - An International Handbook edited by Thomas Werlen and William Johnston, 2nd Edition, Oxford University Press, 2009 (1st edition 2006)
  • Publication to Seminar "Kapitalmarkttransaktionen" I-VII organized by Europainstitut of the University of Zurich (Co-Editor with Dr. Thomas Reutter), 2006 - 2012
  • Regulation of derivatives in the US, pp. 39-112, in: Derivative Bank and Regulatory Capital 1995 (edited by Prof. Weber and Prof. Hirszowicz)
  • 1992 ISDA Master Agreement, Zürich 1995 (with Prof. Zobl)
  • Legal issues of bilateral netting, Zürich 1994 (with Prof. Zobl)
  • Fundamental Principles of Swiss Capital Markets Law, Zürich 1994


  • Crowdfunding the Swiss Way – A Return to the Principles of Capital Markets Regulation (with Jonas Hertner), in Law in the digital age, pp. 315-330, in: Festgabe Schweizerischer Juristentag 2015 in St. Gallen, Zürich / St. Gallen 2015 (edited on behalf of the Law School of the of University St. Gallen by Lukas Gschwend, Peter Hettich, Markus Müller-Chen, Benjamin Schindler, Isabelle Wildhaber).
  • Resolution of International Financial Disputes – Can Switzerland be a Key Player? (with Jonas Hertner), pp. 593-602, in: Law & Economics – Festschrift für Peter Nobel zum 70. Geburtstag, Bern 2015 (herausgegeben von Robert Waldburger, Peter Sester, Christoph Peter, Charlotte M . Baer).
  • The Enforcement of Clients’ Rights in the Draft Financial Services Act (FinSA) – Update (with M. Portmann and J. Hertner), CapLaw February 2017
  • Global Benchmarks in the Spotlight: An Overview of Investigations into LIBOR and Foreign Exchange Market Manipulations, (with J. Hertner), CapLaw May 2014
  • The Globalization of Class Actions, (with J. Hertner), CapLaw November 2013
  • Introduction to Business Law, Volume II: Company Law, Skript, HS 2015 (with Prof. Binder)
  • Financial Market Law, Skript, St Gallen, HS 2015 (with Dr. Rehm)
  • Regulation of derivatives following the financial crisis, in: Capital Market Transactions V (with S. Sulzer), organised by Europa Institut of the University of Zurich (Co-Editor with Dr. Thomas Reutter), 2010
  • Promoting a culture of compliance, in: The IN-HOUSE perspective, Volume 6, Issue 2, April 2010
  • Liability of the Swiss financial market authority (FINMA), in: Sonderausgabe GesKR zum Thema FINMA, February 2009 (with S. Sulzer)
  • Purchasing your own shares, in: FS Watter, Zürich 2008 (with S. Sulzer)
  • Compensation of board and executive committee members in Switzerland - an improvement of coporate governance?, in: SZW, 2/2007 (with A. Schnydrig)
  • Hedge Fund Activism, in: Zeitschrift zum Gesellschafts- und Kapitalmarktrecht, December 2006
  • Liability of stock exchanges and other securities regulators, in: ZSR, Bd 124 (2005) II, 3rd Jurists' Forum, 2005 (with Ph. Wood)
  • Relevance of the EU market abuse directive, in: Der Schweizerische Treuhänder, Schwerpunktnummer Kapitalmarktrecht, October 2005
  • The EU Prospectus Directive – content of the unified European prospectus regime and comparison with U.S. securities laws, in: EUREDIA, December 2004 (with D. Fischer-Appelt)
  • Is the "International Practice of Law" the Practice of Genuine International Law?, in: Liber Amicorum for the 35th Anniversary of Bär & Karrer, Basel 2004
  • The regulation of the European primary capital market law by the Prospectus Directive: Impact on Switzerland?, in: FS Zobl, Zürich 2004
  • The EU Prospectus Directive – An overview of the unified European Prospectus Regime, Part 1 and Part 2, in: Butterworths Journal of International Banking and Financial Law, Volume 19 – No. 10, November 2004 and Volume 19 – No. 11, December 2004 (with D. Fischer-Appelt)
  • Modernising Collateralisation Laws in International Financial Markets, in: International Bar Association Committee E News, September 2003
  • The Present and Future of the Use of Collateral in International Transactions, with a Particular Focus on Switzerland, in: Swiss Reports Presented at the XVIth International Congress of Comparative Law, July 2002
  • The Euro (with D. Cunningham), in: 30th Annual Institute on Securities Regulation, Practising Law Institute 1999
  • A new currency for Europe - United States, Euro Bulletin, Capital Markets Forum of the IBA, 5/1999
  • Legal Implications of EMU on Derivatives Transactions and the U.S. Approach, Butterworths Journal of International Banking and Financial Law, 3/1999
  • Legal Implications of EMU on Derivatives Transactions and the U.S. Approach, International Business Lawyer, 1/1999
  • The US prepares for European EMU, in: International Financial Law Review, 12/1997 (with D. Cunningham), reprinted in: Current Developments in the European Capital Markets, The Impact of a Single Currency, p. 81-89, Practising Law Institute 1998
  • Risk Reduction through Multibranch Netting, in: Derivatives Handbook, Risk Management and Control (ed. Robert J. Schwartz and Clifford W. Smith), New York, 1997 (with D. Cunningham)
  • Cross-border Insolvencies in Search of a Global Remedy, in: International Financial Law Review, December 1996 (with D. Cunningham)

Speaking Engagements

  • Speaker, The Traphagen Distinguished Alumni Speaker Series, October 2015 



  • Co-Director of the EMBL Program at the University of St. Gallen, June 2017 
  • Alternate Member of the Appeals Board of SIX Swiss Exchange AG (since September 2013)
  • Member, Regulatory Board of the SIX Swiss Exchange AG (until December 2012)
  • Habilitated Lecturer for Finance and Capital Markets Law, University of St. Gallen
  • University of Zurich: Lecturer for Corporate Governance, Finance and Banking Law (since 1996)
  • Member of Panel of Experts of P.R.I.M.E. Finance
  • Member, European Advisory Board, Capital Markets Law Journal
  • Member, Best Lawyers Advisory Board
  • Member, Advisory Board, University of Bologna Law Review
  • Member, Advisory Board, European Journal of Risk Regulation
  • Member, European Advisory Board, Capital Markets Law Journal
  • Co-editor, CapLaw, the Swiss Capital Markets Law Newsletter