Welcome to ILN-terviews, a series of profiles of ILN member firm attorneys, designed to give a unique insight into the lawyers who make up our Network. For our latest interview, we chose ILN member, Kriton Metaxopoulos of our member firm A. & K. Metaxopoulos and Partners in Athens, Greece.
In one sentence, how would you describe your practice?
We are a traditional full service, but at the same time niche, Greek law firm with an international reputation and presence.
Who would be your typical client?
It is not an easy task, especially during this deep global financial crisis where legal services have been severely affected, to name a typical client. Our firm has maintained its ties with its “traditional” Greek clients, but has also built new relationships with international clients such as Adidas, Abela Group of Companies, Warner, Fromageries Bel, Thomson Reuters, Conde Nast and also distinguished law firms such as Baker McKenzie LLP, CMS, Lewis Silkin, Taylor Wessing and others.
What would you like clients and potential clients to know about you?
That we are a team of reliable, hardworking professionals offering high-quality specialised services focusing on the particular needs of each client. We always work in groups, thus making sure that there is always someone having knowledge of the case ready to serve the client. In all cases, one of the firm’s partners is involved personally and is responsible for the file.
What has been your most challenging case? Why?
In recent years that would be a case widely known in the UK as “Abela – v- Hammonds Suddards et al” where I was the coordinator and head of the legal strategy on behalf of my client, A. Abela. This case was most challenging because for almost ten years, I was leading an international legal team and was responsible for the coordination and legal strategy on a 150 million Euro international corporate litigation matter, involving legal work in Italy, Lebanon, Romania, UK, France, former Soviet Union countries and Greece, which included representation before Civil and Penal Courts not only in Greece, but also in France, Italy, UK and Romania in cooperation with local practitioners.
The outcome of those proceedings was, to say the least, satisfactory. Among other things, the client had filed a claim against Hammonds for serious breaches and whilst the case was being heard in Court, a settlement has been reached on the basis of a proposal made by Hammonds.
Before that, back in the ‘90s, I had represented in all proceedings in Greece, but also before the ICC Arbitral Tribunal in Geneva, an International Catering Group in a multi-million USD arbitration (ICC), which resulted in an award against the Greek State (19 million USD) over the privatisation of Olympic Airways’ catering subsidiary in 1989.
Fairly recently we represented a Greek DVD plant in its twelve year dispute with Philips over the legitimacy of essential DVD patents owned by Philips. The Greek Supreme Court accepting our arguments in full has reversed the decision of the Court of Appeals holding that the facts accepted by the Court of Appeals do not meet the requirements of “new” and “inventive step” and as a result the Supreme Court accepted our relevant objection for lack of novelty and inventive step.
What has been your proudest moment as a lawyer?
The moment I felt most happy in my professional life was back in the ‘90s when I represented a personal friend in a medical malpractice case (sudden death of a 19th year old girl), where, as a defence lawyer, I managed to have my friend acquitted by the Appeals Court (the only doctor acquitted amongst the accused), after she had been convicted to a 3 year imprisonment by the First Instance Court.
In 2006 I was very much involved with the dairy cartel case and the “neighbouring to it” corruption of the General Secretary of the Greek Competition Committee in 2006, which despite various obstacles personal attacks etc, resulted to the imposition by the Competition Committee of fines exceeding 50 million Euro to those Greek dairy companies that were found involved in the Cartel. Penal Courts have also convicted to jail sentences those accused for state corruption.
What do you do when you’re not practicing law?
Mainly dealing with my kids, spending time with friends, reading literature and travelling, when possible!
What would surprise people most about you?
Nothing I guess. My involvement with some major international cases has offered me the chance to be able to easily adapt my self in other jurisdictions and to have a fair understanding of the legal culture of many countries and this has in some occasions, surprised people, but I guess it is mainly because I come from a country with a small legal market.
What has been your most memorable ILN experience?
We thought the ILN Annual conference in Chicago was a memorable ILN experience.
What career would you have chosen if you weren’t a lawyer?
When I was 18 years old, I was hesitating between acting and journalism. I guess journalism would be my second choice, although many of my friends insist that I could have been a good teacher too.
If a movie were made of your life, who would you want to play you?
I guess Monica Bellucci would not be very convincing, so I would go for Al Pacino.
How would you like to be remembered?
Primarily as a good father to my kids and the leader of a firm that is a point of reference in Greece for its quality and ethics, just like my late father and founder of the firm, a pioneer of Intellectual Property Law in Greece, would have wished.