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Dr. Zsolt Okányi

Global Head of Dispute Resolution, CMS, Head of Dispute Resolution, Hungary

CMS Cameron McKenna Nabarro Olswang LLP
Hungarian Branch Office
YBL Palace
Károlyi utca 12
1053 Budapest
Languages Hungarian, English, German, Italian

Zsolt Okányi is a partner admitted in Hungary, New York and Italy and has been serving as the Global Head of the Disputes practice at CMS. He is based in the firm’s Budapest office and is also the acting head of the disputes practice across Central & Eastern Europe. With nearly 20 years of litigation & arbitration practice, Zsolt has a great deal of experience in all major segments of the profession: in investment arbitration under ECT and ICSID rules, in commercial arbitration under the ICC, LCIA, VIAC and some local arbitral institutions in CEE jurisdictions as well as in ad hoc arbitration under the UNCITRAL rules, and in corporate / M&A and construction disputes, though his more recent practice has been focused on banking, telecoms and media disputes. Okányi is recognized as one of the leading litigation and arbitration experts in Hungary by all the various directories.  

Legal 500 described Zsolt as having “great analytical skills”, “excellent contacts”, ”an outstanding sense of strategy” and “reliable and trustworthy”.

Zsolt is also the author of the only English/Hungarian bi-lingual arbitration handbook titled “Arbitration in Hungary in Domestic and International Matters”. 

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"He has outstanding strategic thinking in litigation and good ideas to support his clients' litigation goals."

Chambers, 2023

"He is an exceptional lawyer with a lot of experience and knowledge in alternative dispute resolution."

Chambers, 2023

"He has strong business acumen with a client-focused approach."

Chambers, 2023

"Zsolt stands out with his superb knowledge of the civil procedure law and court practice and his strategical and analytical abilities. His litigation strategy-building capabilities are unique I think. He is a charismatic person, with assertive communication skills who is able to convince people easily.”

Legal 500, 2021

"He has great overall knowledge and experience in dispute resolution matters, with a particular focus on business aspects; he is able to elaborate very sophisticated strategies and he never gives up; he can communicate very clearly, he can explain all elements in a client-friendly, easy-to-understand way."

Legal 500, 2022

"He is a brilliant dispute resolution lawyer."

Chambers Europe 2022

"Very active and dynamic.”

Chambers 2021

"Very strong lawyer with tons of experience.”

Chambers 2021

"He is accurate and task-oriented person, with capability of making logical decisions and persuasive communication skills."

Legal 500, 2022

Relevant experience

  • In construction arbitration, German engineering giant Siemens AG in a EUR 70m FIDIC-based international arbitration against a regional public transportation company related to the construction of Budapest’s newly built M4 metro line, as well as a separate arbitration proceedings related to the refurbishment of Budapest’s metro line M2.Project finance/Property development.
  • In banking disputes, Commerzbank AG beforet he Metropolitan Court of Budapest in a EUR 42m dispute and in a related EUR 80m project finance arbitration before the Hungarian Financial and Capital Markets Arbitration Court concerning one of the largest property development projects in Central Europe, a major French investment bank in court proceedings related to a bank guarantee issued for a property development project in a regional capital in Hungary and an Austrian bank in a EUR 12m ICC arbitration arising from the financing of a premium office building in Budapest.
  • In bankruptcy/liquidation proceedings Raiffeisen Bank in a EUR 40m liquidation and related other court proceedings concerning a large logistical warehouse in North Budapest, as well as in the bankruptcy of a large metal trader company in an amount of EUR 4m.
  • In real estate litigation a worldwide known surveyor company in a EUR 6m litigation on professional malpractice and warranty claims related to a warehouse facility and a Russian state entity being in charge of handling the foreign properties of the Russian Federation in several controversies before national courts regarding real estates located in Budapest 
  • In commercial disputes a U.S. automobile manufacturing giant before the court in a high-stake warranty dispute, a renowned German luxury car manufacturer in a EUR 3.8m dispute against a major supplier, a major German refrigerator manufacturer in a highly complex court litigation related to the setting aside of an arbitral award made in a corporate dispute, a large U.S.-based payment service provider in consumer disputes, and a major Hungarian insurance company in a EUR 3m court litigation against former insurance brokers
  • In telecom/technology/media/IT sector and related disputes a Scandinavian telecom giant against a Hungarian public media provider in a high profile arbitration arising out of a satellite broadcasting agreement, a major Korean electronics manufacturing giant in arbitration related to billboard advertisements, and a major Hungarian telecom firm on potential remedies before the ICSID against the Hungary; a German engineering giant in a EUR 9.1m court litigation against the Hungarian Chamber of Public Notaries in relation to the document archiving system developed by the client; a German engineering giant in a court case against a major Hungarian cryptography and data archiving company based on unfair commercial practices; a U.S. information technology giant against the Hungarian Competition Office in a EUR 2.5m competition dispute arising from a major public procurement tender; a major Korean mobile phone manufacturer in an IP litigation against the Hungarian Collective Copyright Manager; a major Hungarian bank in a EUR 2.5m high profile IP litigation related to software arrangements developed for bank cards; a U.S.-headquartered agrochemical giant in a patent infringement case involving the transportation of infringing products through the EU towards Russia and Ukraine; a major U.S pharmaceutical corporation in several various civil, commercial and administrative proceedings; a legendary British pop singer in a EUR 5.2m litigation before Hungarian courts; a major Scandinavian telecom company in complex public procurement litigation case arising from the restructuring of Hungarian public media financing; Hungary’s largest telecom company in a EUR 25m commercial court litigation case related to the publication of customer data; and a major Hungarian media provider in a high profile dispute related to the lease of studio premises.
  • In labour litigation a Swedish truck manufacturer in labour litigation in connection with the termination of a former director; a major US corporation in labour litigation against former chief legal counsel; a US pharmaceutical giant in a labour dispute against former compliance officer.
  • In the energy sector a Finnish gas turbine manufacturer in a EUR 2m ICC arbitration relating to warranty issues, a major Hungarian oil and gas company in a USD 12m gas trade arbitration, a French energy giant against the European Commission before the European Court of Justice in a dispute involving allegedly illegal state aids related to energy trade agreements, a major UK-headquartered energy trading company against the Hungarian national electricity provider in a litigation related to the provision of public information, a leading Germany-headquartered energy company about class action proceedings in Hungary, and a major German gas corporation in several commercial litigation proceedings.
  • In the aviation sector national air carriers and a leading low-cost aviation giant on a multitude of issues relating to its Hungarian operations, including competition control proceedings, consumer complaints and aviation regulatory compliance matters 
  • In white collar crime audits and investigations an in-depth internal investigation in a foreign-owned Hungarian insurance company in relation to suspected fraud and bribery involving employees and external brokers; an internal investigation in major US firm’s Hungarian subsidiary in relation to suspected fraudulent asset handling and fictitious supplier contracts.
  • In mediation a commercial dispute between French retail giant and its German supplier in relation to products supplied in a customer loyalty program; a well-known UK-based surveyor, UK insurers and UK property investors in a EUR 6m warranty dispute related to a warehouse facility in Hungary; a market leading German plastic closure manufacturer and Danish/Norwegian beverage production giant in a dispute related to product recall and warranty claims; a worldwide renowned tobacco manufacturer and its largest Hungarian retailer regarding warranty claims.
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Memberships & Roles

  • Budapest Bar of Attorneys
  • New York State Bar
  • ICC Hungary
  • Member of IADC - International Association of Defense Counsel
  • Member of DIS - The German Institution of Arbitration
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  • Author of the only English/Hungarian bi-lingual arbitration handbook titled “Arbitration in Hungary in Domestic and International Matters”. 2009
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Lectures list

  • Lecturer at the Department of Civil Law of Eötvös Loránd University where he instructs both graduate and post-graduate students on Contracts and Commercial Law (including International Commercial Arbitration).
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  • 2009 - Masters from Yale Law School, USA
  • 2003 - Faculty of Law, Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest
  • Studied in Rome, Italy and Göttingen, Germany
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