Vilius Bernatonis
FCIArb

Vilius Bernatonis

Managing Partner, Head of Energy Industry Group
Vilnius, Lithuania

The most influential and prominent international legal directories, such as The European Legal 500, Chambers and Partners, IFLR 1000, etc., highly rank Vilius in energy, banking and finance, international dispute resolution, corporate, and commercial law

  • LEGAL 500
  • About

    Vilius Bernatonis is the Managing Partner at TGS Baltic and Head of the Energy Industry Group. He has more than 18 years of practice providing legal services in the areas of banking and finance, energy, international judicial dispute, corporate and commercial law. Vilius works with major local and international banks and provides consultations to companies of strategic importance on financial matters. He regularly participates in conferences as a speaker or moderator on topics of finance, the economy and banking.

  • Major Projects
    • 28.06.2019

      TGS Baltic advises Amber Grid

      TGS Baltic is advising Amber Grid AB (the client) regarding commercial and public procurement law issues for one of the key public procurements (steel pipes) of the GIPL project, including the evaluation of participants' applications and tenders and the drafting of related documents.

       

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    • 20.06.2019

      TGS Baltic advised the Ministry of Finance of Lithuania on two eurobond issues with a total value of EUR 1.5 billion

      TGS Baltic advised the Ministry of Finance of the Republic of Lithuania in structuring and conducting two issues of eurobonds for a total value of EUR 1.5 billion.

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    • 01.06.2019

      TGS Baltic advised the European Investment Bank (EIB) on the financing of energy efficiency projects

      TGS Baltic advised the European Investment Bank (EIB) on the financing of energy efficiency projects through funds Jessica I and Jessica II. The success of the pre-financing scheme employed for the financing of the renovation of multi-apartment buildings showed that the banks may be ready to get involved in the financing of this sector with their own funds. 

       

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    • 24.05.2019

      TGS Baltic provided detailed consultations to a Scandinavian capital bank

      TGS Baltic provided detailed consultations to a Scandinavian capital bank on issues relating to compliance with legislation on personal data protection. The consultations included the preparation of documents, the application of international level documents of the group of companies to the companies of the group operating in Lithuania and other issues.

    • 21.05.2019

      TGS Baltic advises UAB Vilniaus kogeneracinė jėgainė

      TGS Baltic advises UAB Vilniaus kogeneracinė jėgainė – a member of Lietuvos energija, UAB group of companies, in the state aid case initiated in the General Court of the European Union where the decision of the European Commission to approve state aid for construction of the cogeneration plant in Vilnius is being disputed.

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    • 20.05.2019

      TGS Baltic represents the Vilnius City Municipality

      TGS Baltic represents the Vilnius City Municipality and 20 other public entities in one of the first class action cases which are being initiated due to infringement of competition rules. 

       

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    • 20.05.2019

      Transfer of Vilnius City heating infrastructure

      In 2002, AB Vilniaus Šilumos Tinklai leased the heat and electricity production infrastructure of Vilnius City to UAB Vilniaus Energija for a period of 15 years. The leased infrastructure consisted of several power plants and all supporting infrastructure.

       

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    • 20.05.2019

      TGS Baltic represents the Ministry of Energy of the Republic of Lithuania

      In January 2016, Veolia Environnement S.A. (a company based in France) and other claimants brought a claim against the Republic of Lithuania in the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) in Washington, D. C. This is only the second time when the Republic of Lithuania has been brought to the ICSID as a defendant.

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    • 20.05.2019

      TGS Baltic advises on implementation of projects on modernization of the district heating sector in Vilnius and Kaunas

      TGS Baltic continues to advise Lietuvos energija, UAB, a group of state-controlled energy companies, which is one of the largest in the Baltic States, on the implementation of the projects of modernization of the district heating sector in Vilnius and Kaunas, which are recognized as economic projects of national significance to the Republic of Lithuania. 

       

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    • 20.05.2019

      TGS Baltic represents the clients in the ongoing dispute against UAB Litesko

      In 2001, the Alytus City Municipality and company controlled by it UAB Alytaus šilumos tinklai leased the heat production infrastructure of Alytus city to UAB Litesko for a period of 15 years and assigned the heat and hot water supply activity in the respective territory to the lessee. In 2005, the parties agreed to extend the lease agreements for ten years, i.e. for the period until 2026. In 2007, the parties agreed on additional investments into a biofuel plant.

       

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    • 20.05.2019

      TGS Baltic advises EPSO-G on main corporate governance matters

      EPSO-G is a state-owned holding company for Lithuanian gas TSO (Ambergrid) and electricity TSO (LITGRID). EPSO-G, in accordance with the goals laid down in the National Energy Independence Strategy and in other legal acts, implements strategic tasks of developing the country’s gas and electricity infrastructure, integrating it into EU energy markets, and seeks to implement the goals of the Energy Union. 

       

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    • 01.02.2019

      TGS Baltic represented Ūkio Bankas against Deloitte Lietuva and Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Ltd

      TGS Baltic's team represented Ūkio Bankas against Deloitte Lietuva and Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited in a claim for of over EUR 100 million for an improperly performed audit. 

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    • 21.01.2019

      TGS Baltic's team successfully defended Bank Snoras

      TGS Baltic together with the prominent Austrian law firm Graf & Pitkowitz Rechtsanwälte successfully defended Bank Snoras before the Vienna International Arbitral Centre (VIAC) in a complex declaratory relief claim sought by another major Austrian bank. Arbitration comprised issues of applicable law, AML regulations, back-to-back loan agreements, requirements for financial institutions and difficult jurisdictional issues. After a two-year legal battle, on 21 January 2019, VIAC arbitral tribunal rendered a decision in favor of Snoras, dismissing the declaratory relief sought by the claimant. TGS Baltic was the leading counsel of the arbitration.

    • 30.07.2018

      TGS Baltic advised TBF Finance on obtaining a payment institution license from the Bank of Lithuania

      On 24 July 2018, TBF Finance, UAB received a license allowing issuance and acquiring of payment instruments. TBF Finance service allows, among other things, eCommerce merchants to accept any kinds of online payments via credit cards and by the foremost popular electronic payment systems. For more information on TBF Finance, see https://tbffinance.com.

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    • 15.07.2018

      TGS Baltic has advised MAXIMA GRUPĖ in restructuring the corporate governance structure

      TGS Baltic has advised MAXIMA GRUPĖ, UAB in restructuring the corporate governance structure of the company (e.g. creating the needed internal committees and other bodies, concluding the necessary internal rules and procedures, related to securities regulations, etc.) in order to create the corporate governance regime as of the listed company and provided other assistance in connection therewith, when the company was in the process of preparation of the public offering of notes and admission thereof to trading on the regulated markets Dublin Stock Exchange (Euronext Dublin) and AB Nasdaq Vilnius, which is currently been executed with the assistance of TGS Baltic as well.

    • 15.06.2018

      TGS Baltic represented AB Klaipėdos nafta in dispute againts UAB Rudesta

      TGS Baltic represented the respondent AB Klaipėdos nafta in dispute againts UAB Rudesta. UAB Rudesta claimed from AB Klaipedos nafta for EUR 1 million payment for the additional works under the construction contract of tanks for dark oil products. 

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    • 08.12.2017

      Infrastructure-related SCC arbitration between the Latvian company AS BMGS and AB Klaipėdos nafta regarding the EPC contract

      AB Klaipėdos nafta was responsible for and successfully implemented the challenging project for the construction of the Liquefied Natural Gas Terminal (LNG Terminal). Due to dependence on the sole source of supply of natural gas and risks associated with it, Lithuania needed to develop infrastructure, which would enable alternative supply of natural gas. The LNG Terminal was the most appropriate type of infrastructure, ensuring the opening of the natural gas market and security of supply of natural gas to Lithuania.

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    • 20.08.2017

      TGS Baltic provided advice to AB Lietuvos geležinkeliai

      TGS Baltic provided advice to AB Lietuvos geležinkeliai, a dominant railways operator in Lithuania, in an antitrust investigation led by the European Commission. The Commission suspected that the client abused its dominant position and limited competition on the rail markets in Lithuania and Latvia by removing a railway track connecting the two countries. 

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    • Representing the Lithuanian Government

      Representing the Lithuanian Government, in co-counsel with law firm Mannheimer Swartling, in a large scale dispute against Russia’s gas giant Gazprom before the Supreme Court of Lithuania in the case, where the Ministry of Energy of the Republic of Lithuania, as a minor shareholder of Lietuvos dujos, requested the court to initiate the investigation (probing) of Lietuvos dujos operations in order to evaluate the decisions of its management bodies in relation to gas pricing policy


    • Advising the operator of the Lithuanian electricity transmission system on the implementation of various electricity transmission system infrastructure projects

      Advising the operator of the Lithuanian electricity transmission system on the implementation of various electricity transmission system infrastructure projects, including the strategic electricity cross-border interconnections LitPol Link (the strategic electricity cross-border link between the Lithuanian electricity transmission system and the Polish electricity transmission system) and NordBalt (the strategic electricity cross-border link between the Lithuanian electricity transmission system and the Swedish electricity transmission system)

    • Represented the operator of the Lithuanian electricity transmission

      Represented the operator of the Lithuanian electricity transmission system before the Vilnius Court of Commercial Arbitration in three arbitrations against electricity suppliers related to the breach of the Electricity Balance Agreements

    • Advised and represented AB Klaipėdos nafta in relations with Lithuanian and international banks in connection with financing of the LNG terminal construction project

      Advised and represented AB Klaipėdos nafta in relations with Lithuanian and international banks in connection with financing of the LNG terminal construction project. Advised the client on the implementation of the project, including the structure of the project, conclusion of time charter party on lease of the Floating Storage and Regasification Unit and ongoing tenders on procurement of construction works of LNG terminal infrastructure, on draft Law of the Republic of Lithuania on the Liquefied Natural Gas Terminal and various draft resolutions of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania, as well as on environmental impact assessment issues

    • Representing VST (AB Vilniaus šilumos tinklai) and the Vilnius City Municipality

      Representing VST (AB Vilniaus šilumos tinklai) and the Vilnius City Municipality in arbitration proceedings before the Arbitration Institute of the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce (SCC). In February 2018, VST and the Vilnius City Municipality filed the Statement of Defence and the Counterclaim and are currently claiming EUR 350 million in damages from Veolia Environnement S.A. and UAB Vilniaus energija related to the malicious performance of the Vilnius heat sector lease agreement

    • Together with business partners Baker & McKenzie, provided legal advice to the client, Ministry of Finance of the Republic of Lithuania

      Together with business partners Baker & McKenzie, provided legal advice to the client, Ministry of Finance of the Republic of Lithuania, concerning financial services related to borrowing in the name of the State and debt management

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    • Represented AB SEB bankas and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development

      Represented AB SEB bankas and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development in negotiations with LKAB Klaipėdos Smeltė and the main shareholder of the company, Terminal Investment Limited SA, regarding financing of Klaipėdos Smeltė, drafted all related financial documents and got them approved

    • Regularly provided legal services to The Royal Bank of Scotland

      Regularly provided legal services to The Royal Bank of Scotland, a major bank of the United Kingdom, on restructuring syndicated loans extended to Lithuanian entities. Analysed financial documents, prepared loan security agreements

    • Advising EPSO-G, a state-owned holding company for Lithuanian gas TSO (Ambergrid) and electricity TSO (LITGRID)

      Advising EPSO-G, a state-owned holding company for Lithuanian gas TSO (Ambergrid) and electricity TSO (LITGRID), on main corporate governance matters including revision and amendment of corporate documentation of EPSO-G as the holding company, as well as of subsidiaries of EPSO-G – listed companies. One of the major tasks was to ensure conformity of the new corporate governance model to the OECD recommendations and to the best foreign corporate governance practices

    • Representing the Ministry of Energy of the Republic of Lithuania

      Representing the Ministry of Energy of the Republic of Lithuania. Veolia Environnement S.A. (a company based in France) and other claimants brought a claim against the Republic of Lithuania before the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) in Washington, D.C. 

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    • Advising UAB Vilniaus prekyba

      Advising UAB Vilniaus prekyba and its related companies, the biggest Lithuanian group of companies engaged in various business activities ranging from retail trade to financial services

    • Represented the Lithuanian Government

      Represented the Lithuanian Government, in co-counsel with law firm Shearman & Sterling (Paris office), in a large-scale arbitration case against Russia’s gas giant Gazprom before the Arbitration Institute of the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce (SCC). This case was initiated by the Republic of Lithuania against Gazprom (claimed amount: over EUR 1.5 billion) for applying unjustified gas tariffs when supplying gas to Lithuania due to changes in the gas price formula that were made in violation of the terms of the agreement on the privatization of the national gas company Lietuvos dujos

    • Represented the Lithuanian Government

      Represented the Lithuanian Government, in co-counsel with law firm Shearman & Sterling (Paris office), in a large-scale arbitration case against Russia’s gas giant Gazprom before the Permanent Court of Arbitration under the UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules. This case was initiated by Gazprom against the Republic of Lithuania in relation to its plans to split the gas sales and transmission ownership of Lietuvos dujos as part of the Europe Union’s drive to force dominant energy companies to improve access for competitors

    • Represented the Lithuanian Government

      Represented the Lithuanian Government, in co-counsel with law firm Shearman & Sterling (Paris office), in a large-scale arbitration case against Russia’s gas giant Gazprom before the International Court of Arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC). This case was initiated by Gazprom against the Republic of Lithuania in connection with an investment dispute on tariffs of the Kaunas Combined Heat and Power Plant

  • CV

    Professional career

    Since 2018
    Managing Partner, Head of Energy industry group, law firm TGS Baltic
    2017
    Partner, Head of the Banking and Finance practice group, law firm TGS Baltic
    2009 – 2017
    Partner, Head of the Banking and Finance practice group, law firm Tark Grunte Sutkiene (former Sutkienė, Pilkauskas ir partneriai)
    2008 – 2009
    Member of the Board, national electricity company LEO LT
    2006 – 2008
    Partner, Head of the Banking and Finance practice group, law firm Sutkienė, Pilkauskas ir partneriai
    2003 – 2006
    Head of the Banking and Finance practice group, law firm Sutkienė, Pilkauskas ir partneriai
    1999 – 2003
    Lawyer, state enterprise State Property Fund

    Education

    2018
    IESE Business School, global executive MBA
    2012 – 2013
    The Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, Diploma in International Arbitration
    2000 – 2012
    A variety of courses and seminars on contract law and international commercial arbitration matters
    2000
    Vilnius University, Faculty of Law, Master of Law

    Membership

    Fellow of The Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, Head of the Baltic States Chapter
    Correspondent of The International Arbitration Institute
    Lithuanian Bar Association
    International Bar Association

    According to Art. 40 (3) of the Bar Association Act, lawyers do not provide legal services. Lawyers are assisting the attorneys.

  • Publications
    • Independence pays off! - Valstybė, p. 85, November 2015
    • Vilius Bernatonis, Linda Strause, Aare Tark, Eugenijus Filonovas. Energy Markets in the Baltics - The article was originally published in Issue 2.3. of the CEE Legal Matters, 2015
    • V. Bernatonis, J. Piatina. Investment in Renewable Energy in Lithuania and Other Baltic States: Legislative Update - Expert Guide – Overview of the Nordic and Baltic Region, November, 2013
    • Business disputes: solutions - Verslo žinios, 9 June, 2006