Claus von Wobeser
Office:
Paseo de los Tamarindos 60, 4th Floor
Bosques de las Lomas, Cuajimalpa
05120
City:
Mexico City
Country:
Mexico
Tel:
+52 55 5258 10 11
Fax:
+52 55 5258 1098

Questions and Answers:

Who's Who Legal Thought Leaders - Arbitration

Claus von Wobeser is managing partner and head of the dispute resolution practice of Von Wobeser y Sierra SC. Throughout his extensive career, spanning more than 30 years, Mr von Wobeser has acted in over 200 arbitrations as counsel, arbitrator and expert. He has also acted as vice president of the International Court of Arbitration of the ICC and member of the ICISD Arbitrator’s Panel and is currently member of the London Court of Arbitration. Mr von Wobeser has received global recognition for his work in arbitration as counsel and arbitrator. In 2017, Chambers Latin America awarded him the Lifetime Achievement Award.

WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO SPECIALISE IN ARBITRATION?

During my doctoral studies in Paris, I participated in a conference on the US-Iran Claims Tribunal, where I met a representative of the ICC Court of Arbitration who introduced me to the secretary general of the ICC Court. I ended up becoming the first Latin American member of the ICC Court and that is how I became engaged with arbitration. When I returned to Mexico, I practised for several years in corporate law and M&A, while at the same time promoting arbitration in Latin America by participating in conferences and writing articles. Arbitration was not at all popular in the region at the time and there had only been two cases at the ICC involving Latin American parties. Little by little, it began to gain momentum and I started receiving nominations as arbitrator.

YOU HAVE ACHIEVED SO MUCH IN YOUR CAREER, BUT WHAT WOULD YOU SAY HAS BEEN YOUR BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT TO DATE?

I regard my greatest achievement as having founded and developed one of the principal firms in Mexico and an important player in arbitration in Latin America. Seeing the firm grow, not only in size, but also in the quality and scope of our services, has been extremely rewarding.

WHAT HAS BEEN THE MOST EXCITING ARBITRAL DISPUTE YOU HAVE WORKED ON DURING YOUR CAREER?

I would say that the most exciting case I have worked on would have to be the COMMISA v Pemex case, which became famous for the enforcement of the award in New York, that had been annulled at the seat of the arbitration in Mexico. I participated in the case in different capacities from the beginning, first during the arbitration in Mexico, then in the annulment proceedings in Mexico, and finally in the enforcement proceedings in New York.

HOW HAS YOUR EXPERIENCE IN CORPORATE AND M&A LAW HELPED YOU IN YOUR ROLE AS AN ARBITRATOR?

I started as a corporate and M&A lawyer, which later developed into serving as arbitrator and as counsel in arbitration proceedings. My experience in corporate law has been fundamental to the success of my arbitration practice because it has allowed me to have an in-depth understanding of how corporations and corporate finance works.

IN YOUR OPINION, WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES FACING ARBITRATION PRACTITIONERS AT THE MOMENT?

Arbitration, especially investment arbitration, is facing a backlash due to perceived systemic shortcomings that have not been attended by the arbitration community in a satisfactory manner. As arbitration practitioners, we should engage with those who are sceptical of arbitration to devise feasible solutions to address the valid criticisms that have been formulated against arbitration.

IN YOUR OPINION AS A MANAGING PARTNER, WHAT SETS YOUR FIRM APART FROM COMPETITORS IN THE MARKET?

This year, Latin Lawyer 250 said that Von Wobeser y Sierra has a “top-notch blend of disputes and corporate” and I think that is indeed one of our greatest strengths. We have a very strong arbitration practice that is complemented by a very strong corporate law practice, and the two work together very well.

WHAT SKILLS MAKE A SUCCESSFUL ARBITRATION LAWYER?

In addition to dominating arbitration law, a good arbitration lawyer should dominate the underlying substantive law. Core subjects such as contracts and obligations are key, but to be successful, an arbitration lawyer should have a profound knowledge of at least a few specific fields, such as construction law, energy law or corporate law. Financial knowledge to understand damages reports is also important.

In addition, I think it is fundamental to have an open and curious mind, and a desire to constantly learn something new. Often the disputes involve highly technical, non-legal issues, which cannot be pleaded and resolved well unless counsel and the arbitrators have a genuine interest in studying- those issues in detail. 

Biographies:

Who's Who Legal Arbitration: Lawyers

Claus von Wobeser is management partner and head of the dispute resolution practice of Von Wobeser y Sierra. He has acted in more than 150 international arbitration proceedings, either as arbitrator or counsel, as per the rules of the ICC, ICDR, LCIA, HKIAC, UNCITRAL, NAFTA, ICSID and ICSID Additional Facility, among others. Also, he frequently participates as expert in arbitration proceedings and as an expert on Mexican law before US and English courts. Additionally, his experience includes having acted as ad hoc judge of the Inter-American Human Rights Court and as conciliator in ICSID proceedings. Mr von Wobeser has served as vice president of the International Court of Arbitration of the ICC, as co-chair to the IBA arbitration committee and as president of the arbitration commission of the Mexican chapter of ICC. Currently, he is a member of the panel of arbitrators of ICSID, a member of the London Court of Arbitration, vice president of the Latin American Arbitration Association, professor of arbitration in the ICC Free School of Law annual arbitration course, among other designations. His studies include a law degree (JD equivalent) from the Free School of Law in Mexico City and a Doctorate of Law in international and European law studies from the University of Law, Economics and Social Science in Paris.

WWL says: Claus von Wobeser has "an excellent reputation" in the market thanks to his 40 years' experience acting as counsel and arbitrator for multinational companies and governments.

This biography is an extract from Who's Who Legal: Arbitration which can be purchased from our Shop.

Who's Who Legal Litigation: Lawyers

Claus von Wobeser, is founding partner and head of the dispute resolution practice of Von Wobeser y Sierra. He has acted in more than 150 international arbitration proceedings, either as arbitrator or counsel, as per the rules of the ICC, ICDR, LCIA, HKIAC, UNCITRAL, NAFTA, ICSID and ICSID Additional Facility, among others.

He frequently participates as expert in arbitration proceedings and as an expert on Mexican law before US and English courts.  Additionally, his experience includes having acted as ad hoc judge of the Inter-American Human Rights Court and as conciliator in ICSID proceedings. Mr von Wobeser has served as vice president of the international court of arbitration of the ICC, as co-chair to the IBA arbitration committee and as president of the arbitration commission of the Mexican chapter of ICC. Currently, he is a member of the panel of arbitrators of ICSID, a member of the London Court of Arbitration, vice president of the Latin American Arbitration Association, professor of arbitration in the ICC/Free School of Law annual arbitration course, among other designations. His studies include a law degree (JD equivalent) from the Free School of Law in Mexico City and a Doctorate of Law in international and European law studies from the University of Law, Economics and Social Sciences in Paris.

WWL says: Claus von Wobeser is “a true counsellor” and an esteemed figure in the market.

This biography is an extract from Who's Who Legal: Litigation which can be purchased from our Shop.

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