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Daniel Hochstrasser
Office:
Brandschenkestrasse 90
8027
City:
Zurich
State:
Zurich
Country:
Switzerland
Tel:
+41 58 261 50 00
Fax:
+41 58 261 50 01

Questions and Answers:

Who's Who Legal Thought Leaders: Litigation

Daniel Hochstrasser focuses on representing parties in complex disputes arising from M&A transactions, industrial and infrastructure projects, banking and finance, as well as licence agreements particularly in the pharmaceutical field.

Daniel Hochstrasser has published and lectured on arbitration and litigation in Switzerland and abroad, and is a lecturer at the Universities of Zurich and St Gallen. Since July 2015, he has been a member of the ICC Court of Arbitration, Paris. He holds a law degree from the University of Zurich and an LLM from Cornell University in the USA.

WHAT ATTRACTED YOU TO A CAREER IN COMMERCIAL LITIGATION?

As a young lawyer I started my career in the judicial system of Zurich, first at a district court and then the Court of Appeals and the Court of Cassation. Over almost five years, I dealt with a broad variety of cases covering family law and petty criminal matters as well as highly complex commercial disputes. After that experience, I felt that being an advocate was more fitting to my temperament and character than being a judge. After one year in the US to acquire an LLM degree, I joined Bär & Karrer. I was fortunate to begin my litigation and arbitration career with Marc Blessing, one of the leading figures in Swiss arbitration at the time. It was never an option for me to switch to a purely advisory practice; I always enjoyed the intellectual challenge of exchanging arguments, both orally and in writing, with skilled opponents, trying to obtain the best possible result for my clients.

WHAT ARE THE QUALITIES OF A SUCCESSFUL LITIGATOR?

First and foremost, you have to be intimately familiar with all aspects of the relevant procedural laws; this is paramount. In addition, a solid background in substantive law is required. Finally, language skills are important. You must be able to write clear and convincing briefs, and to present oral arguments in a way that captures your audience.

Moreover, I believe that you have to enjoy arguing legal matters and possess a strong fighting spirit, combined with the ability to develop a sound strategy for the proceedings, to achieve a favourable outcome. It takes a sharp mind to react to anything the other side throws at you, and also courage to incur calculated risks.

HOW HAS LITIGATION AS A SPECIALISATION EVOLVED SINCE YOUR BEGAN YOUR PRACTICE?

When I started as a litigator, litigation was still a bread-and-butter business for many lawyers. It was only in the course of the 1990s that a clear distinction between litigators and advisers began to develop. This went hand in hand with the growth of the biggest law firms in Switzerland, from about 25 to 200 lawyers in the past 25 years. Today, it is almost inconceivable that somebody who is not an experienced litigator would conduct a complex litigation. At the same time, litigators are not usually involved in sophisticated commercial transactions with the days of the all-rounder having passed.

Conversely, litigators in Switzerland are not yet so specialised that they would restrict themselves to just one area of litigation.

CLASS ACTION LITIGATION HAS CEASED TO BE A UNIQUELY AMERICAN PHENOMENON AND IS GROWING IN PROFILE IN CONTINENTAL EUROPE AND THE UK. IN LIGHT OF THIS TREND, WHAT DO YOU THINK THE FUTURE HOLDS FOR MEANS OF COLLECTIVE REDRESS IN SWITZERLAND GIVEN THE CURRENT IMPERMISSIBILITY OF CLASS ACTION CLAIMS?

I consider it indispensable that Switzerland, in the next few years, will enact provisions in the Civil Procedure Code that allow class action-type lawsuits. The most recent example for the need of such mechanisms is the Volkswagen Diesel scandal, where a large number of citizens (including myself) have been damaged. The amounts in question do not warrant individual lawsuits, but it is, from the perspective of justice, important that appropriate compensation is paid. I am optimistic the Swiss legislators will react soon.

ALTHOUGH SWITZERLAND REMAINS A POPULAR SEAT FOR INTERNATIONAL ARBITRATION, LITIGATION REMAINS THE FIRST CHOICE FOR RESOLVING DOMESTIC DISPUTES. WHAT FACTORS CONTRIBUTE TO LITIGATION’S CONTINUING POPULARITY AS A METHOD OF DISPUTE RESOLUTION IN SWITZERLAND?

First, I should point out that in larger M&A transactions, arbitration clauses are included even if both parties are domiciled in Switzerland. However, the preferred dispute resolution mechanism for ordinary business-to-business transactions is still litigation, and the parties to such contracts usually agree on the Commercial Court of Zurich. The reason is that efficient court proceedings, with a settlement conference, well-led by a judge, can produce a settlement that is satisfactory for all parties. This is exactly what you expect from a dispute resolution mechanism, isn’t it?

BÄR & KARRER ENJOYS AN EXCELLENT REPUTATION FOR DISPUTE RESOLUTION, HOW DO YOU ENSURE YOUR TEAM CONTINUES TO STAND OUT FROM COMPETITORS IN THE MARKET?

We are in a strong position as our current practice leaders are all in their prime and we have added two partners in Geneva to expand our team, Pierre-Yves Gunter and Alexandra Johnson. In addition, our main focus is on developing our young associates and to promote the best of them to become partners. I am proud to say that, once I retire, my successors at the helm of our practice will have been part of my team since their early days as junior associates.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO YOUNG LAWYERS LOOKING TO SPECIALISE IN THIS AREA?

I would probably tell them to do the same thing I did: in addition to training in a law firm, acquire the necessary experience working for a district court, possibly followed by a stint at a court of appeals. By observing how litigation plays out in everyday cases, one learns a lot – not only about law and strategy, but also the human condition. This should then be followed by some time abroad, either studying at an English language university or working in a law firm or legal department in the US or London. The resulting skill mix will provide a young lawyer with everything that is needed. For that lawyer to develop into a successful litigator depends on whether he or she also has the character, temperament and devotion to succeed when the going gets tough.

Biographies:

Who's Who Legal Arbitration: Lawyers

Daniel Hochstrasser is the senior partner and co-heads Bär & Karrer’s arbitration practice, concentrating on commercial litigation and international arbitration. He primarily focuses on representing parties in complex disputes arising from M&A transactions, industrial and infrastructure projects, banking and finance, as well as license agreements, particularly in the pharmaceutical field.

In addition, Daniel Hochstrasser is frequently chosen as sole or party-appointed arbitrator and chairman of international arbitrations. While many of these proceedings are conducted under the ICC or Swiss Rules, his experience also extends to the rules of other institutions (such as DIS, VIAC, SCC, LCIA, SIAC, CIETAC and others) and ad hoc arbitrations. He has published and lectured on arbitration and litigation in Switzerland and abroad, and is a lecturer at the universities of Zurich and St Gallen. Since July 2015, he is a member of the ICC Court of Arbitration, Paris.

Daniel Hochstrasser holds a law degree from the University of Zurich and an LLM from Cornell University in the USA. He is a member of the Zurich as well as the Swiss Bar Association, and of the Ethics Court of the Zurich Bar Association. He is fluent in German, English and French. 

WWL says: Daniel Hochstrasser is a key name in the market who is appreciated for being "very strong and convincing both as an advocate and arbitrator".

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

Who's Who Legal Litigation: Lawyers

Daniel Hochstrasser is the senior partner and co-heads Bär & Karrer’s arbitration practice, concentrating on commercial litigation and international arbitration. He primarily focuses on representing parties in complex disputes arising from M&A transactions, industrial and infrastructure projects, banking and finance, as well as license agreements, particularly in the pharmaceutical field.

In addition, Daniel Hochstrasser is frequently chosen as sole or party-appointed arbitrator and chairman of international arbitrations. While many of these proceedings are conducted under the ICC or Swiss Rules, his experience also extends to the rules of other institutions (such as DIS, VIAC, SCC, LCIA, SIAC, CIETAC and others) and ad hoc arbitrations. He has published and lectured on arbitration and litigation in Switzerland and abroad, and is a lecturer at the universities of Zurich and St Gallen. Since July 2015, he is a member of the ICC Court of Arbitration, Paris.

Daniel Hochstrasser holds a law degree from the University of Zurich and an LLM from Cornell University in the USA. He is a member of the Zurich as well as the Swiss Bar Association, and of the Ethics Court of the Zurich Bar Association. He is fluent in German, English and French. 

WWL says: Daniel Hochstrasser is a key name in the market who is appreciated for being "very strong and convincing both as an advocate and sole arbitrator".

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

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