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Thought Leaders

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Thought Leader

Thought Leaders - Arbitration 2020

Q&A

WWL Ranking: Thought Leader

WWL says

Christoph Pestalozzi is one of the keystones of the Swiss arbitration market who possesses over 20 years of experience as chairman, co-arbitrator and sole arbitrator in commercial disputes.

Questions & Answers

Christoph Pestalozzi is a partner in the arbitration and litigation team of Lustenberger Attorneys at Law. For the past 25 years, his main professional focus has been on international commercial arbitration as an arbitrator. He is active in institutional arbitration (ICC, Swiss Rules, VIAC, HKIAC, UNCITRAL, etc) and in ad hoc arbitration proceedings. He has handled well over 100 domestic and international arbitration proceedings in Europe and the Asia-Pacific region as chairman, co-arbitrator and sole arbitrator.

What was it about arbitration that made it attractive as a specialism?

As arbitrator, I like assessing and weighing legal positions in an international commercial context. My work as arbitrator is truly independent of the parties and impartiality is an absolute must in my line of work. Counsel work, on the other hand, means necessarily pleading subjective positions. I personally prefer to decide who is right or wrong. The possibility to stay “neutral” in a legal battle suits me very much and has fascinated me for many years.

Your disputes practice spans various practice areas. Which areas do you see becoming busier in the next five years?

An area that will become much busier in the near future in the world of arbitration is the IT industry. Digitalisation is the dominant factor and a megatrend, which will profoundly change almost every professional field. Disputes between customers and IT service providers are on a steep rise. Also, the amount of construction disputes will, in my opinion, increase, since the world has become one digitalised construction site!

Having handled over 100 arbitration proceedings in Europe and the Asia-Pacific region, what are some of the key differences you have noticed in procedures and proceedings?

Based on my experience, I am under the impression that arbitration proceedings in the Asia-Pacific region are more driven by the initiative of the parties because of the heavier common law influence, whereas in Europe the arbitration panels tend to take a more active role and lead more top-down, because of the civil law background of continental-based European lawyers.

Does the rising backlash to globalisation threaten investor-state dispute settlement as we know it?

No doubt, investor-state dispute settlement is under significant political pressure – less so because globalisation is, given the worldwide trend back to national states, under scrutiny, but more because “private justice” involving states has had a lot of negative publicity lately (bribery issues, etc). Politicians plead for more regulatory control of such disputes. Investor-state dispute settlement is presently in a process of change, which is partly justified.

Should more be done to improve the transparency of arbitration proceedings?

Transparency is presently a big issue in international commercial arbitration. The arbitration institutions are clearly opening up more (see eg, the ICC in Paris) and confidentiality, traditionally often favoured by the parties, has become less important in certain types of cases and industries. In addition, the arbitration community would like more to rely on a solid body of public arbitral awards than having to rely almost exclusively on state court decisions.

What steps can the Swiss arbitration community take to remain competitive against other arbitration centres gaining prominence?

The Swiss arbitration community is still flying on a high level, and it has an exceptionally good reputation with a big reservoir of well-trained arbitrators. Recent legislative efforts try to catch the latest trends in the industry to extend even further the arbitration-friendliness of our country. For example, legal briefs, which are submitted to the Swiss Federal Supreme Court, should also be allowed in the English language. Furthermore, there are plans to introduce certain principles that have been developed by the Swiss Federal Supreme Court, in its case law, into a modernised Swiss arbitration law.

If you could implement one reform in international arbitration, what would it be?

Proceedings in arbitration have become, over the years, more and more formalistic, lengthy and procedurally complicated. Arbitration should urgently find its way back to simplicity and to the bare essentials. The production of documents phase, for example, should be cut back to a reasonable level. Digitalisation should make proceedings less paper-driven.

How can senior arbitrators assist and mentor young practitioners to further their careers and transition them into leadership roles?

Senior arbitrators should, in a first phase of education, use young talents as administrative secretaries in real-life cases, take them to hearings and involve them in the more logistical aspects of the proceedings. Thereafter, young, promising lawyers should start learning the job as party counsel in dispute resolution teams. The next step of their career will automatically come with the first assignments as sole arbitrator, emergency arbitrator, etc, and they will thereby become the new future leaders in the arbitration community.

WWL Ranking: Thought Leader

WWL says

Christoph M Pestalozzi is held in high esteem by peers, one of whom effuses, “He does an outstanding job as arbitrator.”

Questions & Answers

For the past 20 years, the main professional focus of Dr Christoph M Pestalozzi has been on national and international commercial arbitration. He is very active in institutional arbitration and in ad hoc arbitration proceedings. He has handled well over 100 arbitration proceedings in Europe and Asia as chairman, co-arbitrator and sole arbitrator. WWL: Arbitration (2019) says: “Peers note that Christoph Pestalozzi is a thoroughly experienced arbitrator whose expertise in the field is widely acknowledged by prominent peers.”

How is the generational shift changing legal practice at your firm? What do younger lawyers do differently?

The legal world has become digital. The younger lawyers grow up with smartphones, tablet computers and laptops. The older generation struggles with IT and the paperless office. Younger lawyers hardly need assistants anymore and the law is found on the internet and not in old law treatises. Arbitrators of the older generation are more “hard copy-oriented” and therefore probably less efficient in the end. However, they still compensate for that deficit with long experience.

What has been your most interesting case to date as an arbitrator, and why?

My most interesting case dealt with defective machines in the former Yugoslavia, which should have produced high-quality and sophisticated premium chocolate. The Italian machinery did not work properly. The arbitral tribunal had to visit the chocolate factory and they finally ended up being chocolate production specialists.

What are the main differences between representing a state and a private individual in international arbitrations or national courts?

Representing a state or a state-owned entity before a state court or an arbitral tribunal is much more burdensome than representing a flexible private individual. The decision-making process in states or state-owned entities is, at times, slow and not really transparent. Government changes can turn entire assessments and strategies upside down. Individuals tend to be more flexible and can decide without needing to go through entire chains of command. It is often not easy to obtain a final decision and find the responsible state body that has the competence to make a final decision.

How has your extensive experience as a board member in the banking and pharmaceutical sector enhanced your practice?

Serving as a long-standing board member in certain industries turns you into an expert in that field. Such experts are more suitable to serve as arbitrators in these industries. Not everything has to be explained from scratch by counsel. State court judges have a disadvantage, as opposed to seasoned arbitrators who are specialised in, for example, disputes in the financial or pharmaceutical sectors.

Out of the roles of chair, co-arbitrator and sole arbitrator, which do you find the most engaging and why?

No doubt, the most engaging role is chair of an arbitral tribunal. The chair has the ultimate responsibility for the efficient management of the case and he or she has to make sure that an award of high quality is issued in time, always treating both parties equally and fairly.

What skills do you think are key to succeeding as an international commercial arbitrator?

An international commercial arbitrator must have the ability to quickly grasp the decisive issues, ask the pertinent questions and find the right way through a jungle of thousands of pages and complex exhibits. Not getting lost in side-issues is key.

How do you anticipate the Swiss legal market changing in the next five years? How might this affect your practice?

The Swiss arbitration market flies on a very high level. Swiss arbitrators are recognised for their excellent know-how – we have a big choice of well-trained arbitrators and excellent hearing locations in a neutral country. Our biggest challenge in the next years will be maintaining that high level of expertise and competence. The competition in Hong Kong, Singapore and South America is catching up. The Swiss arbitration industry has to stay innovative and proactive. It means that we have to double our efforts in the future.

You have enjoyed a very distinguished career so far. What would you like to achieve that you have not yet accomplished?

Always a curious person, I would very much like to more serve as arbitrator in exotic places of the world and in industries not yet familiar to me.

Global Leader

Arbitration 2020

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Christoph Pestalozzi is one of the keystones of the Swiss arbitration market who possesses over 20 years of experience as chairman, co-arbitrator and sole arbitrator in commercial disputes.

Biography

Christoph Pestalozzi is a partner in the arbitration and litigation team of Lustenberger Attorneys at Law. For the past 25 years, his main professional focus has been on international commercial arbitration as an arbitrator. He is active in institutional arbitration (ICC, Swiss Rules, VIAC, HKIAC, UNCITRAL etc.) and in ad hoc arbitration proceedings. He has handled well over 100 domestic and international arbitration proceedings in Europe and in the Asia-Pacific region as chairman, co-arbitrator and sole arbitrator.

Christoph Pestalozzi's dispute resolution practice covers a broad range of additional fields, among them pre-arbitration/litigation strategic advice and representation of parties in state court proceedings. He has extensive experience mainly in the areas of international sales, construction, IT, pharmaceuticals, agency/distribution, joint ventures and corporate law.

Christoph Pestalozzi is published in the areas of arbitration, contracts and corporate law. He is a former chair of the International Bar Association's committee on civil litigation and has lectured on torts law at the University of Zurich. He has organised and chaired many panels at conferences and is a member of various international arbitration organisations.

Christoph Pestalozzi graduated from the University of Zurich in 1977 (Dr iur) and was admitted to the Zurich Bar in 1979. He holds a master’s in comparative jurisprudence (MCJ) from NYU School of Law (1982). He is fluent in German, English and French.

Lustenberger Attorneys is a leading Swiss dispute resolution boutique.

National Leader

Switzerland - Arbitration 2020

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Christoph Pestalozzi is “a very experienced arbitrator” with a stellar international reputation for his work on national and international proceedings.  ​

Biography

Christoph Pestalozzi is a partner in the arbitration and litigation team of Lustenberger Attorneys at Law. For the past 25 years, his main professional focus has been on international commercial arbitration as an arbitrator. He is active in institutional arbitration (ICC, Swiss Rules, VIAC, HKIAC, UNCITRAL etc.) and in ad hoc arbitration proceedings. He has handled well over 100 domestic and international arbitration proceedings in Europe and in the Asia-Pacific region as chairman, co-arbitrator and sole arbitrator.

Christoph Pestalozzi's dispute resolution practice covers a broad range of additional fields, among them pre-arbitration/litigation strategic advice and representation of parties in state court proceedings. He has extensive experience mainly in the areas of international sales, construction, IT, pharmaceuticals, agency/distribution, joint ventures and corporate law.

Christoph Pestalozzi is published in the areas of arbitration, contracts and corporate law. He is a former chair of the International Bar Association's committee on civil litigation and has lectured on torts law at the University of Zurich. He has organised and chaired many panels at conferences and is a member of various international arbitration organisations.

Christoph Pestalozzi graduated from the University of Zurich in 1977 (Dr iur) and was admitted to the Zurich Bar in 1979. He holds a master’s in comparative jurisprudence (MCJ) from NYU School of Law (1982). He is fluent in German, English and French.

Lustenberger Attorneys is a leading Swiss dispute resolution boutique.

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