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Thought Leaders

Thought Leaders

Thought Leader

WWL Ranking: Thought Leader

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. Who’s Who Legal: Switzerland (2019) says that he “is held in high esteem by peers, one of whom effuses, ‘He does an outstanding job as arbitrator’.”

WHAT DID YOU FIND MOST CHALLENGING ABOUT STARTING OUT IN ARBITRATION?

The arbitration community is close-knit. It is a challenge to become a member of the national and international “circle”. It takes many years of continued and dedicated effort to build a solid reputation and to be known among your arbitration peers. A good reputation is indispensable for a lasting career as arbitrator.

WHICH QUALITIES MAKE FOR A SUCCESSFUL ARBITRATOR?

One must be hard-working and precise, and keep a “helicopter view”, but still know the file in detail. It is equally important to be open-minded to arguments on all sides and have a good sense of justice. Also, as an arbitrator, especially as chair, one must have good management skills and be able to push the proceedings forward to an efficient end.

WHAT IS THE MOST MEMORABLE ARBITRATION YOU HAVE BEEN A PART OF?

One of my most memorable arbitrations in the pharmaceutical industry was a hearing where I was the chair and the only male in the room – with two female co-arbitrators and female counsel/in-house counsel on both sides. It shows that women have made great progress in recent years in the world of international arbitration.

YOU HAVE IMPRESSIVE EXPERIENCE IN DISPUTES ACROSS A BROAD RANGE OF SECTORS. IS THERE AN INDUSTRY OR SECTOR YOU PARTICULARLY ENJOY WORKING WITH?

I have an emphasis in construction and other “hardware” industries, dealing with highly technical matters and issues such as, eg, power plants or machinery. The combination of technical questions combined with legal issues is fascinating.

HOW DOES LUSTENBERGER ATTORNEYS AT LAW DISTINGUISH ITSELF FROM THE COMPETITION?

Lustenberger Attorneys at Law is a specialised boutique law firm in Switzerland. We have a distinguished reputation as counsel and arbitrators in international commercial arbitration. It is our main business. “Small but beautiful” is our philosophy. Being small and specialised means that we have almost no conflicts of interest. We were, despite being a boutique, recently rated among the top 20 litigation firms of Switzerland.

IN WHAT WAYS HAS YOUR EXPERIENCE AS FORMER CHAIR OF THE INTERNATIONAL BAR ASSOCIATION’S COMMITTEE ON CIVIL LITIGATION ENHANCED YOUR PRACTICE?

Being the former chair of the committee on civil litigation of the IBA gave me the unique opportunity to international exposure and to meet many colleagues from all over the world. I was able to build invaluable private friendships and establish profound professional relationships that have lasted to this very day. This network is still a solid base for my professional activities as a Swiss arbitrator active in international commercial matters.

HOW DO YOU SEE YOUR PRACTICE DEVELOPING OVER THE NEXT FIVE YEARS?

Being a “senior” arbitrator brings along more “senior” cases with big financial risks at stake for the parties involved and, consequently, a lot of responsibility for the panel. I hope to be part of many more of those big international arbitration cases, where I can use my know-how and long-standing experience.

YOU HAVE ENJOYED A VERY DISTINGUISHED CAREER SO FAR. WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO ACHIEVE THAT YOU HAVE NOT YET ACCOMPLISHED?

After a long career in international arbitration, I would very much like to pass on more of my practical experience to younger colleagues in the field, be it in formal educational courses or just by giving tactical and procedural advice to my partners and associates of our law firm.

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 sole and co-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

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

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

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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