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Thought Leaders

Thought Leaders

Christopher Boog

Christopher Boog

Schellenberg Wittmer LtdLöwenstrasse 19PO Box 2201ZurichSwitzerland8021
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Thought Leader

WWL Ranking: Thought Leader

Questions & Answers

Christopher Boog is a partner and vice chair of Schellenberg Wittmer’s international arbitration practice group, based in Singapore and Zurich. He has extensive experience representing clients in complex international commercial, investment and sports arbitration matters as well as in setting-aside proceedings before the Swiss Supreme Court, and also sits as arbitrator. His practice focuses on the energy, construction, mining, commodities, automotive, aviation and pharma/life sciences sectors.

WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT PRACTISING IN THE ARBITRATION SPACE?

Working in teams with my colleagues and clients. I thrive on team work. The fact that I am able to work in a truly international setting and the fact that I have insight into so many different industries and fields of law.

HOW HAS THE ARBITRATION PRACTICE DEVELOPED SINCE YOU BEGAN YOUR CAREER?

Matters have become more complex in terms of both substance and procedure. Clients – rightly so – have become more demanding. And the emergence of an “arbitration industry”, including dedicated conference organisers, arbitration “press”, social media, and a wealth of new institutions and other services providers, all fighting for their piece of the cake and right to exist.

WHAT IMPACT DOES YOUR WORK AND EXPERIENCE AS COUNSEL HAVE ON YOUR APPROACH TO PROCEEDINGS WHEN ACTING AS ARBITRATOR?

I have a better understanding of what users – the parties – actually want from the process, and what is realistic in terms of the presentation of their case. I am very aware that every case is different and may require a different kind of procedure. I have not used a standard “PO1” in a long time. And I am very aware of cultural differences, including corporate culture and the way states and state-owned entities operate.

WHAT HAS BEEN THE MOST INTERESTING ARBITRATION YOU HAVE BEEN A PART OF?

Many have been extremely interesting for varying reasons. If I had to choose one from each field, I’d say for investment it was representing the Russian Federation in setting-aside proceedings before the Swiss Supreme Court in two Crimea-related treaty matters. In the commercial field, it was acting as counsel in one of the largest ever infrastructure disputes with several parallel proceedings. And in sports, successfully representing dozens of athletes in their seemingly unwinnable struggle with the IOC before the CAS.

WHAT MAKES SWITZERLAND SUCH A FAVOURABLE PLACE IN WHICH TO CONDUCT ARBITRATIONS?

Its pragmatism and quality of (legal) services. The law is straightforward, clear, user-friendly and efficient, as are its arbitrators and counsel. The standard of legal services is outstanding on an international scale. Services standards are generally exceptional. Plus its geographical advantages and neutral standing don’t harm.

AS VICE CHAIR OF THE FIRM’S INTERNATIONAL ARBITRATION PRACTICE GROUP, WHAT ARE YOUR PRIORITIES REGARDING ITS DEVELOPMENT OVER THE NEXT FIVE YEARS?

The main priority is to maintain the level of service we are able to offer clients and to maintain the high-stakes work we are able to offer the team. We are blessed with the best team I have ever worked with and a roster of exceptional clients who entrust us with their most challenging work. Another priority is further growing in the same diverse manner we currently are. We just made three new partners, and I hope to add several more over the next five years.

WHERE, IN YOUR OPINION, DOES THE FUTURE OF THE PRACTICE AREA LIE?

In a process that is more guided by the user and less by those who think they know what the user wants. In more individually crafted proceedings. And, frankly, in more ad hoc arbitrations.

WHAT IS THE BEST PIECE OF CAREER ADVICE YOU HAVE RECEIVED?

Appreciate the ups and the downs, because they mean you are not stagnating.

 

WWL Ranking: Thought Leader

Questions & Answers

Christopher Boog is a partner and vice-chair of Schellenberg Wittmer’s international arbitration practice group based in Singapore and Zurich. He has extensive experience representing clients in complex international commercial, investment and sports arbitration matters as well as in setting-aside proceedings before the Swiss Supreme Court, and also sits as arbitrator. His practice focuses largely on the energy, construction, mining, commodities, automotive, aviation and pharma/life sciences sectors.

DESCRIBE YOUR CAREER TO DATE.

I started doing international arbitration as a junior associate some 15 years ago. I got my first arbitral appointments quite early in my career, so when I was made up in 2012 I had a solid amount of experience under my belt as both counsel and arbitrator. In 2014, I had the opportunity to open the firm’s arbitration practice in Singapore, and today split my time between the Singapore and Zurich offices, working on disputes related to Asia, the Middle East, Europe and the US.

WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO PURSUE A LEGAL CAREER?

To be honest, I was one of those kids who did not know what to do – so I chose the law because I thought it would give me the broadest options. I have not regretted that choice.

WHAT DID YOU FIND MOST CHALLENGING ABOUT ENTERING THE WORLD OF ARBITRATION?

I was very fortunate in that I started my traineeship in one of the world’s leading arbitration practices, led at the time by Gabrielle Kaufmann-Kohler and Georg von Segesser, so my entry was as smooth as it was simply coincidental, so to speak. I did not have to go through the struggles many young practitioners go through today.

MANY OF THE DISPUTES YOU HANDLE ARE IN THE CONSTRUCTION SECTOR. WHY DO YOU THINK ARBITRATION IS SUCH A POPULAR FORM OF DISPUTE RESOLUTION IN THIS AREA?

There are numerous reasons and they differ from case to case, but one of the key reasons is the technical complexity of many construction disputes, which makes it imperative to have decision-makers with the necessary knowledge of the industry, which often simply cannot be found in courts. The flexibility of the process allows you to deal with construction disputes, and especially experts, efficiently. Transnational enforcement is, of course, another benefit of arbitration over litigation.

AS HEAD OF THE FIRM’S INTERNATIONAL ARBITRATION PRACTICE, HOW DO YOU ENSURE THE FIRM STANDS OUT AMONG ITS COMPETITORS?

Teamwork; both within our team and with the client’s in-house team. In-depth knowledge of the industry and the client’s business and operations. In-depth experience in international arbitration matters, especially in cross-border and multicultural and multilingual settings. I believe what our clients appreciate most is the combination of an international team with written and oral advocacy skills that you would expect from a large international firm in London or New York, but with a down-to-earth, reasonable, maybe slightly more civil law-focused approach to handling, staffing and conducting arbitrations. That’s what I am told sets us apart.

TO WHAT EXTENT DO YOU THINK THE EMERGENCE OF NEW REGIONAL ARBITRATION CENTRES AROUND THE WORLD WILL HAVE AN IMPACT ON SWITZERLAND’S POPULARITY AS A CHOSEN SEAT OF ARBITRATION?

I believe it will have less of an impact on Switzerland than on other arbitral seats. Switzerland, due to its neutrality and ideal legal framework, will always be a go-to seat for parties wanting to efficiently resolve their international disputes. If anything, I believe that technology that allows hearings to be held without having to physically be present in one place will increase Switzerland’s popularity as a seat. I also see a steep increase in ad hoc investment disputes being seated in Switzerland. 

WHAT DO YOU THINK WILL BE THE GREATEST CHALLENGE FACED BY THE GENERATION OF ARBITRATION PRACTITIONERS BEHIND YOU?

Meeting clients’ expectations of efficiency; cost pressure; public (mis)perception of arbitration, especially investment arbitration; and most importantly, staying on top of technological developments; and convincing firms of the need for substantial technological investment.

WHAT HAVE BEEN YOUR PROUDEST MOMENTS IN YOUR CAREER SO FAR?

When an engineer I was working with on a complex construction matter – clearly very surprised – told me I was “not so dumb for a lawyer” after realising I had understood what he was explaining to me. 

Winning a case some years ago that seemed entirely hopeless at the outset based on the documentary record, thanks to a sound strategy developed together with the client and decent advocacy. 

And we managed to get 28 Russian athletes who had been banned for life by the IOC fully cleared before the Court of Arbitration for Sport earlier this year. Feeling the athletes’ gratitude made me proud of all the hard work the team had put in.

Global Leader

Arbitration 2019

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Thought Leader

WWL says

Christopher Boog is "a real thought leader" and "one of the best in the business" for international arbitration. Interviewees praise his "vast experience and hands-on approach" as well as his "strategic thinking and ability to mitigate risk".

Biography

Dr Christopher Boog is vice-chair of Schellenberg Wittmer's international arbitration practice. He is based in the firm's Zurich and Singapore offices and represents clients in international commercial, investment and sports arbitration matters.

Christopher has been counsel and arbitrator in close to 100 complex arbitrations seated in common law and civil law jurisdictions worldwide, involving a wide array of matters and under many different laws. His main areas of specialization include construction and engineering, energy, commodities, investment and sports law, as well as the pharmaceutical/life sciences, automotive and mining industries

Examples of Christopher's recent work include: representation of an international construction consortium in several parallel multibillion-dollar arbitrations regarding one of the world's largest infra-structure projects; lead counsel to the licensor in a multibillion-dollar licensing dispute regarding one of the world's best-selling drugs and the payment of royalties under the related licence agreement; representation of a state in two investment arbitration matters in proceedings before the Swiss Supreme Court to set aside interim awards on jurisdiction rendered by a tribunal seated in Geneva; and successful representation of 39 Russian athletes who challenged lifetime bans imposed by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Two CAS panels cleared 28 of the athletes of any wrongdoing and reduced the bans for the other 11 athletes.

Christopher regularly publishes and speaks on topics related to arbitration and teaches arbitration at the EBS Law School in Wiesbaden, Germany. He is a member of the Court of the Swiss Chambers’ Arbitration Institution and a vice chair of the IPBA international construction projects committee. Christopher holds a PhD from the University of Zurich (summa cum laude; Professor Hug Prize).

National Leader

Switzerland - Arbitration

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Christopher Boog is a renowned and “internationally respected name” in the Swiss arbitration community, with peers describing him as an “excellent and impressive practitioner”. His practice spans international commercial, investment and sports arbitration matters.

Biography

Dr Christopher Boog is vice-chair of Schellenberg Wittmer's international arbitration practice. He is based in the firm's Zurich and Singapore offices and represents clients in international commercial, investment and sports arbitration matters.

Christopher has been counsel and arbitrator in close to 120 complex arbitrations seated in common law and civil law jurisdictions worldwide, involving a wide array of matters and under many different laws. His main areas of specialisation include construction and engineering, energy, commodities, investment and sports law, as well as the pharmaceutical/life sciences, automotive and mining industries

Examples of Christopher's recent work include: representation of an international construction consortium in several parallel multibillion-dollar arbitrations regarding one of the world's largest infrastructure projects; lead counsel to the licensor in a multibillion-dollar licensing dispute regarding one of the world's best-selling drugs and the payment of royalties under the related licence agreement; representation of a state in two investment arbitration matters in proceedings before the Swiss Supreme Court to set aside interim awards on jurisdiction rendered by a tribunal seated in Geneva; and successful representation of 39 Russian athletes who challenged lifetime bans imposed by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Two CAS panels cleared 28 of the athletes of any wrongdoing and reduced the bans for the other 11 athletes.

Christopher regularly publishes and speaks on topics related to arbitration and teaches arbitration at the EBS Law School in Wiesbaden, Germany. He is a member of the Court of the Swiss Chambers’ Arbitration Institution and a vice chair of the IPBA international construction projects committee. Christopher holds a PhD from the University of Zurich (summa cum laude; Professor Hug Prize).

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