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Thought Leader

WWL Ranking: Global Elite Thought Leader

WWL says

Claudia Hess comes highly recommended for her top-tier contentious work in the sector, which involves assisting and representing clients in complex court proceedings.

Questions & Answers

Claudia Hess joined Urwantschky Dangel Borst in 2007 and became a partner in 2012. She deals with cases and queries involving liability and regulatory issues, compliance, commercial and contractual matters, assists airlines in consumer protection claims as well as claims related to EU regulations and international treaties. She drafts and reviews terms and conditions as well as data protection policies. Claudia is regularly invited as a speaker and panellist to international air law conferences and she regularly writes articles and contributions in air law publications. She is also recommended in various legal publications as an aviation law specialist.

Describe your career to date.

In 1997, I began my law studies at the University of Passau in Germany with an additional focus on international law concerning the English, French and Chinese legal systems. In order to improve my Chinese language skills, I spent one year in China, studying the language and also Chinese law. Furthermore, I worked for a German automobile company in Beijing and for the Sichuan-American Chamber of Commerce. During my legal traineeship at the end of my law studies, I went to Beijing again and worked for a German-based international law firm. As my ambition was to work in the international field, I applied for a job in my current law firm Urwantschky Dangel Borst where I immediately became familiar with aviation law. I enjoyed this area of law, the type of cases, the working environment with my colleagues in the firm as well as with law firms abroad and with my clients from the very beginning, and I still do today. I was made partner of the firm after about five years and I am meanwhile also a managing partner. I have been recommended in various legal publications as an aviation lawyer and I have contributed articles to many aviation law publications. Participating at conferences as a speaker or panellist is also part of my practice. Furthermore, I have been nominated as a Global Elite Thought Leader , so now have the honour of presenting my reflections and observations in this publication.

What do you enjoy most about working in the aviation sector?

I am passionate about aviation and the airline world. The aviation law community is like a big family whose members regularly meet at conferences all around the world. I enjoy working in an international environment and in an industry that is constantly developing and flourishing in many ways.

On what types of matters are clients in the aviation sector coming to you most frequently?

My clients seek assistance in regulatory and contentious matters from me, for example in cases where an airline is approached by a consumer protection organisation or an authority regarding alleged unfair practices concerning policies of any kind and/or their terms and conditions. Furthermore, airlines come to me for drafting and/or reviewing their conditions of carriage or for making their website compliant with German law. Another extensive field of work are cases based on Regulation (EC) 261/2004, concerning which my clients seek advice and legal representation in and out of court.

To what extent has covid-19 impacted your clients? What effect has this had on your practice?

Since a tremendous number of flights had to be cancelled due to covid-19, our clients – who are mainly airlines – literally had to keep their aircraft and crew on the ground from one day to the other. Thousands of airline employees were unable to work at all or – still – only work on very reduced working hours. This has led to an unprecedented financial burden for the airlines. Furthermore, airlines are confronted with millions of ticket refund claims that have to be handled under a large time pressure.

In these troubled times, the type of queries addressed to us were mainly focused on legal possibilities related to this peculiar situation, such as labour law issues (e.g. conditions and procedure of short-term work), contractual and regulatory issues (eg cancellation of events, of bookings, liability and refund issues), insolvency issues etc.

To what extent are cash flow issues stopping parties from bringing claims?

In Germany, many people have a legal expense insurance which covers court fees and lawyers’ fees. This phenomenon rather leads to the motivation to bring claims both in and out of court as the persons do not have a financial risk. 

What do you think will be the greatest challenge faced by the next generation of aviation practitioners?

A considerable challenge will be to cope with the burdens of covid-19. It cannot yet be predicted when the aviation industry will have recovered and which further consequences, impacts and sacrifices will still emerge. Travel bans, reduced numbers of flights and destinations and the reluctance of passengers to fly will lead to many changes in the aviation industry, both within the relevant airlines but also in the market as a whole. 

What advice would you give to young lawyers starting out in the field of aviation law?

Be open minded, ambitious, diligent and sociable. Immerse yourself in the exciting world of aviation and always do your best!

WWL says

Claudia Hess is well thought of among market sources for her first-rate practice that specialises in liability, regulation and compliance matters. 

Questions & Answers

Claudia Hess joined Urwantschky Dangel Borst in April 2007. She graduated from the law school of the University of Passau and completed a law and language education in English, French and Chinese law. She completed her legal traineeship at the Higher Regional Court Nuremberg. Moreover, she has studied at Sichuan University in Chengdu, China, and has worked in Beijing for a German-Chinese law firm and a German automobile manufacturer as well as for the Sichuan-American Chamber of Commerce in Chengdu, China.

Looking back over your career, what has been your proudest achievement?

It fills me with pride to have become the first female partner in my law firm. I am honoured that my partners have placed trust and confidence in me to take this role.

You have impressive experience practising in Beijing. What are the challenges of practising in this jurisdiction, and what advice would you give for success in China as a practitioner?

As there are differences between Germany and China in terms of culture and customs, there are also differences concerning the legal culture and approach. Therefore, it is recommended to acquaint oneself with such differences in order to be prepared for potential unexpected practices and requests. 

What are some of the pitfalls to be aware of when representing clients in high-stakes proceedings initiated by administrative bodies? 

As high fines can be imposed in administrative proceedings, either on the company itself or on the person who was responsible for the relevant conduct criticised by the administrative body, it is important to present detailed and conclusive explanations and evidence to support the client’s position. It is also crucial to comply with the deadlines set by the authority as, if a deadline is ignored, a fine can be imposed immediately. 

What are some of the key differences between representing clients in claims related to EU regulations and international treaties?

From a procedural point of view, there are not really any differences as EU regulations and international treaties are just two different types of legal bases the lawyer uses for their argumentation. Therefore, when arguing a client’s case, the lawyer has to take into account the legal basis for the claim or for the defence. This legal basis can be national law (in my case, German law), an EU regulation or an international treaty. Each type of law regulates different types of incidents or occurrences and the lawyer needs to know where they can find the legal basis to support their argumentation.

How are data protection regulations currently impacting clients in the aviation sector? 

The GDPR has impacted most companies worldwide and thus also the aviation sector. As airlines need to collect personal data of their passengers, they have to provide for very detailed concepts to safeguard the protection of the passengers’ personal information. Although most airlines had thorough data protection policies in place already before GDPR came into force, in some cases, certain adaptions had to be made. With a view to the data subject’s (ie, the passenger’s) right to obtain detailed information on the data the airline has stored about him or her, for what reason, for how long etc, the airlines now often face such requests and, if they are not handled in a satisfactory way, with claims for damages.

What makes Urwantschky Dangel Borst stand out from its competitors in the market?

Urwantschky Dangel Borst was founded in 1921 – 100 years ago! The firm has been practising aviation law since 1955. Our aviation history goes back a very long time and thus also our experience and legal insight as well as the development of worldwide relationships with clients and partner law firms. 

Are there any recent legal or technological innovations in the aviation sector that have particularly impressed you, and that readers should be aware of? 

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the world has come to a standstill in a way. In Germany, there have not been any new laws in the aviation sector recently. The aviation sector is struggling to survive in these turbulent times and I truly hope that air travel will increase more and more as the current pandemic is gradually curtailed.

From a technological point of view, the use of drones is increasing in various sectors (transport of medical devices, police photographs, agriculture, water rescue, infrastructure, detection of objects). There will be more fields of application of drones in the future and a higher frequency of use.

What would you like to achieve that you have not yet accomplished?

I am constantly striving to improve our services and to achieve the best possible results for our clients. This is also my goal for the future.

Global Leader

WWL Ranking: Global Elite Thought Leader

WWL says

Claudia Hess is among the top practitioners in the German market thanks to her extensive experience in advising airlines and their insurers on issues relating to German and EU law. 

Biography

Claudia Hess joined Urwantschky Dangel Borst in April 2007. She graduated from the law school of the University of Passau and completed a law and language education in English, French and Chinese law. She completed her legal traineeship at the Higher Regional Court Nuremberg. Moreover, she has studied at Sichuan University in Chengdu, China, and has worked in Beijing for a German-Chinese law firm as well as for the Sichuan-American Chamber of Commerce in Chengdu, China. Furthermore, she regularly holds seminars on Chinese law.

Claudia Hess has been a partner in the firm since 2012. She handles cases for airlines and their insurers worldwide related to both German and EU law whereas she provides advice and assistance out of court and represents her clients in court proceedings and proceedings initiated by administrative bodies.

She deals with cases and queries involving liability and regulatory issues, compliance, commercial and contractual matters, consumer protection claims against airlines and companies as well as claims related to EU Regulations and international treaties. She drafts and reviews terms and conditions as well as data protection policies under German law, and assists airlines in complying with the requirements of ETS.

Claudia is a member of the European Air Law Association (EALA), the International Aviation Womens Association (IAWA) and the French Society of Air and Space Law (SFDAS).

Claudia Hess is fluent in German, English, French and Chinese (Mandarin).

Transport - Aviation Finance 2021

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Claudia Hess is widely regarded as a first-class aviation practitioner who excels at advising airlines and their insurers on financing matters.

Biography

Claudia Hess joined Urwantschky Dangel Borst in April 2007. She graduated from the law school of the University of Passau and completed a law and language education in English, French and Chinese law. She completed her legal traineeship at the Higher Regional Court Nuremberg. Moreover, she has studied at Sichuan University in Chengdu, China, and has worked in Beijing for a German-Chinese law firm as well as for the Sichuan-American Chamber of Commerce in Chengdu, China. Furthermore, she regularly holds seminars on Chinese law.

Claudia Hess has been a partner in the firm since 2012. She handles cases for airlines and their insurers worldwide related to both German and EU law whereas she provides advice and assistance out of court and represents her clients in court proceedings and proceedings initiated by administrative bodies.

She deals with cases and queries involving liability and regulatory issues, compliance, commercial and contractual matters, consumer protection claims against airlines and companies as well as claims related to EU Regulations and international treaties. She drafts and reviews terms and conditions as well as data protection policies under German law, and assists airlines in complying with the requirements of ETS.

Claudia is a member of the European Air Law Association (EALA), the International Aviation Womens Association (IAWA) and the French Society of Air and Space Law (SFDAS).

Claudia Hess is fluent in German, English, French and Chinese (Mandarin).

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Claudia Hess comes highly recommended for her in-depth understanding of aviation regulation and related disputes.

Biography

Claudia Hess joined Urwantschky Dangel Borst in April 2007. She graduated from the law school of the University of Passau and completed a law and language education in English, French and Chinese law. She completed her legal traineeship at the Higher Regional Court Nuremberg. Moreover, she has studied at Sichuan University in Chengdu, China, and has worked in Beijing for a German-Chinese law firm as well as for the Sichuan-American Chamber of Commerce in Chengdu, China. Furthermore, she regularly holds seminars on Chinese law.

Claudia Hess has been a partner in the firm since 2012. She handles cases for airlines and their insurers worldwide related to both German and EU law whereas she provides advice and assistance out of court and represents her clients in court proceedings and proceedings initiated by administrative bodies.

She deals with cases and queries involving liability and regulatory issues, compliance, commercial and contractual matters, consumer protection claims against airlines and companies as well as claims related to EU Regulations and international treaties. She drafts and reviews terms and conditions as well as data protection policies under German law, and assists airlines in complying with the requirements of ETS.

Claudia is a member of the European Air Law Association (EALA), the International Aviation Womens Association (IAWA) and the French Society of Air and Space Law (SFDAS).

Claudia Hess is fluent in German, English, French and Chinese (Mandarin).

National Leader

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Claudia Hess is well thought of among market sources for her first-rate practice that specialises in liability, regulation and compliance matters. 

Biography

Claudia Hess joined Urwantschky Dangel Borst in April 2007. She graduated from the law school of the University of Passau and completed a law and language education in English, French and Chinese law. She completed her legal traineeship at the Higher Regional Court Nuremberg. Moreover, she has studied at Sichuan University in Chengdu, China, and has worked in Beijing for a German-Chinese law firm as well as for the Sichuan-American Chamber of Commerce in Chengdu, China. Furthermore, she regularly holds seminars on Chinese law.

Claudia Hess has been a partner in the firm since 2012. She handles cases for airlines and their insurers worldwide related to both German and EU law whereas she provides advice and assistance out of court and represents her clients in court proceedings and proceedings initiated by administrative bodies.

She deals with cases and queries involving liability and regulatory issues, compliance, commercial and contractual matters, consumer protection claims against airlines and companies as well as claims related to EU Regulations and international treaties. She drafts and reviews terms and conditions as well as data protection policies under German law, and assists airlines in complying with the requirements of ETS.

Claudia is a member of the European Air Law Association (EALA), the International Aviation Womens Association (IAWA) and the French Society of Air and Space Law (SFDAS).

Claudia Hess is fluent in German, English, French and Chinese (Mandarin).

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