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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 Ranking: Thought Leader

WWL says

Claudia Hess is commended by peers for her first-rate aviation practice where she frequently represents major clients in and out of court as well as before administrative bodies.

Questions & Answers

Claudia Hess joined Urwantschky Dangel Borst in April 2007. She graduated from the law school of the University of Passau, and completed her legal and language education by studying English, French and Chinese law. She completed her legal traineeship at the Higher Regional Court of Nuremberg. She has also 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.

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.

How has aviation practice evolved since you started your career?

Since I started my career in aviation law, there have been various changes concerning both the types of cases and their handling, as well as the legal framework.

In the field of passenger rights, the presence of claims companies with standardised procedures has led to an enormous increase in claims against airlines and also of court cases. The European Court of Justice is called upon very often to provide legal guidance in constellations that are not clarified in the Air Passenger Rights Regulation.

New technologies, such as unmanned aircraft and drones, are exciting opportunities that lead to new possibilities in the aviation sector, and to new laws and legal challenges.

In what ways has the growing concern over data protection and compliance issues affected the type of advice you now provide to clients in the sector?

The GDPR indeed plays an important role in the aviation industry. Data protection impacts on various activites of airlines – commercial mailings; collection; usage and saving of passenger data; forwarding of data to business partners; data processing contracts; data protection policies; website requirements, etc. Many projects for which I provide legal advice now also touch on aspects of data protection.

What impact has the increasing focus on the environmental impact of aviation had on the nature of client demands?

Many airlines are taking the environmental impact of aviation very seriously, and are developing ideas and possibilities to save and protect natural resources, enable recycling and reduce pollution as much as possible. The contributions of lawyers in this area include drafting and reviewing agreements, or the terms and conditions of sustainability projects; and assisting in fulfilling the requirements of the Emissions Trading Scheme.

Looking ahead, what do you believe will be the main legal challenges that new technologies such as unmanned aircraft and drones will pose?

At this rather early stage of the commercial use of unmanned aircraft and drones, legal approval/licensing and safety issues are currently a challenge; but liability is also a crucial aspect that will preoccupy lawmakers, lawyers and courts.

Where, in your opinion, does the future of aviation law lie?

In my opinion, consumer rights will always be a major topic in aviation law; but new technologies, such as unmanned aircraft/drones and space flights, will also be very significant.

What advice would you give to younger lawyers looking to pursue a career in aviation law?

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

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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