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Thought Leader

WWL Ranking: Thought Leader

Questions & Answers

Daniel Hochstrasser focuses on representing parties in complex disputes arising from M&A transactions, industrial and infrastructure projects, banking and finance, as well as licence agreements, particularly in the pharmaceutical field. Daniel has published and lectured on arbitration and litigation in Switzerland and abroad, and is a lecturer at the Universities of Zurich and St Gallen. Since July 2015, he has been a member of the ICC Court of Arbitration, Paris. He holds a law degree from the University of Zurich and an LLM from Cornell University.

WHAT FIRST ATTRACTED YOU TO WORKING IN ARBITRATION?

At the beginning of my legal career, I spent five years in the judiciary system of Zurich, first at the District Court level and then the Court of Appeals/Supreme Court. After a year in the US (studying for my LLM), I had the opportunity to join Bär & Karrer as associate with Marc Blessing, who at the time was one of the leading arbitrators in Switzerland. I quickly realised that its international flavour and cultural complexity made arbitration more attractive than domestic commercial litigation, and required a more diverse skill set. Moreover, it gave me an opportunity to combine my court experience with my knowledge of common law and the English language.

YOU ACT AS BOTH COUNSEL AND ARBITRATOR. TO WHAT EXTENT DO THESE TWO FACETS OF YOUR PRACTICE COMPLEMENT ONE ANOTHER?

Acting as counsel and arbitrator is like two sides of a coin – one would not be possible without the other. My background as counsel helps me understand the parties when I am acting as an arbitrator, and my work as arbitrator makes me a better counsel, because I know how arguments and the style of presentation are received by a tribunal. While I enjoy sitting as an arbitrator, and try to grasp the facts and issues to decide cases in an equitable and just manner, an important element would be missing if I acted exclusively as arbitrator: the excitement and thrill of fighting for a result, framing the best possible arguments, cross-examining witnesses without mercy, and attempting to convince a tribunal. This is what I consider my true calling. Even when I am sitting as arbitrator, I sometimes feel that it would be nicer to switch to the counsel’s table when I feel that certain questions should be asked or specific arguments should be made in a different way. I am happy that I am in a position to do both, and would not want to have it any other way.

WHAT SORTS OF MATTERS ARE YOU MOST FREQUENTLY INVOLVED WITH AT PRESENT?

The most constant feature of my practice is that it is and has always been quite diverse. In the past 10 years, there has been a steady flow of disputes in the pharmaceutical field, and these cases make up the largest part of my work as counsel and arbitrator. In addition, an increasing part of my practice is devoted to cases emanating from the energy sector.

WHAT DO PARTIES LOOK FOR IN A SUCCESSFUL COUNSEL OR ARBITRATOR?

What a party should look for in a counsel or arbitrator are three elements: knowledge, experience, and dedication. It is of paramount importance that the case has a face, and that is the role played by lead counsel. Although success in arbitration is most often the result of a team effort, an arbitral tribunal will identify the representatives of a party by the one or two attorneys who have the lead, and present the case with depth and charisma. Of course, experience is, among other things, a function of age; however, what is equally important is availability and the dedication of lead counsel to actually handle the case and be involved. I have seen barristers added to arbitration cases late in the game, ie, for the purpose of the hearing, who were clearly not sufficiently familiar with the details of the matter, and thus played a poor role, which could have been fulfilled much better by those people handling the case up to the hearing. For an arbitrator, preparation for the hearing and efficient handling of procedural decisions are key qualities that an appointment should take into account.

HOW DO YOU EXPECT THE FIELD OF ARBITRATION TO CHANGE OVER THE COMING FEW YEARS?

I expect and hope that the criticism of arbitration as becoming more and more complex, time-consuming and expensive will lead to a reconsideration and a return to more simple, straightforward and efficient proceedings. It is not a good development that even relatively small cases (I would label disputes with a value of lower than US$10 million as such) are procedurally dealt with in the same way as disputes 10 times this size, with lengthy written submissions, hundreds of exhibits, numerous witnesses, weeks of hearings and complex production of document proceedings. All of that should and could be streamlined without losing the essential benefit – namely to receive an appropriate and enforceable decision of a commercial dispute. In my view, such a reconsideration is indispensable.

WHAT IS THE MOST INTERESTING CASE YOU HAVE WORKED ON TO DATE?

This would be the Mastercard/FIFA dispute, which I dealt with 10 years ago. By combining court injunctions and arbitration proceedings, we were able to secure a fast victory and a gain of almost US$100 million. There are so many fascinating facets of that case, this would go far beyond the scope of this interview.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO A YOUNGER PRACTITIONER HOPING TO ONE DAY BE IN YOUR POSITION?

I would tell them to do the same thing I did: in addition to training in a law firm, acquire the necessary experience by working for a district court, possibly followed by a stint at a court of appeals. By observing how litigation plays out in everyday cases, one learns a lot – not only about law and strategy, but also the human condition. This should be followed by some time abroad, either studying at a US or English university or else working in a law firm or legal department in the US or London. The resulting skill mix will provide a young lawyer with everything that is needed; whether that lawyer will develop into a successful litigator depends on whether he or she also has the character, temperament and devotion to succeed when the going gets tough.

WWL Ranking: Thought Leader
WWL Ranking: Thought Leader

WWL says

Daniel Hochstrasser draws praise as “the very best commercial arbitrator you will find in Switzerland”, according to peers, who describe him as “a fearless, hands-on master of proceedings”.

Questions & Answers

Daniel Hochstrasser focuses on representing parties in complex disputes arising from M&A transactions, industrial and infrastructure projects, banking and finance matters, and licence agreements, particularly in the pharmaceutical field. Daniel has published and lectured on arbitration and litigation in Switzerland and abroad, and is a lecturer at the universities of Zurich and St Gallen. Since July 2015, he has been a member of the ICC Court of Arbitration, Paris. He has a law degree from the University of Zurich and an LLM from Cornell University.

What motivated you to pursue a career in dispute resolution?

As a young lawyer I started my career in the judicial system of Zurich, first at a district court and then the Court of Appeals and the Court of Cassation. Over almost five years, I dealt with a broad variety of cases covering family law and petty criminal matters as well as highly complex commercial disputes. After that experience, I felt that being an advocate was more fitting to my temperament and character than being a judge. After one year in the US to acquire an LLM degree, I joined Bär & Karrer. I was fortunate to begin my litigation and arbitration career with Marc Blessing, one of the leading figures in Swiss arbitration at the time. It was never an option for me to switch to a purely advisory practice; I always enjoyed the intellectual challenge of exchanging arguments, both orally and in writing, with skilled opponents, trying to obtain the best possible result for my clients.

How do you prepare for a case acting as sole arbitrator?

If you are the sole decider of a matter, the same requirements apply as for a chairman, but the pressure of coming to the right decision is of course even higher, because you do not have two colleagues to rely on to provide you with support and, as the case may be, point out arguments that you fail to see. Thus, diligent preparation is key before you go into a hearing. Usually, I rely on the support of a young associate to do research and provide summaries, but this will never, ever replace my own careful review of the file and consideration of the legal and factual issues.

Practitioners have noted that arbitration proceedings are becoming more streamlined. What efforts are being made to ensure this is the case?

Generally, institutions rely on strict deadlines at the outset of the case (formation of the tribunal) as well as towards the end (drafting and delivery of the award). Both are good measures to force arbitrators to be efficient. However, the period in between is heavily influenced not only by the arbitrators, but by the parties, and in particular counsel are not always too keen on accepting strict guidelines and efficient proceedings. In my view, all of us (institutions, arbitrators, counsel, in-house counsel) are called upon to contribute to efficient proceedings.

In your opinion, has the attorney-client relationship changed since you first started practising?

Indeed, I believe that there has been a certain shift. When I started representing parties, the lawyer in charge of the case benefited from the trust of the client and dealt with the matter as he or she saw fit. The relationship was based on the fact that the client felt that they had the best lawyer for the case, and followed that attorney’s advice. Nowadays, clients and in-house counsel are more critical, and question the advice of outside counsel constantly. While it is of course the duty of counsel to explain to the client what he or she does and why – and constructive discussions to implement a strategy are helpful – it is sometimes frustrating that even routine steps need to be the subject of lengthy exchanges. Clients thus add to costs they otherwise complain about.

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

I am pleased that younger colleagues are very efficient at using IT, AI and internet-based tools, which makes their work more efficient compared to doing them the old way. They are the ones driving the firm towards adapting new technologies, which is extremely valuable – one simply cannot stand still in today’s fast-changing world.

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

Switzerland as an economy has done better than other countries for a number of reasons – the discussion of which would certainly go beyond the scope of this interview. Swiss law firms are well equipped and provide excellent services to the business community, which is why foreign firms establishing subsidiaries in Switzerland have so far failed to have an impact. For arbitration, it seems that the long-standing experience and the high professionalism of Swiss arbitration practitioners are qualities that do not lose value, and the Swiss arbitration community works hard to keep its standing in the market.

How is digitalisation affecting you and your firm’s practice?

Obviously, digitalisation is extremely helpful for efficient work, as is delegating to machines and computers menial tasks that otherwise would have been done by people, constituting rather frustrating and not very satisfactory work. On the other hand, it requires constant investment, and the upgrades of our firm’s tools are a considerable part of our expenses. While traditionally, after personnel office space was the second cost item, it is my impression that IT-related expenses have now become more substantial, and are the second-largest cost item.

What is your proudest achievement to date?

I am proud that we have been able to develop the disputes practice from two partners and two associates in 1999 to 10 partners and 25 associates, all of whom are recognised in the market for their skills. We are constantly ranked among the leading firms in Switzerland and Europe-wide, in terms of both the strength of our team and the outstanding quality of our individuals. Personally, I believe that it pays off to walk a straight line so that people know what you stand for, as both an attorney and a person. Sometimes, it is necessary to speak out when things develop in a way that you consider unsatisfactory, even if in the short term you pay the price for that; in the long run, people will recognise the value of your standing up for the principles you believe in.

Global Leader

Arbitration 2020

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Daniel Hochstrasser is singled out by market sources as a top name in the arbitration space as well as a “strong chairman” with “a quick mind”.

Biography

Daniel Hochstrasser co-heads Bär & Karrer's arbitration practice, concentrating on commercial litigation and international arbitration. He primarily focuses on representing parties in complex disputes arising from M&A transactions, industrial and infrastructure projects, banking and finance, as well as license agreements, particularly in the pharmaceutical field.

In addition, Daniel Hochstrasser is frequently chosen as a party-appointed arbitrator and chairman of international arbitrations. While many of these proceedings are conducted under the ICC or Swiss rules, his experience also extends to the rules of other institutions, ad hoc and investment arbitrations. He has published and lectured on arbitration and litigation in Switzerland and abroad, and is a lecturer at the universities of Zurich and St Gallen.

Since July 2015, Daniel Hochstrasser has been a member of the ICC Court of Arbitration, Paris, and since January 2019 on the board of the Finland Arbitration Institute. He is a member of the Ethics Court of the Zurich Bar Association, the Zurich, Swiss and International bar associations and the Association Suisse de l'Arbitrage (ASA). He is also a former member of the Arbitration Court of the Swiss Chambers of Commerce.

Daniel Hochstrasser holds a law degree from the University of Zurich and an LLM from Cornell University in the USA. He is fluent in German, English and French.

Bär & Karrer is a renowned Swiss law firm with more than 170 lawyers in Zurich, Geneva, Lugano and Zug. Its core business is advising clients on innovative and complex transactions and representing them in litigation, arbitration and regulatory proceedings. The firm's clients range from multinational corporations to private individuals in Switzerland and around the world.

Bär & Karrer has been repeatedly awarded Switzerland's "Law Firm of the Year" by the most prestigious international legal ranking agencies.

Litigation

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Daniel Hochstrasser is recognised for his top-notch commercial litigation practice that runs the gamut of contentious matters from infrastructure to transactional disputes.

Biography

Daniel Hochstrasser co-heads Bär & Karrer's arbitration practice, concentrating on commercial litigation and international arbitration. He primarily focuses on representing parties in complex disputes arising from M&A transactions, industrial and infrastructure projects, banking and finance, as well as license agreements, particularly in the pharmaceutical field.

In addition, Daniel Hochstrasser is frequently chosen as a party-appointed arbitrator and chairman of international arbitrations. While many of these proceedings are conducted under the ICC or Swiss rules, his experience also extends to the rules of other institutions, ad hoc and investment arbitrations. He has published and lectured on arbitration and litigation in Switzerland and abroad, and is a lecturer at the universities of Zurich and St Gallen.

Since July 2015, Daniel Hochstrasser has been a member of the ICC Court of Arbitration, Paris, and since January 2019 on the board of the Finland Arbitration Institute. He is a member of the Ethics Court of the Zurich Bar Association, the Zurich, Swiss and International bar associations and the Association Suisse de l'Arbitrage (ASA). He is also a former member of the Arbitration Court of the Swiss Chambers of Commerce.

Daniel Hochstrasser holds a law degree from the University of Zurich and an LLM from Cornell University in the USA. He is fluent in German, English and French.

Bär & Karrer is a renowned Swiss law firm with more than 170 lawyers in Zurich, Geneva, Lugano and Zug. Its core business is advising clients on innovative and complex transactions and representing them in litigation, arbitration and regulatory proceedings. The firm's clients range from multinational corporations to private individuals in Switzerland and around the world.

Bär & Karrer has been repeatedly awarded Switzerland's "Law Firm of the Year" by the most prestigious international legal ranking agencies.

National Leader

Switzerland - Arbitration

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Daniel Hochstrasser is described by peers as “a heavyweight in the market and one of the best-known arbitrators” in Switzerland. He is a seasoned expert in disputes arising from M&A matters, infrastructure projects and finance transactions.

Biography

Daniel Hochstrasser co-heads Bär & Karrer's arbitration practice, concentrating on commercial litigation and international arbitration. He primarily focuses on representing parties in complex disputes arising from M&A transactions, industrial and infrastructure projects, banking and finance, as well as license agreements, particularly in the pharmaceutical field.

In addition, Daniel Hochstrasser is frequently chosen as a party-appointed arbitrator and chairman of international arbitrations. While many of these proceedings are conducted under the ICC or Swiss rules, his experience also extends to the rules of other institutions, ad hoc and investment arbitrations. He has published and lectured on arbitration and litigation in Switzerland and abroad, and is a lecturer at the universities of Zurich and St Gallen.

Since July 2015, Daniel Hochstrasser has been a member of the ICC Court of Arbitration, Paris, and since January 2019 on the board of the Finland Arbitration Institute. He is a member of the Ethics Court of the Zurich Bar Association, the Zurich, Swiss and International bar associations and the Association Suisse de l'Arbitrage (ASA). He is also a former member of the Arbitration Court of the Swiss Chambers of Commerce.

Daniel Hochstrasser holds a law degree from the University of Zurich and an LLM from Cornell University in the USA. He is fluent in German, English and French.

Bär & Karrer is a renowned Swiss law firm with more than 170 lawyers in Zurich, Geneva, Lugano and Zug. Its core business is advising clients on innovative and complex transactions and representing them in litigation, arbitration and regulatory proceedings. The firm's clients range from multinational corporations to private individuals in Switzerland and around the world.

Bär & Karrer has been repeatedly awarded Switzerland's "Law Firm of the Year" by the most prestigious international legal ranking agencies.

Switzerland - Litigation

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Daniel Hochstrasser is held in high esteem for his superb commercial litigation practice. He is an expert in M&A and project-related disputes and is widely endorsed as “a big name” in the market.

Biography

Daniel Hochstrasser co-heads Bär & Karrer's arbitration practice, concentrating on commercial litigation and international arbitration. He primarily focuses on representing parties in complex disputes arising from M&A transactions, industrial and infrastructure projects, banking and finance, as well as license agreements, particularly in the pharmaceutical field.

In addition, Daniel Hochstrasser is frequently chosen as a party-appointed arbitrator and chairman of international arbitrations. While many of these proceedings are conducted under the ICC or Swiss rules, his experience also extends to the rules of other institutions, ad hoc and investment arbitrations. He has published and lectured on arbitration and litigation in Switzerland and abroad, and is a lecturer at the universities of Zurich and St Gallen.

Since July 2015, Daniel Hochstrasser has been a member of the ICC Court of Arbitration, Paris, and since January 2019 on the board of the Finland Arbitration Institute. He is a member of the Ethics Court of the Zurich Bar Association, the Zurich, Swiss and International bar associations and the Association Suisse de l'Arbitrage (ASA). He is also a former member of the Arbitration Court of the Swiss Chambers of Commerce.

Daniel Hochstrasser holds a law degree from the University of Zurich and an LLM from Cornell University in the USA. He is fluent in German, English and French.

Bär & Karrer is a renowned Swiss law firm with more than 170 lawyers in Zurich, Geneva, Lugano and Zug. Its core business is advising clients on innovative and complex transactions and representing them in litigation, arbitration and regulatory proceedings. The firm's clients range from multinational corporations to private individuals in Switzerland and around the world.

Bär & Karrer has been repeatedly awarded Switzerland's "Law Firm of the Year" by the most prestigious international legal ranking agencies.

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