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Daniel Hochstrasser

Daniel Hochstrasser

Bär & Karrer LtdBrandschenkestrasse 90ZurichSwitzerland8027
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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

Questions & Answers

Daniel Hochstrasser focuses on representing parties in complex disputes arising from M&A transactions, industrial and infrastructure projects, and banking and finance, as well as licence agreements, particularly in the pharmaceutical field, and he frequently sits as arbitrator. 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. He holds a law degree from the University of Zurich and an LLM from Cornell University.

WHAT ATTRACTED YOU TO A CAREER IN INTERNATIONAL ARBITRATION?

After five years in the Zurich judiciary as a lawyer and an LLM degree in the USA, I joined Bär & Karrer in 1993, and worked with Marc Blessing – at the time one of the leading arbitration specialists in Europe. Thus, in addition to litigation, international arbitration quickly became the main focus of my work. I cannot say that this was a conscious decision; it was rather a development that was inevitable. This does not mean, however, that arbitration was not an interest of mine from the outset; while in the USA, I studied international arbitration law, and even wrote a thesis on the New York Convention. What I like about arbitration is the multicultural flavour and the flexibility of the proceedings. You have much more freedom to try to structure proceedings appropriately than in state court litigation, where all cases follow the same pattern. This opens possibilities for counsel to influence the way your case is handled, which is beneficial to the client and the administration of justice. 

WHICH INDUSTRY SECTORS ARE CURRENTLY BUSIEST IN YOUR PRACTICE?

We always have a variety of cases arising out of different sectors of the economy and quite a wide range of transactions. Traditionally, I have a constant stock of pharmaceutical cases (licence, development, distribution). 

IN YOUR OPINION, HOW DO YOU THINK THE ADVENT OF ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE WILL TRANSFORM THE INTERNATIONAL ARBITRATION ENVIRONMENT IN THE FUTURE?

I believe that the ability to handle the possibilities of artificial intelligence will be an important and distinguishing feature of an arbitration practice. The entire submission and management of documents will become paperless, and the search for information in those documents will be done by computers, not people. On the other hand, I believe that there will be always room for great human minds in both the presentation of a case and the adjudication. 

SOURCES HAVE HIGHLIGHTED THE IMPORTANCE OF GENDER DIVERSITY WITHIN THE INTERNATIONAL ARBITRATION COMMUNITY. IN YOUR OPINION, WHAT FURTHER STEPS MUST BE TAKEN TO PROMOTE WOMEN’S ENTRY INTO THE PROFESSION?

Gender diversity is as important in international arbitration as in every other area of society; there is simply nothing special here. It is my impression that arbitration institutions play an important role, and they accept this responsibility by making sure that their own appointments are diverse, and not entirely focused on the same old group of practitioners that we had 10 or 20 years ago. Now counsel and, particularly, clients have to follow. There is still sometimes the impression that parties, influenced by their cultural background, have a strict preference for male arbitrators. I am not sure that international arbitration alone will achieve cultural change in these countries that will lead to equal opportunities for both genders; however, arbitration can contribute in that regard, and those who have seen the signs should try to exercise their influence in the right direction.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO SOMEONE STARTING OUT IN INTERNATIONAL ARBITRATION?

In my view, you need an extremely solid foundation in procedural law; for young practitioners in my country, I therefore believe that to spend a certain amount of time in the state court system is helpful to get an understanding of how procedures work. Thereafter, time at an arbitral institution, such as the ICC, can also be very enlightening. Finally, you should join a law firm with a busy arbitration practice, which allows you to be exposed to a variety of cases that will provide you with the experience that you need. Quite obviously, familiarity with both the civil and common law system is absolutely key; arbitrations quite often are at the cutting edge between the two systems, with elements from both legal systems playing a role. Their understanding is thus crucial. 

GIVEN THE CONFIDENTIAL NATURE OF ARBITRATIONS, WHAT EFFECT IS THIS HAVING ON THE DEVELOPMENT OF LEGAL PRECEDENT?

Several commentators have pointed out recently that the fact that entire areas of the law are dealt with in disputes, and in arbitration, limits the development of case law in those fields – case law that is, depending on the legal system, important or even crucial to learn how specific issues are decided in practice. The remedy I see is that the institutions and tribunals are encouraged to publish their decisions systematically, so that the accusation that arbitration creates a secret legal system cannot be upheld. 

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR GREATEST ACHIEVEMENT TO DATE?

I am proud that in my firm, we have been able to develop our arbitration practice from two partners and two associates in 1999 to 10 partners and 20 associates, all of whom are recognised in the market for their skills, and we are constantly ranked among the leading dispute resolution firms in Switzerland and Europe wide, both in terms of 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 term people will recognise the value of your standing up for the principles you believe in.

HOW DO YOU PLAN TO DEVELOP YOUR PRACTICE OVER THE NEXT FIVE YEARS?

My plan is to further strengthen the arbitration practice group in our firm, allowing younger colleagues to get a wider exposure to case work, publications and speaking engagements. For me, now is the time to pass on my experience and knowledge to a new generation of arbitration practitioners, both within my firm and outside it. I plan to continue representing parties as counsel, because this is my passion, and I would miss it terribly as part of my portfolio of work. I want to maintain a good balance between counsel mandates and arbitrator appointments.

Global Leader

Arbitration 2019

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Recommended

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".

Biography

Daniel Hochstrasser is the senior partner and 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 licence agreements, particularly in the pharmaceutical field.

In addition, Daniel Hochstrasser is frequently chosen as sole or 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 (such as DIS, VIAC, SCC, LCIA, SIAC, CIETAC) and ad hoc 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, he is a member of the ICC Court of Arbitration, Paris.

Daniel Hochstrasser holds a law degree from the University of Zurich and an LLM from Cornell University in the USA. He is a member of the Zurich as well as the Swiss Bar Association, and of the Ethics Court of the Zurich Bar Association. He is fluent in German, English and French. 

Litigation 2018

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Daniel Hochstrasser is a pre-eminent practitioner who draws praise as "an outstanding and highly experienced IP litigator" He also handles a range of matters in other sectors including infrastructure projects and banking.

Biography

Daniel Hochstrasser is the senior partner and 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 licence agreements, particularly in the pharmaceutical field.

In addition, Daniel Hochstrasser is frequently chosen as sole or 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 (such as DIS, VIAC, SCC, LCIA, SIAC, CIETAC and others) and ad hoc 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. He has been a member of the ICC Court of Arbitration, Paris since July 2015.

Daniel Hochstrasser holds a law degree from the University of Zurich and an LLM from Cornell University in the USA. He is a member of the Zurich as well as the Swiss Bar Association, and of the Ethics Court of the Zurich Bar Association. He is fluent in German, English and French.

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 150 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 150 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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