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Thought Leader

WWL Ranking: Thought Leader

Peers and clients say

"A senior figure and certainly an excellent practitioner"
"He has outstanding professional skills"
"A strong counsel"
"He is well established in commercial matters"

Questions & Answers

Daniel Hochstrasser focuses on representing parties in complex disputes arising from M&A transactions, industrial and infrastructure projects, banking and finance and licence agreements, particularly in the pharmaceutical field. He is frequently chosen as arbitrator in large international disputes – party-appointed or as president of the Tribunal. Daniel has published and lectured on arbitration and litigation in Switzerland and abroad, and is a lecturer at the University of Zurich. Since July 2015, he is a member of the ICC Court of Arbitration, and since 2021 one of its vice-presidents. He holds law degrees from the University of Zurich and from Cornell University in the USA.

What do clients look for in an effective arbitrator?

What a party should look for, both in a counsel and arbitrator, are three elements: knowledge, experience, and dedication. Experience is, among other things, a function of age; however, what is equally important is availability and the dedication to actually handle the case and be involved. For an arbitrator, preparation for the hearing and efficient handling of procedural decisions are key qualities that an appointment should take into account. An important factor is the role that the arbitrator can play within the tribunal: will he be respected and listened to by his colleagues? You do not want to appoint an arbitrator who blindly supports your position – this could even have an adverse effect.

How effective are virtual hearings and arbitration proceedings compared to their in-person alternative? Do you see them becoming the ‘new normal’?

The quality and effectiveness of remote hearings in arbitration has improved significantly thanks to the growing familiarity of arbitrators and counsel with the technology used. In particular, everybody has learnt how to position cameras and microphones in order to make themselves heard and seen. On the other hand, remote hearings are and will remain two dimensional – ie, one can hear and see people’s faces and upper bodies, but misses other elements such as body language. In addition, one is only focused on the person actually speaking, and cannot easily take note of the reaction of other participants. It is a clear disadvantage, for instance, for counsel who cross-examine a witness, if they cannot easily detect the reactions of the arbitral tribunal to specific statements. 

I do believe that remote hearings will become the “new normal” for procedural hearings (such as case management conferences), but not for longer hearings on the merits of a dispute. 

What further steps can be taken to ensure that arbitration professionals are more comfortable using arbitration hosting platforms and other technology increasingly used in proceedings?

The key is to practise the use of the tools and the availability of professional equipment. A full hearing conducted remotely should always be managed by a specialist, an IT technician or other person intimately familiar with the technology and software used for the hearing. It certainly cannot be the responsibility of the president of the tribunal to manage the hearing technology; this would detract from his main task in an unacceptable manner. 

Have you seen many covid-19-related disputes enter the arbitration space, or do you mainly see them in litigation? Why might this be, and how may it change?

So far, the main effect of covid-19 on the substance of disputes is that parties claim that performance of a contractual obligation was made impossible or overly burdensome as a consequence of the coronavirus pandemic. I expect to see more of those cases, and it will be interesting to see how the law will develop under the various legal systems and applicable theories (force majeure, clausula rebus sic stantibus, hardship and others). 

What professional challenges are you anticipating to encounter in 2021, and how do you intend to navigate them?

I am rather optimistic that the legal profession is well equipped to deal with the situation we face in 2021. Law firms such as ours have done their homework and are able to handle the likely challenges. It continues to be important to react quickly to new developments and be ready to take firm decisions if they become necessary.

What challenges and opportunities does virtual working present to lawyers for networking and training?

One of the major changes is that it has become almost impossible to meet and connect with lawyers for networking purposes. The informality of discussions at conferences and seminars has been totally lost. For training, this is less dramatic. Webinars and other net-based events are a relatively good alternative and have become increasingly helpful. 

What do you enjoy most about your role as co-head of Bär & Karrer’s arbitration practice?

I am proud that in my firm, we have been able to develop our disputes practice from two or three partners and a few associates in 1993, when I joined, to 20 partners and 30 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.

I plan to continue to represent 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.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

In addition to training in a law firm, try to also work 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 then be followed by some time abroad, either studying at an Anglo-Saxon university or 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 says

Sources praise Daniel Hochstrasser’s expertise in handling a wide range of commercial disputes, notably for pharmaceutical clients.

Questions & Answers

Daniel Hochstrasser focuses on representing parties in complex disputes arising from M&A transactions, industrial and infrastructure projects, banking and finance, and licence agreements, particularly in the pharmaceutical field. He is frequently chosen as arbitrator in large international disputes – party-appointed or as president of the tribunal. 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 law degrees from the University of Zurich and from Cornell University in the USA.

You have been involved in many high-profile disputes over the years – what do you enjoy most about being a litigator in large cases?

Even after 30 years of being involved in litigations as party representative, I am still fascinated by the intellectual challenge every case presents. Quite often, complex cases are like chess games, where you have to anticipate, before you make a move, how the other side will react, and what you will then do. In that sense, litigation is never just the purely technical execution of logical steps, but always entails an element of strategy and intuition. My aim is to achieve more than one initially expects. It is difficult to win a bad case, but you can certainly try to obtain a result that exceeds reasonable expectations. 

How does your practice as an arbitrator complement your practice as a litigator?

Acting as counsel (in litigation or arbitration) 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 to sit as an arbitrator and to try to grasp the facts and issues in order 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, to frame the best possible arguments, cross-examine witnesses without mercy, and the attempt 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 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 adjustments have you made as a firm in response to the coronavirus pandemic?

We were well prepared for the first lockdown in Switzerland because we had anticipated that home working for everybody would become the rule and made sure that all our lawyers and assistants were provided with the necessary equipment. As a result, the transition to (partial or full) working from home went relatively smoothly. It was interesting to note how quickly people adapted to the new situation, even those who did not necessarily have the biggest affinity to remote access and videoconferencing tools. 

What developments in the Swiss market do practitioners from other jurisdictions need to be aware of?

The Swiss market is relatively mature, with a stable legal environment in both litigation and arbitration, and a large number of well-established large, mid-size and boutique firms who compete with each other. The applicable laws are regularly and steadily improved and adapted; most recently, there were minor adjustments to the rules applicable to arbitration (which are contained in the 12th Chapter of the Private International Law Act), and there are ongoing discussions on revisions of the cost regime for litigation (court fees have risen to a level which is no longer considered acceptable). 

Do you think litigation is in danger of becoming less relevant in big law firms?

Absolutely not! It is my firm conviction that a well-developed dispute resolution practice is and will remain an essential part of a full-service commercial law firm. The increasing regulation and complexity of business as well as fierce competition in the market will guarantee the need for lawyers who are able to represent their clients in all sorts of litigious situations. It would be naive to assume that all of a sudden participants in commercial activities would stop getting into situations where their interests clash and where solutions need to be found. 

Where in your opinion does the future of litigation lie? 

As mentioned, the types of disputes become more diverse, so it is essential that a firm has litigators who have the broad experience necessary to be able to handle all of those. Some of the smaller cases might be handled more quickly and efficiently, whereas “bet the company” disputes will continue to be fought with a lot of effort and investment. 

You have enjoyed a very successful career so far. Is there anything else that you would like to accomplish that you have not yet achieved?

I am proud that, in my firm, we have been able to develop our disputes practice from two or three partners and a few associates in 1993, when I joined, to 20 partners and 30 associates, all of whom are recognised in the market for their skills. We are consistently ranked among the leading dispute resolution firms in Switzerland and Europe, both in terms of strength of our team and the outstanding quality of our individuals.

My plan is to further strengthen the disputes group in our firm, allowing younger colleagues to get a wider exposure to case work as well as to 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. I plan to continue to represent 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.

WWL says

Daniel Hochstrasser is a “senior figure” and a “tough counsel”, with “very direct and broad experience”.

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 it 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. As a consequence of covid-19, a home office has become a firm part of our routine, and investments we made in the necessary tools have paid off.

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 12 partners and 30 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 2021

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Recommended

Peers and clients say

"A senior figure and certainly an excellent practitioner"
"He has outstanding professional skills"
"A strong counsel"
"He is well established in commercial matters"

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 major 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 2020

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Daniel Hochstrasser is an “impressive professional and counsel” whose stellar work includes representing parties in complex disputes arising from M&A transactions, infrastructure projects, and banking and finance issues.

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. 

Recently, he secured a widely reported win before the Swiss Supreme Court for Deutsche Telekom against India in an investment dispute. He is presently representing an international insurance broker in a complex international and multi-jurisdictional dispute between various insurance and re-insurance companies. 

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 major 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 2021

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Daniel Hochstrasser receives wide-ranging recommendations for his adept handling of multi-party arbitrations in complex M&A, finance and industrial 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 major 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 2021

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Sources praise Daniel Hochstrasser’s expertise in handling a wide range of commercial disputes, notably for pharmaceutical clients.

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. 

Recently, he secured a widely reported win before the Swiss Supreme Court for Deutsche Telekom against India in an investment dispute. He is presently representing an international insurance broker in a complex international and multi-jurisdictional dispute between various insurance and re-insurance companies. 

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 major 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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