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Who's Who Legal
Who's Who Legal
Thought Leaders

Thought Leaders

Thought Leader

WWL Ranking: Thought Leader

Peers and clients say

"He is the top choice as an arbitrator in the German market"
"He is extremely experienced; very enthusiastic with a professional attitude"
"Experienced arbitrator with good case handling skills"
"An incredibly experienced arbitrator"

Questions & Answers

Jan Heiner Nedden is managing partner of HANEFELD. Heiner acts as arbitrator and as counsel in national and international arbitration proceedings. He also acts as a DAB member and mediator. His arbitrator track record exceeds 75 cases. Heiner is featured in JUVE’s lists of Germany’s 30 most renown arbitration counsel and arbitrators. Before joining HANEFELD, Heiner headed one of the ICC Court’s case management teams in Paris. He speaks German, English and French.

What do clients look for in an effective arbitrator and counsel?

In my view, effectiveness does not mean that as counsel, you should blindly push for your client’s case or that, as arbitrator, you should focus on having the party who appointed you prevail. Effectiveness encompasses diligence, respect for the law and your colleagues, including opposing counsel, and high ethical standards. An “effective” counsel will try to resolve the dispute in a manner that makes most sense from the business perspective, whether it means settlement or arbitration.  

What inspired you to focus your practice on international arbitration?

The international aspect of arbitration is what initially attracted me and what I still cherish. Every arbitration case I am involved in is unique and different, irrespective of whether I act as counsel or as arbitrator. There is always an opportunity to look over the edge of the plate of your own jurisdiction, culture and legal standards. You can learn from your colleagues from abroad, question the approaches you have learnt or always followed. Each time you are member of an arbitral tribunal, you will have the benefit of looking at things from a different angel. I particularly enjoy the challenge of having to deal with legal norms or systems I am not trained in, sharing and discussing views with foreign colleagues and learning about how others apply the law, handle procedural aspects, and what they focus on in a given case in terms of advocacy. To make a long story short: international arbitration will never become boring, even after years of practice. 

Since you began your career, what has been the biggest change you have seen in relation to the way that arbitration proceedings are conducted?

Proceedings have become increasingly complex and litigious. I sometimes wish, and I hope to stick to this standard myself, that counsel and arbitrators would more often simply apply common and commercial sense rather than second guess arguments and argue the three possible legal alternatives in favour of one’s opinion.

To what extent should more be done to improve the transparency of arbitration proceedings?

We have seen important steps to improve transparency in the past years. For example, the ICC has, with its various initiatives, contributed to this improvement, for example through the approach taken to disclosures and the publication of information regarding arbitral tribunals. I think there is still room for improvement not so much in terms of strict transparency considerations but in terms of establishing arbitral case law, both on the substantive and procedural level. There are thousands of unpublished excellent awards and procedural orders dealing with important and pertinent legal issues as well as commercially highly relevant industry standards and issues. It would be great if more case law was made available to provide a broader basis for future arguments and decision making.  

How efficient have online proceedings become since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, and what long-term effects do you see covid-19 having on arbitration practice?

Conducting meetings remotely with clients, witnesses or experts, as well as deliberations among arbitrators, hearings etc. has proven very beneficial. It is obvious that where appropriate and necessary, significant savings in terms of travel time and expenses can be realised through online proceedings. Moreover, the community has overall very quickly adapted to the “new (virtual) reality” and, by drawing from first experiences, tailored virtual proceedings and addressed the related challenges in a highly professional and efficient manner. They have become, in many instances, a very appropriate alternative to physical meetings.

If you could implement one reform in international arbitration, what would it be?

There are probably many that currently escape my attention or pool of ideas. But one would be to make arbitration greener. The new virtual reality has pushed things in the right direction in this respect. I think there is a lot of room for improvement to make arbitration and everything that comes with it more sustainable and ecologically sound.

What steps can younger arbitration practitioners take to improve their chances of getting appointments? Is there an important role to play here for experienced lawyers?

I believe that it is essential to share one’s experience and push younger colleagues into the first row wherever and whenever possible. All members of my firm teach arbitration at universities or conferences dedicated to the younger generation. We also have interns from all over the world. From day one at the firm, they get involved in the cases and learn arbitration not from books but by being active team members. My advice to any aspiring arbitration practitioner would be to undertake as many internships in as many different firms, institutions, companies and countries as possible, and to try to connect worldwide. The new virtual reality makes this easier than ever.

What is the best piece of advice have you ever received?

That is difficult to say because it obviously depends on the context. But I once received a compliment (at least I perceived it as one) from a colleague who said: “Heiner, you are always so wonderfully authentic.” If I translate this into advice that I would give, then I would say: be yourself and remain open to learn from others. 

Global Leader

Arbitration 2021

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Recommended

Peers and clients say

"He is the top choice as an arbitrator in the German market"
"He is extremely experienced; very enthusiastic with a professional attitude"
"Experienced arbitrator with good case handling skills"
"An incredibly experienced arbitrator"


Jan Heiner Nedden is Managing Partner of HANEFELD, a leading boutique dispute resolution firm with offices in Hamburg, Germany, and Paris, France.

Heiner frequently acts as chairman, sole arbitrator and co-arbitrator in international and domestic arbitrations, including disputes involving state entities and sovereign states. He also acts as a DAB member and mediator. In addition to the numerous cases in which Heiner has represented the interests of clients, his arbitrator track record contains more than 70 international and domestic cases involving post-M&A, energy, construction and infrastructure, distribution and agency, and machine building disputes. Heiner’s experience in this regard includes acting as arbitrator in both institutional (inter alia ICC, SCC, DIS, Voldgiftsinstituttet (DIA), VIAC, WIPO) and ad hoc arbitrations in a variety of jurisdictions (inter alia, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France, Denmark, Sweden, Romania) and under various substantive laws (inter alia Armenia, Austria, China, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Israel, Luxemburg, Romania, Sweden, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Qatar, the UAE and the U.S.).

Heiner represents clients before arbitral tribunals and in enforcement proceedings. In addition, Heiner regularly serves as party-appointed expert in proceedings before foreign courts, including in large scale finance disputes. The exceptional quality of Heiner’s work has been acknowledged in several domestic and international rankings, and he is figured in JUVE’s list of Germany’s most renowned arbitrators, a ranking that contains less than 30 individuals, as well as in JUVE’s list of Germany’s most renowned counsel in arbitration, a ranking that contains just 20 individuals.

Prior to joining Hanefeld in 2011, Heiner served as Counsel at the ICC International Court of Arbitration in Paris for seven years, during which time he was in charge of the case management of over 1000 arbitrations and the scrutiny of some 500 arbitral awards.

Heiner is a trained mediator. He is co-editor and co-author of the German language standard practitioner’s commentary on the 2012 ICC-Rules/1998 DIS-Rules (Dr. Otto Schmidt-Verlag Köln, 2014). Heiner is an appointed member of the ICC Commission on Arbitration and ADR and the Dispute Resolution Committee of the Voldgiftsinstituttet. He is fluent in English, German and French.

Heiner’s professional background goes hand in hand with the international focus and practice of HANEFELD. The unique background and experience of the firm’s lawyers ensures that clients benefit from a particularly profound knowledge and familiarity with the perspective of parties’ counsel, arbitrators and mediators, as well as that of arbitral institutions. HANEFELD’s expertise encompasses commercial and investment arbitration. In 2017, HANEFELD received the prestigious JUVE Award for “Law Firm of the year” for Dispute Resolution in Germany and has been distinguished as having “become a benchmark […] with the scope and number of international arbitrations handled by the Hanefeld team as arbitrators or counsel [being] rather comparable to that of big law firms than boutique firms.” The opening of the firm’s Paris office in 2020 reflects the firm’s noteworthy involvement in high profile international commercial and treaty-based cases.        

National Leader

WWL Ranking: Recommended
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