Jodok Wicki enjoys a stellar international reputation for his market-leading work on an array of contentious proceedings, from product liability to insurance claims
Jodok Wicki is managing partner of CMS Switzerland. He has been practising for more than 25 years with a focus on dispute resolution, representing clients in proceedings before state courts and other authorities, and as counsel in international arbitration matters, where he also acts as an arbitrator. Furthermore, he is a Certified Specialist of the Swiss Bar Association for Torts and Insurance Law. Jodok Wicki practises in German, English, French and Italian.
How do you prepare for complex product liability disputes?
A thorough initial analysis is very important. I see establishing the facts and analysing the legal issues of a case as an iterative process. The initial set of facts will allow a first legal assessment, which will then provide leads for further aspects that need to be clarified. An open-minded and constructive exchange within the team will save time and cost, and contribute to reducing exposure.
To what extent are you seeing consolidation in the insurance sector? What impact will this have on the market landscape over the next few years?
While obviously allowing for better economies of scale with benefits regarding cost and internal organisation, consolidation also improves the ability of international insurance groups to write international programs. At the same time, consolidation is reducing capacity, which can contribute to an increase in the premium landscape, which has been very low for an extended period of time in the weak markets we have seen.
If you could implement one reform in international arbitration, what would it be?
It is often the beneficial aspects of international arbitration that present themselves as problematic in other cases, like for instance the flexibility of the proceeding, which may be welcome in some cases but prove difficult in others. This makes the task of the arbitral tribunal to effectively lead the case interesting. Pointing out one specific aspect, therefore, is really difficult in my view. One particularly problematic part is certainly undisclosed interests, which may impair the impartiality of tribunal members and undermine the trust placed in arbitration as a dispute resolution mechanism. While you could consider addressing this by way of increased transparency, the sharing of information required for increasing transparency may run against the need for confidentiality, which can be a key aspect for parties when choosing arbitration.
How are insurance companies addressing the growing number of climate change disasters? How are they affecting the nature of related policies?
Risk models are usually based on historical information, but insurers use extrapolation for prediction of trends. Many changes will be gradual and allow the insurers to adapt their coverage offering and pricing. The risk resulting from climate change must also be considered in the context of the economic development and the growth- and increased density of population and industry in some areas, mainly along coastlines. Weather events and disasters can thereby affect more people, enterprises, infrastructure, and supply chains, which as such can already result in higher losses. It will also be interesting to see how weather risks can potentially affect other policy types, such as D&O, if weather risks will lead companies to sustain major losses, or leave them exposed to climate change litigation.
In your opinion, what will be the long-term effects of the coronavirus pandemic on the insurance industry?
The worldwide impact of the pandemic with shutdowns affecting all continents within a very short period of time was no doubt impressive. I think that we will likely see claims rooting in the pandemic now for several years. At the same time, the pandemic will show or confirm to many the importance of insurance coverage. This could well result in a continued increase in demand for insurance cover.
As managing partner, how are you ensuring that the team is well equipped to handle the wave of work that will result from the coronavirus pandemic?
Our modern IT infrastructure allowed us to continue advising our clients seamlessly during the lock-down period. At the same time, the teams were challenged to develop in their communication and collaboration. I think that the period of forced working from home served as an accelerator of change and will impact positively on the work structures of our firm on a number of levels and will make us more efficient and a stronger team.
What advice would you give to younger lawyers hoping to one day be in your position?
Think ahead, strive to deliver more than expected, and treat others as you would want to be treated. And find the right mix of work-life balance for yourself.
Seasoned practitioner Jodok Wicki is held in high esteem for his meticulous approach to insurance-related dispute resolution.
Jodok Wicki has been advising clients and acting as counsel in litigation and international arbitration for more than 25 years. He is a certified specialist and Swiss Bar Association for torts and insurance law. His vast experience and profound legal understanding allow him to efficiently deal with complex sets of fact and legal issues, both relating to liability and coverage. A claims specialist of a major international insurer stated: “I value Jodok’s legal and strategic thinking. Jodok has an outstanding record of winning litigations.”
Jodok Wicki is practising in Zurich, Switzerland, where he also studied. Earlier in his career he worked as a foreign associate with law firms in New York and Sydney.
In international arbitration proceedings Jodok Wicki is acting as counsel and also sitting as arbitrator. He is on the panels of arbitrators of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), the Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre (HKIAC) and the Pacific International Arbitration Centre (PIAC).
He is a member of the Zurich Bar Association, the Swiss Bar Association and the International Bar Association, the ASA Swiss Arbitration Association and the International Association of Defence Counsel (IADC).
Jodok Wicki is fluent in German, English, French and Italian.