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Martin Wiebecke

Martin Wiebecke

Martin Wiebecke Attorney at LawKohlrainstrasse 10KusnachtZurichSwitzerland8700
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Thought Leader

WWL Ranking: Thought Leader

Questions & Answers

Martin Wiebecke has acted as counsel, sole arbitrator, party-appointed arbitrator and chairman in more than 180 international arbitrations under all major institutions’ rules, as well as ad hoc arbitrations. He also has a mediation practice and an arbitration-related court practice (annulment and execution proceedings). He is admitted to practise in Switzerland, Germany and New York, and before the US Supreme Court. He is fluent in German, English and French and has good knowledge of Portuguese.

WHAT MOTIVATED YOU TO SPECIALISE IN ARBITRATION?

There was no deliberate decision on my part. I had a general practice specialising in corporate and banking litigation. The in-house counsel of a client, a commodity trader, left and I was asked to take over their arbitration cases. Initially I acted mainly as counsel. But in the 1990s, there were not sufficient cases to make a living from arbitration. After some 10 years, I increasingly received appointments as an arbitrator, and these now form the larger part of my practice.

HOW HAS THE ROLE OF ARBITRATOR CHANGED SINCE YOU STARTED YOUR CAREER?

Quite a bit. When I started as arbitrator, the arbitrations were conducted much more efficiently by the parties’ counsel. Except for rare cases there were only substantive arguments. Procedural games were almost unknown and no party counsel would dare to submit a procedural application that is entirely without merit and doomed to fail from the outset. The arbitrations used to be more time-efficient and cost-effective.

WHICH ARBITRATION HAS BEEN YOUR MOST MEMORABLE TO DATE, AND WHY?

It is impossible to single out a specific case. Many stick in the mind for one reason or another. Cases with individual persons or states as a party tend to be more memorable.

WHAT MAKES ARBITRATION AN ATTRACTIVE OPTION FOR COMMERCIAL DISPUTE RESOLUTION?

The main advantage, which has yet to be beaten, is that it provides scope to execute an award under the New York Convention in almost all commercially important countries. Confidentiality remains an important issue for all parties, in particular in IP and IT matters. On top of this, the option to select the arbitrators remains especially relevant for businesspeople who want their arbitrator to be someone they can trust, on account of his or her specific experience and understanding of their industry, even if it is only from the legal viewpoint.

WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN AD HOC AND INSTITUTIONAL ARBITRATIONS WHEN ACTING AS COUNSEL OR ARBITRATOR?

From the counsel’s perspective the constitution of the Arbitral Tribunal may take longer in ad hoc arbitrations when the respondent is obstructive.

In ad hoc arbitrations the arbitrators are usually remunerated at an hourly rate. This leads to a more efficient arbitration as the parties’ counsel know that submitting useless procedural requests will cost their clients higher arbitrator’s fees.

WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT YOUR CURRENT ROLE?

The interaction with co-arbitrators and counsels and parties from different cultural and legal backgrounds, and the mixture of factual findings and legal issues.

IN COMMERCIAL ARBITRATIONS, TO WHAT EXTENT SHOULD PUBLIC INTEREST CONSIDERATIONS BE BALANCED WITH PARTIES’ DESIRES FOR PRIVACY?

I see public interest issues in two essential respects.

First, public interest considerations as to whether due process is guaranteed are less important in international commercial arbitrations as commercial players are involved, and – even though an economic imbalance may exist – both have access to competent professional counsel. The traditional argument of control of the judiciary by the public through access to court hearings, etc, is not a major topic, and rightly so.

Second, as regards the development of substantive law and the tendency nowadays to have commercial disputes resolved by arbitral tribunals instead of state courts, with the tribunals’ awards not being in the public domain, it has to be noted first and foremost that more and more arbitral decisions are now being published. However, for the large majority of awards in commercial arbitration cases, the provisions of the contracts are substantially more relevant than the applicable law. There are thus in any case limits to a substantive body of case law in commercial arbitration. As regards procedural decisions in arbitral proceedings, a number of pertinent publications exist.

In addition, the flight into arbitration, if indeed there is one, is often home-made (eg, when commercial cases take some 10 years to be finally decided in a state judiciary).

WWL Ranking: Thought Leader

Global Leader

Arbitration 2019

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Thought Leader

WWL says

The "excellent" Martin Wiebecke is a distinguished practitioner with a wealth of experience as counsel and arbitrator in large commercial arbitrations.

Biography

Martin Wiebecke is admitted to practise in Switzerland, Germany and New York, and before the US Supreme Court.

He has acted as counsel, sole arbitrator, party-appointed arbitrator or chairman in more than 180 international commercial arbitrations under the rules of the ICC, LCIA, Swiss Chambers, DIS, VIAC (Vienna), Stockholm Institute, AAA, SIAC, MKAS (Moscow), CAS and other institutions, UNCITRAL, and in ad hoc arbitrations.

He also has domestic arbitration and mediation experience, and an arbitration-related court practice (annulment and execution proceedings).

His arbitration experience includes, in particular, mergers and acquisitions, shareholders’ agreements, joint ventures, privatisations, foreign investments, infrastructure and development projects, construction and engineering, automotive, oil and gas, energy and natural resources, mining, pharmaceuticals, life sciences, biotechnology, telecommunications, technology transfer, licence agreements, patents, IP, FRAND, insurance and reinsurance, banking and finance, tax, defence contracts, disputes involving states and public entities and enterprises, agency, distribution, and sale and purchase agreements. He is on the panel of arbitrators of various arbitral institutions (such as ICC, LCIA, VIAC, ICDR/AAA and WIPO).

He was a member of the EU Commission’s expert group on the interface between the Brussels I Regulation (Regulation 44/2001) and arbitration.

He is a frequent speaker at international conferences and seminars and a past chairman of the international sales commission of the International Association of Lawyers.

Martin Wiebecke was educated at the Universities of Freiburg (BA economics, 1979); Geneva, Göttingen (JD, 1983); Basle (lic iur, 1986); and Columbia Law School (LLM, 1984).

He is fluent in German, English and French, and has basic knowledge of Spanish and Portuguese.

National Leader

Switzerland - Arbitration

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

 Martin Wiebecke is a top-class and deeply experienced arbitration specialist who is “great to work with” on complex disputes across a wide array of industries and sectors. Sources "really recommend him as arbitrator".

Biography

Martin Wiebecke is admitted to practise in Switzerland, Germany and New York, and before the US Supreme Court.

He has acted as counsel, sole arbitrator, party-appointed arbitrator and chairman in more than 185 international commercial arbitrations under the rules of the ICC, LCIA, SCAI (Swiss Chambers), DIS, VIAC (Vienna), Stockholm Institute, AAA, SIAC, MKAS (Moscow), CAS and other institutions, UNCITRAL, and in ad hoc arbitrations.

He also has investor-state arbitration, domestic arbitration and mediation experience, and an arbitration-related court practice (annulment and execution proceedings).

His arbitration experience includes, in particular, mergers and acquisitions, shareholders’ agreements, joint ventures, privatisations, foreign investments, infrastructure and development projects, construction and engineering, automotive, oil and gas, energy and natural resources, mining, pharmaceuticals, life sciences, biotechnology, telecommunications, technology transfer, licence agreements, patents, IP, FRAND, insurance and reinsurance, banking and finance, tax, defence contracts, disputes involving states and public entities and enterprises, agency, distribution, and sale and purchase agreements. He is on the panel of arbitrators of various arbitral institutions (such as ICC, LCIA, VIAC, ICDR/AAA and WIPO).

He was a member of the EU Commission’s expert group on the interface between the Brussels I Regulation (Regulation 44/2001) and arbitration.

He is a frequent speaker at international conferences and seminars and a past chairman of the international sales commission of the International Association of Lawyers.

Martin Wiebecke was educated at the Universities of Freiburg (BA economics, 1979); Geneva, Göttingen (JD, 1983); Basel (lic iur, 1986); and Columbia Law School (LLM, 1984).

He is fluent in German, English and French, and has basic knowledge of Spanish and Portuguese.

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