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Nathalie Voser

Nathalie Voser

Schellenberg Wittmer LtdLöwenstrasse 19PO Box 2201ZurichSwitzerland8021
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Thought Leader

WWL Ranking: Thought Leader

Questions & Answers

Nathalie Voser is a partner in Schellenberg Wittmer’s dispute resolution group focusing on arbitration and complex international litigation. She has acted as arbitrator and counsel on record in a vast number of cases. Her areas of specialisation include disputes regarding construction/infrastructure projects, civil engineering and energy-related projects, in particular, oil and gas, including investor-state disputes.

WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO PURSUE A LEGAL CAREER?

The interest in legal issues and my anger when I felt that something was “not just”.

WHAT DO YOU MOST ENJOY ABOUT WORKING IN ARBITRATION?

The fact that it is very international. Arbitration escapes any national boundaries and allows arbitration practitioners to leave their home country, be this temporarily or even permanently. Also I highly appreciate this exposure to foreign legal systems, which is due to the fact that many of my cases as arbitrator are not related to Switzerland or Swiss law.

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

Today, I see the tendency that the arbitrator “shall fix it”. They shall make the procedure shorter, cheaper, more efficient, but – of course – everything with outstanding quality. Proactive arbitrators are today more the rule than the exception, while when I started my career this was not the case.

WHAT MAKES SCHELLENBERG WITTMER STAND OUT FROM ITS COMPETITORS IN THE MARKET?

We are a very international team with very experienced arbitration practitioners. The partners of the team are all outstanding practitioners with high peer recognition.

WHAT ARE THE MOST SIGNIFICANT TRENDS YOU ARE SEEING IN ARBITRATION AT THE MOMENT? WHICH SECTORS ARE THE BUSIEST?

I think that the oil and gas sector is very busy. This might have something to do with the fact that the contracts concluded by many investors in foreign countries are around 20 years old and in need of termination or adaptation. I have been appointed in such areas myself. However, due to the confidential nature of arbitration and the limited insight into other cases, there might be other areas where it is very active. This is certainly the case for the construction arbitration sector. Here I see more disputes in the Middle East.

HOW DO YOU SEE YOUR PRACTICE DEVELOPING OVER THE NEXT FIVE YEARS?

The arbitration community will have to continue exploring means to conduct arbitrations more cost-efficiently for the benefit of the parties. The “Prague Rules” is a token of this trend. Due to cost and time reasons I see more parties settling the case very early in the arbitration.

LOOKING BACK OVER YOUR CAREER, WHAT IS THE MOST INTERESTING ARBITRATION YOU HAVE BEEN A PART OF?

This is probably a case, decided by an award in 2018, that became public and concerned a dispute over the construction of a water conveyance system in Jordan by a Turkish contractor. The case had also non-legal aspects rooted in the Jordanian culture.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO SOMEONE LOOKING TO START OUT IN THE PRACTICE AREA?

The participation at the VIS Moot during university years is a good and useful experience! Then I think that the best start is to work as an administrative secretary to experienced arbitrators and to join an arbitration team in an international law firm.

WWL Ranking: Thought Leader

Questions & Answers

Nathalie Voser is a partner in Schellenberg Wittmer’s dispute resolution group, focusing on arbitration and complex international litigation. She has acted as arbitrator and counsel on record in a vast number of cases. Nathalie’s areas of specialisation include disputes regarding construction/infrastructure projects, civil engineering and energy-related projects in particular oil and gas, including investor-state disputes.

What do you enjoy most about working in arbitration?

Every dispute is different. One reason I enjoy my work so much is that with every case, I dive into another “world” and learn something new. This also includes cases in the industries in which I already have substantial experience. Furthermore, arbitration is probably the most international area of law. In my cases as arbitrator, regularly other laws than Swiss law apply, and/or the seat is not in Switzerland. I always find it fascinating to see how other legal systems work. Finally, I feel very privileged to be able to work with very talented associates in our counsel cases or experienced co-arbitrators when I sit as arbitrator.

How does your experience as a lecturer enhance your work in construction arbitration?

I have to always be on top of the legal issues I teach, which means keeping myself proactively informed on new developments in arbitration, construction law and contract law in general. This without a doubt helps me in my construction cases as counsel or arbitrator.

How has the legal competition changed since you first started practising?

The competition in the legal field is increasingly saturated. In general, legal advice and representation is considered today more of a commodity than a specialist field. In-house legal departments seem to be less committed to the use of one law firm when previously they used to return due to a basic relationship of trust. For each case, parties will typically start a new selection process to find the counsel of their liking in terms of expertise and costs.

You recently wrote on the issue of the Paris court’s approach to arbitrator impartiality. What implications does the case have for the arbitration practice more generally?

I think that law firms (also smaller and medium-size law firms) will have to review their conflict-check systems and professionalise it if necessary. Often, it is not in the hands of the arbitrator but in the hands of other partners of the same law firm to record all relevant parties and entities in their cases. Otherwise, the prospective arbitrator – without it being his or her fault – will not be able to disclose possibly relevant circumstances. I also believe that more and more arbitrators will start to leave their current law firms to continue working as solo practitioners (also) in order to reduce the risks involved regarding conflicts.

What makes Schellenberg Wittmer stand out from competitors in the market?

Having dealt with construction arbitration cases for over a decade, ie, also during a time when other firms did not yet have a dedicated construction team, we have gained a vast amount of experience. Furthermore, Schellenberg Wittmer is one of only two Swiss-based firms that handles international arbitrations on a truly global scale across large, multi-jurisdictional disputes, with lawyers highly specialised in various industries including construction. We also have substantial experience in handling complex international arbitrations seated in common law and civil law jurisdictions, involving an array of applicable law. Finally, we are also the only Swiss law firm able to offer international arbitration services to global clients from our base in Singapore.

Are there geographical regions that you see as growing in importance for the construction arbitration market and why?

We see more cases in Asia, in particular, Singapore and Hong Kong. This is due to the high number of investments and construction activities in this area, and also because these centres have caught up with Europe in terms of arbitration laws and arbitration experience. This was one of the reasons our firm decided to open an office in Singapore.

What has been the most interesting arbitration you have been a part of in your career so far?

Each case I have worked on has had interesting aspects! However, for various reasons, the arbitration involving Jordan regarding a water conveyance system and well field was so far probably the most interesting one. You may refer to my involvement on this case here.

What advice would you give to younger practitioners hoping to one day be in your position?

Participating at the VIS Moot during university studies as well as a dedicated lecture in arbitration in a master program is a good basis. Also, I personally learnt a lot when assisting experienced arbitrators. Institutions make the first-time appointments, and generally speaking, would take such experiences into account.

WWL Ranking: Thought Leader
WWL Ranking: Thought Leader

Questions & Answers

Nathalie Voser is a partner in Schellenberg Wittmer’s dispute resolution group focusing on arbitration and complex international litigation. She has acted as arbitrator and counsel on record in a vast number of cases. Her areas of specialisation include disputes regarding construction/infrastructure projects, civil engineering and energy-related projects, in particular, oil and gas, including investor-state disputes.

WHAT MOTIVATED YOU TO SPECIALISE IN INTERNATIONAL ARBITRATION?

The fact that this is an area with a highly international aspect to it. Today, most of my cases as arbitrator are not related to Switzerland or Swiss law, and I highly appreciate this exposure to foreign legal systems. In other words, although law is usually perceived as something domestic, arbitration escapes any national boundaries and allows arbitration practitioners to leave their home country, be this temporarily or even permanently. 

A NUMBER OF FIRMS HAVE TAKEN STEPS TO STRENGTHEN THEIR CAPABILITIES IN INTERNATIONAL ARBITRATION. IS THIS HAVING ANY IMPACT ON THE FIELD?

As there are more and more law firms offering the same service in relation to arbitration, the competition to represent a party involved in a (potential) arbitration is today much higher than it was 10 years ago. 

HOW HAS YOUR WORK AND EXPERIENCE AS COUNSEL IMPACTED YOUR APPROACH TO PROCEEDINGS WHEN ACTING AS ARBITRATOR?

I tend to be more understanding with counsel and their usually very high workload, and would not impose too-tight time limits if it is not warranted by the case itself. However, the impact of acting as arbitrator has more effect on my work as counsel, since I can understand better what arbitrators expect and want. 

YOU ARE WIDELY RESPECTED FOR YOUR STRONG EXPERTISE HANDLING CONSTRUCTION, ENGINEERING AND ENERGY DISPUTES. HOW IMPORTANT IS SECTOR AND INDUSTRY-RELATED SPECIALISATION ON THE PART OF THE ARBITRATOR?  

Some issues in these areas are very technical and particular, and it is normally not something one can learn in law school. It is advantageous for the parties if an arbitrator is able to draw upon previous experiences regarding the same or related issues, as he or she will understand the problems at stake quicker and better. For example, to have previously dealt with a natural resources production-sharing agreement between an investor and a host state is helpful for further cases. 

MANY SOURCES HAVE HIGHLIGHTED THE GROWTH AND CONSOLIDATION OF THE YOUNG ARBITRATION COMMUNITY OVER THE PAST FEW YEARS. WHAT WOULD YOU SAY IS DRIVING THE GROWING INTEREST FROM YOUNGER PRACTITIONERS LOOKING TO SPECIALISE IN THE FIELD?

In the age of globalisation the interest in international areas is very high, and thus I think that the factors that drive the growing interest are still the same that brought me to arbitration. 

SOURCES HAVE ALSO NOTED THE GROWING IMPORTANCE OF THIRD-PARTY FUNDING IN ARBITRATION PROCEEDINGS. WHAT WOULD YOU SAY ARE THE MAIN ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES TO THE RISE IN THIS ALTERNATIVE SOURCE OF FINANCING?  

The advantage is that parties who cannot afford to have access to arbitration because of cost reasons now potentially can. If it is well structured and transparent to the tribunal (ie, the disclosure obligation is respected) I do not see any particular downside. 

SINCE YOU BEGAN YOUR CAREER, WHAT HAS BEEN THE BIGGEST CHANGE YOU HAVE SEEN IN RELATION TO THE WAY THAT ARBITRATION PROCEEDINGS ARE CONDUCTED?

The time it takes to conclude the arbitration and in particular to render an award. This is today much shorter and the sense of responsibility towards the parties in this regard is much higher. 

WHERE, IN YOUR OPINION, DOES THE FUTURE OF THE PRACTICE AREA LIE?

We will continue to explore means to conduct arbitrations quicker and more cost-efficiently for the benefit of the parties. The challenge will be to maintain quality; the fastest decision is not necessarily also the best decision.

Global Leader

Arbitration 2019

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Thought Leader

WWL says

Nathalie Voser has an excellent reputation in the construction and energy sectors, with peers lauding her as "one of Switzerland's brightest stars". She is “well known for her counsel work” and also stands out as a top-tier arbitrator.

Biography

Nathalie Voser is a partner in Schellenberg Wittmer’s dispute resolution group in Zürich. She has acted as counsel and arbitrator in a large number of cases. Her practice focuses on contracts regarding construction, civil engineering and energy-related projects, oil and gas projects, research and development, distribution and licence agreements, joint ventures as well as mergers and acquisitions.

Nathalie's recent expertise in arbitration includes acting Swiss counsel to a Hungarian energy and gas company in the setting aside proceedings before the Swiss Supreme Court; representing a German construction company alongside its Dutch consortium partner in ICC arbitration against a Polish shipyard operator in a dispute over a contract regarding the delivery of technical equipment for a specialty ship; and acting as arbitrator in a UNCITRAL arbitration facing an investor and a state in a contractual oil and gas dispute under a production sharing contract.

Among other positions, Nathalie is currently a vice president of the London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA) and a board member of the Swiss Arbitration Association.

In 1988, Nathalie graduated summa cum laude from the University of Basel and was admitted to the Swiss Bar in 1990. In 1992, she became a juris doctor summa cum laude and in 1994 she earned an LLM with honours from Columbia University, New York. In 2014, she was awarded the title of professor in private law, arbitration law, private international law and comparative law by the University of Basel, where she regularly teaches courses in commercial arbitration and other areas of Swiss private law. She has published a leading textbook in arbitration and numerous articles in the area of dispute resolution.

Construction 2019

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Global Elite Thought Leader

WWL says

Nathalie Voser ranks among the elite construction arbitration specialists in Switzerland this year, with sources calling her "exceptionally well versed in any type of construction dispute".

Biography

Nathalie Voser is a partner in Schellenberg Wittmer's dispute resolution group in Zürich. She has acted as counsel and arbitrator in a vast number of cases and has advised clients involved in complex multi-jurisdictional disputes before state courts. Her practice focuses on contracts regarding construction, civil engineering and energy-related projects, oil and gas production projects, research and development, distribution and licence agreements, joint ventures as well as mergers and acquisitions. Nathalie is well known for her expertise in the construction, (renewable) power production, oil and gas, pharmaceutical and automotive industries.

Nathalie's recent construction and engineering expertise in litigation includes the representation of an Emirian company in arbitration against an Austrian company in a dispute in relation to the construction of a desalination plant in the United Arab Emirates; and representation of a German construction company alongside its Dutch consortium partner in ICC arbitration against a Polish shipyard operator. She is currently appointed as arbitrator in a number of construction and engineering cases.

Nathalie is currently a vice president of the London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA) and a board member of the Swiss Arbitration Association. She is a Swiss delegate in the ICC Arbitration and ADR Commission in Paris.

In 1988, Nathalie graduated summa cum laude from the University of Basel and was admitted to the Swiss Bar in 1990. In 1994 she earned an LLM with honours from Columbia University, New York. In 2014, she was awarded the title of professor in private law, arbitration law, private international law and comparative law by the University of Basel.

Litigation 2018

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Nathalie Voser is a go-to lawyer who is known for her strong expertise in infrastructure project disputes.

Biography

Nathalie Voser is a partner in Schellenberg Wittmer's dispute resolution group in Zürich. She has acted as counsel and arbitrator in a large number of cases and has advised clients involved in complex multi-jurisdictional disputes before state courts. She also regularly represents parties before Swiss Courts in arbitration related matters. Her practice focuses on contracts regarding construction, civil engineering and energy-related projects, oil and gas production projects, research and development, distribution and license agreements, joint ventures as well as mergers and acquisitions. Nathalie is well known for her expertise in the construction, power production, oil and gas, pharmaceutical and automotive industries.

Nathalie's recent expertise in litigation includes being Swiss lead counsel to a Hungarian energy and gas company in the setting aside proceedings before the Swiss Supreme Court; representation of an Emirian company in arbitration against an Austrian company in a dispute in relation to the construction of a desalination plant in the United Arab Emirates; and representation of a German construction company alongside its Dutch consortium partner in ICC arbitration against a Polish shipyard operator.

Nathalie is currently a vice president of the London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA) and a board member of the Swiss Arbitration Association. She is a Swiss delegate in the ICC Arbitration and ADR Commission in Paris.

In 1988, Nathalie graduated summa cum laude from the University of Basel and was admitted to the Swiss Bar in 1990. In 1994 she earned an LLM with honours from Columbia University, New York. In 2014, she was awarded the title of professor in private law, arbitration law, private international law and comparative law by the University of Basel.

National Leader

Switzerland - Arbitration

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Nathalie Voser continues to be regarded as an “obvious inclusion” in the listings and is equally well regarded by sources for her work as arbitrator and counsel. She offers a broad array of industry expertise covering energy, construction and distribution agreements among other matters.

Biography

Nathalie Voser is a partner in Schellenberg Wittmer's dispute resolution group in Zürich. She has acted as counsel and arbitrator in a vast number of cases. Nathalie Voser is well known for her expertise in the construction industry, (renewable) power production, oil and gas (production sharing agreements), pharmaceutical and automotive industries. Her experience includes commercial and investor-state disputes.

Nathalie's recent expertise in arbitration includes acting Swiss counsel to a Hungarian energy and gas company in the setting aside proceedings before the Swiss Supreme Court; representing a German construction company alongside its Dutch consortium partner in ICC arbitration against a Polish shipyard operator in a dispute over a contract regarding the delivery of technical equipment for a specialty ship.

Among other positions, Nathalie is currently a vice president of the London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA) and a board member of the Swiss Arbitration Association.

In 1988, Nathalie graduated summa cum laude from the University of Basel and was admitted to the Swiss Bar in 1990. In 1992, she became a juris doctor summa cum laude and in 1994 she earned an LLM with honours from Columbia University, New York. In 2014, she was awarded the title of professor in private law, arbitration law, private international law and comparative law by the University of Basel, where she regularly teaches courses in commercial arbitration and other areas of Swiss private law. She has published a leading textbook in arbitration and numerous articles in the area of dispute resolution.

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Nathalie Voser is a distinguished arbitration specialist in the construction field. She has significant experience acting as both counsel and arbitrator in a variety of multi-jurisdictional disputes.

Biography

Nathalie Voser is a partner in Schellenberg Wittmer's dispute resolution group in Zürich. She has acted as counsel and arbitrator in a vast number of cases and has advised clients involved in complex multi-jurisdictional disputes before state courts. Her practice focuses on contracts regarding construction, civil engineering and energy-related projects, oil and gas production projects, research and development, distribution and licence agreements, joint ventures as well as mergers and acquisitions. Nathalie is well known for her expertise in the construction, (renewable) power production, oil and gas, pharmaceutical and automotive industries.

Nathalie's recent construction and engineering expertise in litigation includes the representation of an Emirian company in arbitration against an Austrian company in a dispute in relation to the construction of a desalination plant in the United Arab Emirates; and representation of a German construction company alongside its Dutch consortium partner in ICC arbitration against a Polish shipyard operator. She is currently appointed as arbitrator in a number of construction and engineering cases.

Nathalie is currently a vice president of the London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA) and a board member of the Swiss Arbitration Association. She is a Swiss delegate in the ICC Arbitration and ADR Commission in Paris.

In 1988, Nathalie graduated summa cum laude from the University of Basel and was admitted to the Swiss Bar in 1990. In 1994 she earned an LLM with honours from Columbia University, New York. In 2014, she was awarded the title of professor in private law, arbitration law, private international law and comparative law by the University of Basel.

Switzerland - Litigation

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Nathalie Voser is “a very well-known dispute resolution lawyer” with impressive experience in large, cross-border disputes. Peers say, “She is dogmatically thorough,” and she enjoys an excellent reputation for her work in the energy and construction sector.

Biography

Nathalie Voser is a partner in Schellenberg Wittmer's dispute resolution group in Zürich. She has acted as counsel and arbitrator in a large number of cases and has advised clients involved in complex multi-jurisdictional disputes before state courts. Her practice focuses on contracts regarding construction, civil engineering and energy-related projects, oil and gas production projects, research and development, distribution and license agreements, joint ventures as well as mergers and acquisitions. Nathalie is well known for her expertise in the construction, power production, oil and gas, pharmaceutical and automotive industries.

Nathalie's recent expertise in litigation includes being Swiss lead counsel to a Hungarian energy and gas company in the setting aside proceedings before the Swiss Supreme Court. She has been advising a Swiss entrepreneur in complex criminal civil multi-jurisdictional litigation before Italian state courts for many years.

In 1988, Nathalie graduated summa cum laude from the University of Basel and was admitted to the Swiss Bar in 1990. In 1994 she earned an LLM with honours from Columbia University, New York. In 2014, she was awarded the title of professor in private law, arbitration law, private international law and comparative law by the University of Basel.

Awards won by Nathalie Voser

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