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Thought Leaders

Thought Leaders

Rouven F Bodenheimer

Rouven F Bodenheimer

Bodenheimer HerzbergTorhaus Gerling QuartierVon-Werth-Str. 2CologneGermany50670

Thought Leader

WWL Ranking: Thought Leader

Questions & Answers

Rouven has significant experience in both institutional and ad hoc arbitration, as well as dispute adjudication and mediation. Outside Europe, he has been involved in many domestic and international arbitration cases in Asia and the Middle East, both as counsel and arbitrator. He is a professor for international law in Germany and still lectures on mediation and international arbitration at two prestigious German universities. He is co-founder of BODENHEIMER HERZBERG, a law firm specialising in international dispute resolution.

WHICH HAS BEEN YOUR MOST INTERESTING CASE TO DATE, AND WHY?

To identify the most interesting case is very difficult. What makes cases specifically interesting for me are certain aspects that can be found in many of my cases: the involvement of different legal cultures that requires both an interpersonal and a legal understanding of different backgrounds and expectations. As counsel I have enjoyed, in the recent past, acting with foreign colleagues in complex disputes: the colleagues taking care of the foreign applicable law, me handling the procedural aspects of the arbitration.

IN WHAT WAYS HAS YOUR MEDIATION EXPERTISE ENHANCED YOUR ARBITRATION PRACTICE?

Serving as a mediator in a dispute trains your ability to listen and give importance to every little aspect of the story, in order to catch potential room for compromises that the parties can make without feeling that their expectations are undermined. This enhanced my arbitration practice – in both my arbitrator and counsel capacities. In my capacity as arbitrator, this contributed to my fair judgement skills in terms of the factual backgrounds of legal disputes. Further, it is a priceless skill to successfully operate within the mini-cosmos of the Arbitral Tribunal itself. When acting as counsel, on the other hand, I tend to look for, and in most of the cases manage to see, the counter party’s real expectations and compromise points, which, to the extent favourable to our client, eases the way to settle a dispute.

WHAT HAS BEEN THE MOST REWARDING ASPECT OF A CAREER IN SUCH AN INTERNATIONAL DISCIPLINE? ARE THERE ANY COUNTRIES OR REGIONS YOU PARTICULARLY ENJOY ARBITRATING IN?

I get to travel a lot, see different countries, and know different cultures in a fast-track manner. From Denmark to Malaysia, I enjoy every country I arbitrate in. The most rewarding aspect is seeing so many cultural differences and ideally getting feedback that you are able to adapt to these very different expectations and challenges. Overall, I feel the international exposure ensures a personal and eternal learning process.

LAST YEAR YOU HIGHLIGHTED THE LACK OF DIVERSITY IN ARBITRATION PRACTICE TO US AS A PROBLEM. IN WHAT WAYS IS THIS BEING ADDRESSED BY THE ARBITRATION COMMUNITY?

Arbitration practitioners have been educating each other about this problem in seminars and conferences, signing pledges to enhance diversity. I observe that as time goes by, young and female practitioners are given more and more opportunity to get speaking engagements and sit as arbitrators. We in our firm explicitly support female colleagues: in our firm it is entirely possible to combine family and a demanding profession. Having children is encouraged without [the individual] being assigned to less demanding or challenging cases. Our clients are not concerned about receiving worse service, but fully endorse our approach and are grateful to know brilliant female lawyers in each of our teams.

HOW DOES BODENHEIMER HERZBERG DISTINGUISH ITSELF FROM THE COMPETITION?

BODENHEIMER HERZBERG is considered the firm with the largest team focusing on complex disputes only. This allows us to handle large and complex cases as an alternative to the biggest law firms in our jurisdiction. We commit ourselves to appointments for both neutral and counsel work. The one assignment always benefits from experience gained in the other role. We are a multi-jurisdictional team of young and thirsty practitioners. Our lawyers are dispute experts and hail from jurisdictions on four continents, which makes us distinct in handling disputes passionately across jurisdictions. 

YOUR CAREER HAS BEEN VERY DISTINGUISHED TO DATE. WHAT ELSE WOULD YOU LIKE TO ACHIEVE?

There is always room to grow. I would like to be able to accept more teaching assignments to share my experience with younger practitioners. In addition, I would like to see BODENHEIMER HERZBERG growing further with excellence, and adding more jurisdictions to our team.

WWL Ranking: Thought Leader

WWL says

Rouven Bodenheimer is a specialist in construction dispute resolution, praised by peers across Europe who say, “Lawyers do not come any smarter.”

Questions & Answers

Dr Bodenheimer has specialised in international construction law since the early days of his career. He advises clients on structuring and financing construction projects; drafting and negotiating contracts; monitoring procurement proceedings; and advising during the entire construction period. His experience helps him in his main field of activity: acting as both counsel and neutral in all kinds of dispute resolution, foremost arbitration. He is a fellow (FCIArb) and chartered arbitrator (CArb), and currently serves as membership officer of the IBA’s international construction projects committee.

Why did you first decide to become a lawyer?

Studying law was first of all a compromise, and a match of both expectations as to the study and the profession. I have found it enjoyable to study sports and history, but could not imagine working in this field. I still love the idea of working as psychologist but did not enjoy the idea of studying it. As to law, I was sure that I would enjoy both studying the subject and working in the profession.

Today, working in the field of disputes and large construction projects allows me to combine both an international work environment and legally challenging work.

You hold a PhD pertaining to trade law. How has this helped to shape your career?

Completing a doctoral thesis demonstrates above all one thing: the ability to finish a task based not on necessity or external pressure, but your own will. It is this challenge I consider the most useful with a PhD thesis in the field of law.

My thesis deals with general terms and conditions between businesses – a topic that still enjoys a lot of practical relevance. The key feature is that I dealt with both English and German law, which has helped me a lot in working under different civil law and common law regimes.

What challenges do technical cases raise and how do you overcome these?

The challenge in truly technical cases is mainly that of chance, which is a key feature in construction matters. You cannot enjoy handling construction cases without enjoying having to deal with technicalities. Where the law meets the engineering and technical sides is where you can make a distinction – for your clients and the arbitrators as counsel, and for all parties involved when acting as arbitrator.

The key to overcoming such challenges is to approach each problem in a broad manner by including technical input from the very beginning. Often the solution is easy once you’ve got the technical aspects right.

When it comes to the composition of a dispute board or an arbitral tribunal, I have found it useful to have mixed panels comprising quantity surveyors or engineers, and lawyers.

In construction arbitration you have experience as counsel, chairman and arbitrator (both sole and co-arbitrator). Does experience in one role assist in the performance of another?

I believe practical experience in each of those roles constantly nourishes the others. For example, I had the opportunity to work on disputes as counsel of numerous different stakeholders, eg, contractors and employers, very closely, and to see unfiltered what actually happens behind the scenes, and all the issues that may be encountered in similar circumstances. Thanks to having seen behind the scenes and experienced those different perspectives, I, as a decision-maker, feel that I can approach a dispute more empathetically towards parties and counsel. Experiencing both sides of the table is in my view key to adding value to the entire concept of arbitration.

You speak four languages. How important has multilingualism become in international arbitration?

English is the common language not only of globalisation but also of international arbitration and international projects; the more languages you speak, the more parties consider you a cost-efficient arbitrator and counsel. It is true that the parties tend to choose English as their language during their contractual relations; the evidence submitted in an international arbitral proceeding is often in another (local) language (of a party), and parties do appreciate it if an arbitrator or counsel does not need to have all those documents translated. Intercultural awareness begins with using language mindfully, and with being aware of language issues and potential misunderstandings in a context where native and, more often than not, non-native speakers struggle with finding common denominators for concepts that sometimes seem close to each other but aren’t, or vice versa. To communicate in another’s language opens many doors, makes you truly understand things better, and more often than not assists in solving controversies.

You are a lecturer and frequent writer on matters of dispute resolution. How have these roles impacted upon your work in practice?

Teaching assignments and publication projects keep me up to date on different topics I work on, and help me constantly meet and reach out to new law practitioners active in different fields, which gives me different insights all the time. Only when you can convey knowledge of, and fascinate others with, your field have you have truly understood it yourself.

What challenges will the construction industry face in the coming years?

An exemplary challenge for companies actively constructing in foreign countries could be that as a consequence of the ECJ’s Achmea judgment, the future of (intra-EU) investment arbitration is at risk, which will most probably change to a different resolution mechanism. Construction companies better keep that in mind while deciding to invest in a foreign country.

A huge challenge and, at the same time an opportunity, is technical development. I am specifically thinking of smart contracts and their potential impact on both the industry itself and the advising community.

WWL Ranking: Thought Leader
WWL Ranking: Thought Leader

Global Leader

WWL Ranking: Recommended
Construction 2020

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Rouven Bodenheimer has deep expertise in construction arbitration, where he is "uniformly excellent as both counsel and arbitrator".

Biography

Dr Rouven Bodenheimer specialises in conflict resolution and primarily renders advice on construction law. Besides civil court proceedings he has been involved in numerous arbitration cases governed institutionally (DIS, ICC, LCIA, SCC, DIAC, VIAC, DIA, CAS and CEAC) as well as ad hoc arbitration. He has garnered significant experience as co-arbitrator, sole arbitrator, chairman and counsel in various arbitration proceedings, both domestically and internationally. He is particularly experienced in disputes involving difficult technical issues and large infrastructure projects. His expertise lies in fields as diverse as infrastructure, energy, construction and PPP projects.

Upon completing his formal legal education, Dr Bodenheimer published a doctoral thesis on a trade law topic in a comparative perspective under German and English law and obtained an additional master's degree in business mediation.

Dr Bodenheimer lectures on mediation and international arbitration at different prestigious German universities.

Dr Bodenheimer regularly publishes articles, book reviews and book contributions in the field of international arbitration and dispute resolution.

Dr Bodenheimer served as co-chair of the DIS40, the under-40 member organisation of the German Institution for Arbitration. He is an active member of the International Bar Association's arbitration committee, and within that he was a founding member of the steering committee of the under-40 arbitration group. He is a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (FCIArb) and a Chartered Arbitrator (C.Arb).

Peer-appointed, he is considered as one of the future leaders in international arbitration.

Dr Bodenheimer speaks German, English, Dutch and French.

National Leader

Germany - Arbitration 2020

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Rouven Bodenheimer is praised for his “hands-on approach” to contentious proceedings and is singled out by sources as “the best young arbitrator in Germany”.

Biography

Dr Rouven F Bodenheimer, MA FCIArb CArb is co-founder of BODENHEIMER HERZBERG, a law firm specialising in international dispute resolution.

Dr Rouven Bodenheimer specialises in conflict resolution and advises on corporate law and construction law. Besides civil court proceedings, he has been involved in numerous arbitration cases governed institutionally (DIS, ICC, LCIA, SCC, DIAC, VIAC, DIA, CAS and CEAC) as well as ad hoc arbitration. He has garnered significant experience as co-arbitrator, sole arbitrator, chairman and counsel in various arbitration proceedings both domestically and internationally. He is particularly experienced in disputes involving difficult technical issues and complex commercial aspects. His expertise lies in fields as diverse as infrastructure, energy, construction and intricate financial transactions.

Due to his vast experience in both common law and civil law related matters, he is specifically sought-after as counsel and arbitrator in international disputes. Many cases involved parties and projects in the Asia-Pacific region, which have led him to develop a profound intercultural understanding with a view to different legal traditions.

Dr Bodenheimer served as professor for international law (2015) and is today a highly sought-after speaker at conferences around the world. He lectures dispute resolution at multiple universities. He is a fellow (FCIArb) and chartered arbitrator (CArb) of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators. Dr Bodenheimer served as co-chair of the DIS40, the organisation for arbitrators aged 40 and under, which is part of the German Institution for Arbitration. He is an active member of the International Bar Association's arbitration committee, and within that he was a founding member of the steering committee of the under-40 arbitration group. Peer-appointed, he is considered one of the future leaders in international arbitration.

Dr Bodenheimer speaks German, English, Dutch and French.

Germany - Construction 2020

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Rouven Bodenheimer is a “very smart” lawyer who excels when it comes to handling high-value construction disputes.

Biography

Dr Rouven F Bodenheimer, MA FCIArb CArb is co-founder of BODENHEIMER HERZBERG, a law firm specialising on international dispute resolution. Dr Rouven Bodenheimer specialises in conflict resolution and advises on corporate law and construction law. Besides civil court proceedings, he has been involved in numerous arbitration cases governed institutionally (DIS, ICC, LCIA, SCC, DIAC, VIAC, DIA, CAS and CEAC) as well as ad hoc arbitration. He has garnered significant experience as co-arbitrator, sole arbitrator, chairman and counsel in various arbitration proceedings both domestically and internationally.

Due to his vast experience in both common law and civil law related matters, he is specifically sought-after as counsel and arbitrator in international disputes. Many cases involved parties and projects in the Asia-Pacific region, which have led him to develop a profound intercultural understanding with a view to different legal traditions.

He has advised a wide variety of clients on civil engineering, process and building projects in a wide variety of jurisdictions. He also has extensive experience of FIDIC and various standard and ad hoc forms of contract and has lately worked on disputes arising from infrastructure and energy projects in the Middle East, South East Asia and Europe.

Dr Bodenheimer served as professor for international law (2015) and is today a highly sought-after speaker at conferences around the world. He lectures dispute resolution at multiple universities. He is a fellow (FCIArb) and chartered arbitrator (CArb) of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators.

Dr Bodenheimer is an active member of the International Bar Association's international construction projects committee, within that he currently serves as membership officer.

Dr Bodenheimer speaks German, English, Dutch and French.

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