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Urs Weber-Stecher

Urs Weber-Stecher

Wenger & Vieli LtdDufourstrasse 56PO BoxZurichSwitzerland8034

Thought Leader

WWL Ranking: Thought Leader

Questions & Answers

Urs Weber-Stecher is the head of Wenger & Vieli’s arbitration team. He has more than 20 years’ experience in international arbitration. In recent years, he extended his practice to commercial mediation. His practice includes a broad variety of areas of law in a wide range of industries. He has been a lecturer for international arbitration at the University of Zurich since 2001. He currently serves as president of the Swiss Arbitration Academy and the Commission of Arbitration of ICC Switzerland.

WHAT MOTIVATED YOU TO SPECIALISE IN ARBITRATION?

I was always interested in foreign cultures and, since my law studies, in dispute resolution – hence, international arbitration is the perfect overlap. These interests led me to the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs where I headed the negotiations on dispute resolution mechanisms in connection with several foreign investment treaties and on a multilateral agreement on investment under the auspices of the OECD. Moving to private practice in the late 1990s, I continued this passion by starting my commercial arbitration practice.

WHAT QUALITIES MAKE FOR A SUCCESSFUL ARBITRATOR?

In my view, a variety of qualities and skills is decisive for an arbitrator to be successful. Obviously, an arbitrator needs to be a proven expert in the relevant fields of law, and to maintain the overview in all situations. This means that the arbitrator adapts his dispute resolution strategies to the parties’ (specific) economic and personal needs while ensuring a fair and efficient conduct of the procedure; it also requires a strong stance and – in case of abuse of procedural rights by (one of) the parties – courageous decision-making.

HOW HAS YOUR ROLE AS PRESIDENT OF THE SWISS COMMISSION OF ARBITRATION AND ADR (ICC SWITZERLAND) ENHANCED OR AFFECTED YOUR ROLE AT WENGER & VIELI?

My role as president of the Commission of Arbitration and ADR at ICC Switzerland constitutes one element of my profile as an active member in the arbitration community and helps me further develop my arbitration practice. This, in turn, is an important aspect of my role as partner in a law firm like Wenger & Vieli where one needs to be a respected expert in one’s field to contribute to the firm’s success.

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

For the next five years, I see mainly three developments. First, I see an expansion of the counsel work of our arbitration team, eventually also leading to its growth. Second, I expect my practice as arbitrator to further expand in respect of volume of the cases and significance of the parties and counsel teams involved. Third, I will continue to engage in educational activities, such as my teaching assignment at the University of Zurich and my involvement in the Swiss Arbitration Academy.

IT HAS BEEN POSITED THAT MEDIATION COULD BE USED TO SUPPLEMENT ARBITRATION PROCEEDINGS IN FUTURE. WHAT IS YOUR OPINION ON HOW EFFECTIVE OR PRACTICAL THIS COULD BE?

I am convinced that a good combination of mediation and arbitration is a promising approach to increase efficiency in commercial dispute resolution and, eventually, satisfaction of the parties involved. The most promising combination is arbitration-mediation-arbitration (AMA), because many factors speak against mediation before arbitration is initiated; in particular, the psychological barriers of all persons involved. However, in practice, this mechanism is seldom used – at least not with an independent third party (and not one of the arbitrators) acting as the mediator.

SOURCES HAVE REPORTED INCREASED TRANSPARENCY AND DISCLOSURE STANDARDS WITHIN THE ICC. HOW DO YOU SEE THIS AFFECTING PRACTITIONERS OVER THE NEXT FEW MONTHS?

Reading the amended Note to Parties and Arbitral Tribunals on the Conduct of Arbitration under the ICC Rules of Arbitration dated 1 January 2019, one indeed finds some modifications and some new additions regarding disclosure of arbitrators as well as new provisions on the publication of arbitral awards. The amended disclosure provisions will require a more careful assessment of potential conflicts of interest. To keep the respective inquiries reasonable, an approach based on robust common sense is recommended. The provisions regarding the publication of arbitral awards are very far-reaching since the whole text of the award will be published if the parties do not object or request that the award shall be in all or part redacted or anonymised. It remains to be seen how the respective practice develops. I assume that a considerable number of parties will object against publication or at least request redactions.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO SOMEONE STARTING OUT IN ARBITRATION?

Young practitioners should make sure that they do not focus their education exclusively on arbitration. In my view, in the first years of practice, it is important to also develop expertise in other fields of law and to transfer this expertise into a subsequent arbitration practice. In addition, it is obviously also advisable to participate in arbitration moot courts such as the Willem C Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot, or to take specialised (postgraduate) arbitration courses. Examples of these are the LLM in international dispute settlement (MIDS) at the University of Geneva (a one-year full-time programme); the extra-occupational training in the executive programme of the Swiss Arbitration Academy (SAA), offering a practitioner’s certificate (ArbP; three-week programme); or the certificate in advanced studies in arbitration (CAS; four-week programme) at the Universities of Lucerne and Neuchâtel. These (and other arbitration) programmes help increase the specific arbitration skills quickly and start building a network among arbitration practitioners.

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR GREATEST ACHIEVEMENT TO DATE?

That is a difficult question because I do not consider one specific achievement as outstanding; rather, I appreciate my overall engagement in educational activities for young arbitration practitioners and my well-established embedding in the international arbitration community.

WWL Ranking: Thought Leader
WWL Ranking: Thought Leader

Global Leader

WWL Ranking: Thought Leader
WWL Ranking: Recommended

National Leader

Switzerland - Arbitration

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Urs Weber-Stecher is "a very established and important figure" in Switzerland's arbitration community, with extensive experience across a broad range of commercial disputes.

Biography

Urs Weber-Stecher is an international arbitrator and commercial mediator. He is a partner at Wenger & Vieli Ltd in Zurich and heads the firm's arbitration team.

Until the end of 2018, Dr Weber-Stecher acted as counsel and arbitrator (chairman, co-arbitrator and sole arbitrator) in nearly 130 national and international arbitration cases, either ad hoc or under the auspices of various arbitration institutions. The fields of legal expertise and specialisation included competition law issues, IP, commercial contracts, agency, distribution and licence agreements, corporate law, and M&A in a wide range of industries such as energy and natural resources (including gas price disputes), construction, engineering, machinery, ICT, defence, commodity trading, food production and pharmaceuticals. The disputes were subject to substantive laws of Switzerland, Austria, England, France, Germany, Russia, the Czech Republic, Thailand, Turkey and CISG.

He is currently the president of the Commission of Arbitration (national committee) of ICC Switzerland; a member of the Arbitration Court of the Swiss Chambers' Arbitration Institution; and vice chair of the dispute resolution and arbitration committee of the Inter-Pacific Bar Association. He has lectured on international arbitration at the University of Zurich Law School and other fora, and is president of the Swiss Arbitration Academy.

Dr Weber-Stecher is member of various panels of arbitrators (eg, HKIAC, ICDR and KLRCA) and arbitration-related organisations, such as ICC Commission on Arbitration, ASA, DIS and LCIA. He is also a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators.

He studied law at the University of Zurich Law School (Dr iur) and at the Tulane University (LLM). He is a CEDR-accredited mediator and registered as mediator of the Swiss Bar Association.

Switzerland - Litigation

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Urs Weber-Stecher is a distinguished litigator with vast experience in contractual and competition law. He is regularly engaged to represent energy, construction and technology companies in high-value mandates

Biography

Urs Weber-Stecher is an international arbitrator and commercial mediator. He is a partner at Wenger & Vieli Ltd in Zurich and heads the firm's arbitration team.

Until the end of 2018, Dr Weber-Stecher acted as counsel and arbitrator (chairman, co-arbitrator and sole arbitrator) in nearly 130 national and international arbitration cases, either ad hoc or under the auspices of various arbitration institutions. The fields of legal expertise and specialisation included competition law issues, IP, commercial contracts, agency, distribution and licence agreements, corporate law, and M&A in a wide range of industries such as energy and natural resources (including gas price disputes), construction, engineering, machinery, ICT, defence, commodity trading, food production and pharmaceuticals. The disputes were subject to substantive laws of Switzerland, Austria, England, France, Germany, Russia, the Czech Republic, Thailand, Turkey and CISG.

He is currently the president of the Commission of Arbitration (national committee) of ICC Switzerland; a member of the Arbitration Court of the Swiss Chambers' Arbitration Institution; and vice chair of the dispute resolution and arbitration committee of the Inter-Pacific Bar Association. He has lectured on international arbitration at the University of Zurich Law School and other fora, and is president of the Swiss Arbitration Academy.

Dr Weber-Stecher is member of various panels of arbitrators (eg, HKIAC, ICDR and KLRCA) and arbitration-related organisations, such as ICC Commission on Arbitration, ASA, DIS and LCIA. He is also a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators.

He studied law at the University of Zurich Law School (Dr iur) and at the Tulane University (LLM). He is a CEDR-accredited mediator and registered as mediator of the Swiss Bar Association.

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