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Thought Leaders

Thought Leaders

Urs Weber-Stecher

Urs Weber-Stecher

Wenger & Vieli LtdDufourstrasse 56PO BoxZurichSwitzerland8034

Thought Leader

Thought Leaders - Arbitration 2020

Q&A

WWL Ranking: Thought Leader

WWL says

Urs Weber-Stecher is lauded as an “excellent legal mind” and a “senior professional to look up to” according to impressed peers.

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 more 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 is president of the Commission of Arbitration and ADR of ICC Switzerland, and also serves as president of the Swiss Arbitration Academy.

What initially attracted you to a career in law? Has the reality exceeded expectation? 

Initially, two idealistic aspects led me to study law: first, an intrinsic longing for justice and second, my desire to help the disadvantaged. To a certain degree, reality has caught up with me and has certainly not exceeded my expectations. Having the emphasis of my work in commercial arbitration allows me to fulfil my first idealistic goal quite well, but my second has fallen by the wayside; or, to put it better, has slipped into my private life via my support for various charity projects in Asia and Africa. Hence, the direct link between my professional skills and my idealistic goal to help the disadvantaged is still waiting for realisation.

How has the arbitration space developed since you began your career? 

The arbitration space has developed tremendously since I started my career about 20 years ago. In view of the numerous changes, I can only list a few key things: the arbitration community has grown enormously – numerous young practitioners are about to enter the arbitration market and diversity is essential; arbitration centres and institutions are established in various regions of the world; transparency of proceedings and publicity of awards have become critical; and technical innovations and artificial intelligence are changing the working environment of arbitration practitioners. But fortunately, in the end, there is still a need for experienced experts to conduct the proceedings as arbitrators and ultimately render an enforceable award with high quality. So, this part has not really changed.

What motivated you to expand your practice to mediation? 

My intrinsic motivation to offer the users of commercial dispute resolution mechanisms every option to be in a position to choose the most appropriate approach for each case. This does not always have to be arbitration or state court litigation. There are a number of cases where a negotiated solution through structured mediation is the best approach, leading to fairer solutions with a higher degree of satisfaction for the parties involved.

What makes Wenger & Vieli stand out from its competitors on the market? 

Compared to other firms, Wenger & Vieli has a rather small but very efficient and creative team of experienced practitioners. We offer high-quality service with a lean structure; there are no unnecessary overhead costs. In a nutshell, we can offer top quality at better market prices.

What is your view on combining arbitrator and mediator roles to increase the efficiency of dispute resolution? 

I am an advocate of the combination of arbitration and mediation. But it must be a real combination and not a mixture of the two. In other words, in my opinion it is not the arbitrators who should change roles to mediator in the course of a proceeding; rather, a proper mediation window should be opened in which an independent mediator, who is not an arbitrator in that proceeding, conducts the mediation. At least for certain cases, I consider this combination to be promising and apt to increase efficiency for the users.

What steps can younger arbitration practitioners take to improve their chances of getting appointments? Is there an important role to play here for experienced lawyers? 

Young practitioners in arbitration have a number of opportunities to increase their chances of getting appointments. First, they may receive a solid education in arbitration, for example, by participating in specialised postgraduate studies, such as those offered by the Swiss Arbitration Academy, the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, or the MIDS at the CIDS of the University of Geneva. Second, young practitioners should try to become members of arbitration teams in renowned law firms, in order to participate in real arbitration proceedings as junior counsel and/or administrative secretary. Third, they should be active in the arbitration community and participate in organisations for young practitioners, such as ASAb40, ICC YAF, AIJA, etc. Fourth, they should present themselves through publications and lectures. 

Experienced colleagues can be of great help, especially in practical cases, but also in creating opportunities for publications, lectures and generally networking in the arbitration community.

What impact has the new Note to Parties and Arbitral Tribunals on the Conduct of Arbitration by the ICC had on your work over the past year? 

For the nomination as an arbitrator, the ICC Note of January 2019 has led to significantly increased transparency with regard to possible conflicts of interest. In my view, this is positive in principle, but requires a common-sense approach.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? 

Stay calm and focused in any situation irrespective of (supposed) pressure.

WWL Ranking: Thought Leader

Global Leader

WWL Ranking: Recommended
WWL Ranking: Recommended

National Leader

Switzerland - Arbitration 2020

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Urs Weber-Stecher is lauded as an “excellent legal mind” and a “senior professional to look up to” according to impressed peers.

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 2019, Dr Weber-Stecher acted as counsel and arbitrator (chairman, co-arbitrator and sole arbitrator) in over 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, Hong Kong, 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 board of the Swiss Arbitration Association (ASA); 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 SIAC) 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 2020

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Urs Weber-Stecher is a key name in the Swiss market, well versed in representing companies before Swiss courts in contractual and competition-related disputes.

Biography

Urs Weber-Stecher is an international litigator, 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 2019, Dr Weber-Stecher acted as counsel and arbitrator (chairman, co-arbitrator and sole arbitrator) in over 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, Hong Kong, 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 board of the Swiss Arbitration Association (ASA); 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 SIAC) 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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