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Thought Leaders

Thought Leaders

Wolfgang Peter

Wolfgang Peter

Peter & KimAvenue de Champel 8 CGenevaSwitzerland1206

Thought Leader

Thought Leaders - Arbitration 2020

Q&A

WWL Ranking: Thought Leader

WWL says

Wolfgang Peter is one of Europe's key names when it comes to arbitration matters. His expertise lies in acting as counsel and arbitrator in post-M&A, joint venture and contractual disputes.

Questions & Answers

Wolfgang Peter is a founding partner of Peter & Kim, a new global specialist practice in Switzerland, South Korea, Singapore and Australia, dedicated to international commercial and investment arbitration. Dr Peter represents major companies from Europe and overseas as counsel in large and complex international arbitrations. He also regularly serves as an arbitrator in high-stakes arbitrations under the auspices of various institutions throughout the world. He has acted, up to January 2020, in over 255 international arbitrations involving M&A; finance and banking; international trade; joint ventures and industrial cooperation; agency and distribution; and licensing transfer of technology and natural resources (in particular gas-price adjustment disputes).

What do you enjoy about working in international arbitration?

The challenge of working as counsel, and the intellectually stimulating cooperation with experienced colleagues when I serve as an arbitrator. I am attracted by the international side of my activities, the work on several continents, and the escape from uniformity. I enjoy the experience of different legal cultures and practices, which broadens my horizons.

How has the practice of arbitration evolved since your career started?

We have moved from typewriters and slow fax machines into a world of powerful computers and continuous electronic communication, ultimately resulting in a speedier process and extensive connectivity in data processing. Arbitration professionals are now arbitration process managers with at least some basic IT skills. The number of arbitrations has increased in magnitude; it has become the mainstream dispute resolution method. New techniques that initially faced resistance, such as witness conferencing, which I proposed almost two decades ago, have become acceptable. Third-party funding, previously unknown, is now here to stay. 

On the negative side, arbitration has seen an inflationary process: core points in submissions are drowned in thousands of pages, and document production has become an arbitration within the arbitration requiring excessive costs, time, and energy.

Additionally, the use of an aggressive style of conducting arbitrations has increased, leading to the use of derailment strategies and tactical challenges, and frivolous objections to appointments which can then backfire against the parties using them.

In the past decade, arbitration has experienced a definite explosion of costs, in particular for counsel and expert fees, often due to the increasingly aggressive style of defending one’s case. 

Further, a huge increase of investment arbitration has been seen, with clear signs of decline as states are pushing back.

What qualities and skills do clients look for in an effective arbitrator?

Experience in conducting the procedure; efficiency in managing the process; knowledge of industry sectors; legal competence; rational thinking; a sense of fairness; availability; true engagement with the file; and an ability to build relations within the arbitral panel. A proactive approach is also important, and an ability to anticipate procedural issues or resolve them quickly, without prejudgement of the merits and keeping an open mind throughout the process.

What role do you see third-party funding playing in arbitration going forward?

Third-party funding, like anything “new” among lawyers, encountered some negative initial reactions that have given way to acceptance. It is a relatively important factor that is here to stay, as a legitimate and rational opportunity. Principles and regulations have emerged, notably on conflicts, counsel independence and security for costs. Arbitration and third-party funding are in a process of mutual adaption.

How will technological innovation affect the practice of arbitration in the next five to 10 years?

Technological innovation, which I distinguish from conceptual innovation, is a spectacular ongoing evolutionary process. Today’s world is full of powerful computers, electronic documents with hyperlinks, USB drives and remote hearings by video. All of this was unthinkable 30 years ago. The future might see hearing experts and witnesses appearing as holograms in hearing rooms; live animated damages models; more sophisticated and animated PowerPoint projections; and perhaps, in the not-too-distant future, AI checking draft awards for consistency with the entire file.

This will not replace, for the time being, the ultimate analysis by arbitrators for their decision-making, nor do I foresee algorithms replacing dispute resolution, but for the most technical of disputes, perhaps in high-speed stock trading.Finally, contrary to optimistic views, I see no decrease in costs and gain of speed.Has covid-19 had an impact on commercial arbitration? Are parties willing to be flexible in procedure and approach to get it over the line?

The covid-19 crisis has made full virtual hearings acceptable. Potentially it could lead to a change of the way we conduct activity in becoming a profession without any need to ever leave the office, 365 days per year. But I do not believe that in-person hearings will disappear. Counsel would not have the same impact on the tribunal; arbitrators could no longer informally communicate and discuss views throughout the hearing. But hybrid hearing solutions are here to stay.

What advice would you give to arbitration specialists looking to establish their own boutiques?

Analyse your market, define your objectives (industry sectors, clients, geographical implementation). Define what you can offer beyond the usual marketing language of “excellence, experience, commitment”. What makes you truly different and attractive compared to your competitors?

Establish a realistic business plan without overestimating revenues and underestimating costs. Be prepared to leave the (relative) security of a law firm for a career with entrepreneurial risk. Ask yourself some hard questions, such as: do you have a portfolio of clients and/or arbitrator appointments? Is your reputation already fairly established? Or are you a young practitioner looking to fill a gap in the market? Answering these questions honestly will help you assess your strengths and find a niche in the market.

You have enjoyed a very illustrious career so far. What would you like to achieve you have not yet accomplished?

Creating further conceptual innovations after witness conferencing, which already dates back to 2002. Transmitting of my know-how and sharing my experience with all young members of my firm, a goal that can never be fully achieved. And following my dream to obtain a pilot’s licence and gain new perspectives.

WWL Ranking: Thought Leader

Global Leader

Arbitration 2020

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Wolfgang Peter is one of Europe's key names when it comes to arbitration matters. His expertise lies in acting as counsel and arbitrator in post-M&A, joint venture and contractual disputes.

Biography

Wolfgang Peter is a founding partner of Peter & Kim SA, a new global specialist practice in Switzerland, South Korea and Australia, dedicated to international commercial and investment arbitration.

Dr Peter represents major companies from Europe and overseas as counsel in large and complex international arbitrations. He also regularly serves as an arbitrator in high-stakes arbitrations under the auspices of various institutions throughout the world.

He has acted, up to January 2020, in over 255 international arbitrations involving M&A; finance and banking; international trade; joint ventures and industrial cooperation; agency and distribution; licensing transfer of technology and natural resources (in particular gas-price adjustment disputes).

Further to his arbitration practice, Dr Peter has been retained as counsel in numerous Swiss and cross- border mergers and acquisitions as well as corporate finance and IPO transactions. He was a member of the board of several companies in the field of finance and industry.

Before founding Peter & Kim, Wolfgang Peter spent more than three decades leading the arbitration and corporate groups of Peter & Partners, a boutique law firm specialised in arbitration, and of Python & Peter, a major Swiss law firm. Dr Peter also held top management executive positions: he was CEO of the Breguet Watch Group from 1987 to 1995 and managing director of Montres Jaquet-Droz SA from 1995 to 2000.

He studied business administration, political science and law at the universities of Lausanne, Geneva, Harvard and Frankfurt and holds doctorate degrees in business administration (Lausanne) and in law (Frankfurt). He has written various articles on business law and international commercial arbitration; the second edition of his study Arbitration and Renegotiation of International Investment Agreements was published by Kluwer in 1995.

Dr Peter is a member of various arbitration-related organisations, including the Geneva and Swiss Bar associations, the LCIA (board member), the Geneva Association of Business Law, the ASA (executive board member) and the IBA.

Construction 2020

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Wolfgang Peter is “a very well-known and very good lawyer”, held in high esteem for his deep knowledge of construction law and related disputes.

Biography

Wolfgang Peter is a founding partner of Peter & Kim SA, a new global specialist practice in Switzerland, South Korea, Australia and Singapore, dedicated to international commercial and investment arbitration.

Dr Peter represents major companies from Europe and overseas as counsel in large and complex international arbitrations. He also regularly serves as an arbitrator in high-stakes arbitrations under the auspices of various institutions throughout the world.

He has acted, up to January 2020, in over 255 international arbitrations involving M&A; finance and banking; international trade; joint ventures and industrial cooperation; agency and distribution; licensing transfer of technology and natural resources (in particular gas-price adjustment disputes).

Further to his arbitration practice, Dr Peter has been retained as counsel in numerous Swiss and cross- border mergers and acquisitions as well as corporate finance and IPO transactions. He was a member of the board of several companies in the field of finance and industry.

Before founding Peter & Kim, Wolfgang Peter spent more than three decades leading the arbitration and corporate groups of Peter & Partners, a boutique law firm specialised in arbitration, and of Python & Peter, a major Swiss law firm. Dr Peter also held top management executive positions: he was CEO of the Breguet Watch Group from 1987 to 1995 and managing director of Montres Jaquet-Droz SA from 1995 to 2000.

He studied business administration, political science and law at the universities of Lausanne, Geneva, Harvard and Frankfurt and holds doctorate degrees in business administration (Lausanne) and in law (Frankfurt). He has written various articles on business law and international commercial arbitration; the second edition of his study Arbitration and Renegotiation of International Investment Agreements was published by Kluwer in 1995.

Dr Peter is a member of various arbitration-related organisations, including the Geneva and Swiss Bar associations, the LCIA (board member), the Geneva Association of Business Law, the ASA (executive board member) and the IBA.

Energy 2020

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Wolfgang Peter is held in high regard for his remarkable handling of complex energy-related arbitrations spanning a range of disputes from projects to oil and gas contracts.

Biography

Wolfgang Peter is a founding partner of Peter & Kim SA, a new global specialist practice in Switzerland, South Korea, Australia and Singapore, dedicated to international commercial and investment arbitration.

Dr Peter represents major companies from Europe and overseas as counsel in large and complex international arbitrations. He also regularly serves as an arbitrator in high-stakes arbitrations under the auspices of various institutions throughout the world.

He has acted, up to now, in over 260 international arbitrations involving M&A; finance and banking; international trade; joint ventures and industrial cooperation; agency and distribution; licensing transfer of technology and natural resources (in particular gas-price adjustment disputes).

Further to his arbitration practice, Dr Peter has been retained as counsel in numerous Swiss and cross- border mergers and acquisitions as well as corporate finance and IPO transactions. He was a member of the board of several companies in the field of finance and industry.

Before founding Peter & Kim, Wolfgang Peter spent more than three decades leading the arbitration and corporate groups of Peter & Partners, a boutique law firm specialised in arbitration, and of Python & Peter, a major Swiss law firm. Dr Peter also held top management executive positions: he was CEO of the Breguet Watch Group from 1987 to 1995 and in 1992 he co-founded Montres Jaquet-Droz SA and was managing director until 2000.

He studied business administration, political science and law at the universities of Lausanne, Geneva, Harvard and Frankfurt and holds doctorate degrees in business administration (Lausanne) and in law (Frankfurt). He has written various articles on business law and international commercial arbitration; the second edition of his study Arbitration and Renegotiation of International Investment Agreements was published by Kluwer in 1995.

Dr Peter is a member of various arbitration-related organisations, including the Geneva and Swiss Bar associations, the LCIA (board member), the Geneva Association of Business Law, the ASA (executive board member) and the IBA.

National Leader

WWL Ranking: Recommended
WWL Ranking: Recommended
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