Some places are good to go to for arbitration, some places are better avoided. It is not this blog’s aim to hail the former and blame the latter but, rather, to outline why Switzerland certainly is a good choice when it comes to arbitration.
Arbitration clauses are sometimes called “Midnight Clauses”. They are called “Midnight Clauses” because they tend to be the very last clause that parties will negotiate on when trying to contractually finalize a business transaction. If the parties are looking for an excellent dispute resolution mechanism or are having last-minute difficulties in finding a suitable compromise, arbitration in Switzerland might be a valuable alternative. Why? There are a handful of unique selling propositions.
First of all, Switzerland has a long tradition of hosting international arbitrations of all kinds (both ad-hoc and institutional). The tradition dates back more than hundred years. As a consequence of this history and experience, you will find easy access to a great number of excellent legal practitioners, both counsel and arbitrators.
Second, Switzerland is politically neutral and is the seat of many international organizations (WTO, WIPO, IOC, etc.). This ensures an openness of mind to different cultures and values and makes Switzerland a great place for an international arbitration.
Third, Swiss substantive law offers a very liberal, clearly defined and predictable legal framework to its users. As a consequence, Arbitration in Switzerland is ideally combined with a choice of law clause in favour of Swiss substantive law.
Fourth and importantly, Switzerland offers both a very stable legal system and an excellent legal framework. Switzerland’s international arbitration law follows an efficient regime and is comprised of only 18 very concise articles. Furthermore, the Swiss judiciary applies a very arbitration-friendly approach in dealing with challenges of arbitral awards and only interferes in exceptional circumstances. There is only one challenge available and this challenge goes right to the Swiss Federal Supreme Court, Switzerland’s highest court. The Supreme Court will not review the merits of the award. It will, however, ensure that the most basic legal principles (public policy) are safe-guarded. Consequently, there are no cost-intense multi step annulment proceedings before state courts. Challenges are generally dealt with within six months.
Fifth, Switzerland offers great infrastructure both in terms of travelling access, hotels, security, court reporting and translation needs.
Last but not least, arbitration in Switzerland offers you great flexibility. You can arbitrate according to the arbitration rules of all of the major institutions, i.e., ICC, Swiss Chambers of Commerce, LCIA, SCC, DIS, AAA, SIAC, HIAC, CIETAC or under Ad-Hoc Rules and will find a suitable ground for your arbitration. For all of these reasons and many more, arbitral awards originating in Switzerland will profit from a great reputation and will be easily enforceable internationally in case of need.