Franz Schwarz
  • PositionPartner
  • FirmWilmerHale
  • Age-
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Franz Schwarz

Franz Schwarz

  • Position: Partner
  • FirmWilmerHale
  • Age: -

WilmerHale, London and Frankfurt

Why international arbitration?

It is the most interesting field of law, full stop. It provides constant intellectual stimulation at the highest level, arising from its internationality and diversity; yet it also offers the quintessential thrill of the adversarial process.

What’s been the highlight of your career so far?

In the past 12 years, I have been blessed with many fascinating cases and have met many intriguing people. I enjoy cross-examination the most. The highlight of my career was probably turning around a hopeless case in which I was instructed after two awards had already been issued against our client.

Who do you consider your mentor?

Gary Born.

Who else in the field do you admire?

I admire my team: there is no other group with that kind of intensity, commitment and dedication – who are also so much fun to work with.

What other career might you have chosen?

I am not sure that I would have stayed in the law. I would have become a writer of novels, or a journalist perhaps.

What advice would you give someone just starting out?

Find a mentor who can teach you and then give it your all.

Do you sit as an arbitrator?

I have had over 30 appointments to date, as sole arbitrator, chairman and party-appointed. I got my first appointment when I was 31, and not yet a partner. I was to chair two related cases under the Vienna Rules, and was appointed by the Vienna International Arbitral Centre, who really made (and still make) an effort to promote younger practitioners.

What are the biggest challenges facing arbitration?

While the debate about “challenges” is important to advance the field, I find it sometimes overblown and somewhat self-centred. Every case that poses an issue – from West Tankers to Jivraj – is pronounced as constituting the end of arbitration as we know it. If I had to identify a challenge, I would wish for substantive standards of enforcement to be applied uniformly around the globe – that the New York Convention is followed in spirit, not only in letter.

What’s been your most memorable moment in a hearing?

My best anecdotes are best told in person – and I would not like to see them in print!

What’s your favourite city to arbitrate in?

Vienna: it’s going home.

What’s your favourite restaurant?

A small selection: Umu and Hakkasan (London); Fabio’s and Kim Kocht (Vienna) and Kronenhalle (Zurich). Favourite hotel, by the way: the Dolder Grand (Zurich).

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