Peers and clients say:
"Christopher is one of the stars in international arbitration"
"He is well organised and in control of his cases"
"Christopher Boog is exceptional in all respects"
Christopher Boog is vice-chair of Schellenberg Wittmer’s international arbitration practice. He represents clients in international commercial, investment and sports arbitration matters. Chris has acted as counsel and arbitrator in over 120 complex arbitrations seated in common law and civil law jurisdictions around the world, involving a wide array of matters and under many different laws. His main areas of specialisation include construction and engineering, energy, commodities, investment and sports law, life sciences, automotive and mining.
What do you enjoy most about your role as arbitrator?
I have the privilege of sitting in different parts of the world and most enjoy that I get to experience parties and counsel from very diverse (legal and cultural) backgrounds, with very different advocacy styles.
If you could implement one reform for international arbitration, what would it be and why?
I would have parties and arbitrators engage in more expert management. By that I mean consider and discuss how they want to deal with expert evidence at the outset of the proceedings and find individual solutions that suit the case. Especially in technically complex matters, the “standard” approach of filing expert reports with the statement of claim, rebuttal reports with the statement of defence and so forth, often proves to be inefficient both in terms of time and costs, because the experts address an array of issues in their initial reports at a stage of the proceedings where it is unclear whether those issues will ever be relevant or material, or even disputed. I have suggested in the past ways in which the “expert procedure” could be integrated into the arbitral process more efficiently and effectively and believe that a general discussion at the outset of every arbitration would beneficial.
To what extent would you say virtual hearings are effective compared to their in-person alternative?
It very much depends on the case. There are cases where it makes little difference, if any, whether the hearing is conducted in person or remotely, and remote hearings can be very effective and (cost-)efficient. Then there are cases where a remote hearing cannot match up to an in-person hearing. That can be because a remote hearing causes inequality between parties (and their counsel), because of the type of evidence that is to be taken, or the issues at stake.
In hybrid hearings, what aspects do you anticipate will remain virtual and what aspects will parties prefer to conduct in person?
Again, this will very much depend on the case. There will be cases where the parties prefer to deliver their oral pleadings in person, whereas (some of the) witness or expert testimony can be taken remotely. There may be others where a remote opening is an option, but where the parties may want a witness or an expert in the room with counsel, or in other cases with the tribunal. I have seen many forms of hybrid hearings over the years, some worked, some did not. I did a hearing during the coronavirus pandemic where all counsel, witnesses and experts were in a room, and the whole tribunal was remote – it worked well. I think most importantly we should not try to define a “standard” or “best practice”. Every case is different.
How has the trend towards virtual working affected training and networking opportunities?
It has probably affected networking more than training, and more so for lawyers at the beginning of their careers than those who have already built a network. I’m not a fan of online networking sessions. I believe we need to find a good balance moving forward that allows younger colleagues to build their networks in the same fashion we did, and hope firms will provide them with the necessary budget to do so.
As vice-chair of Schellenberg Wittmer’s international arbitration practice, how do you promote diversity and inclusion and why is it important to the firm?
We have several initiatives on a firm-wide level, including LGBTQI+ and female career task forces. This has allowed us to achieve diverse representation at all levels within the firm, including within the firm’s management committee. As a practice group, we still have ways to go, but with more female than male partners and equal representation on the team in general at least in terms of gender diversity we are on the right track. But as many before me have said, diversity is not only about gender. It is about diversity of thought. To give our clients the best advice and representation possible, we strive to increase the diversity of our already diverse team with every hire. Unfortunately, those efforts are sometimes hampered by immigration laws that are less flexible than we would wish.