1010, Vienna, Austria
Peers and clients say:
"Florian is an excellent lawyer"
"He has already established himself as a strong name in the market"
Florian Haugeneder is a leading arbitration practitioner with 20 years of experience. Florian heads the arbitration team at KNOETZL and has extensive experience as counsel and arbitrator under the rules of the major arbitral institutions, including the DIS, ICC, ICSID, KCAB, LCIA, SCC and VIAC. He has successfully represented clients in some of the largest and most complex disputes in the CEE and SEE regions. Florian is the president of the Austrian Arbitration Association (ArbAut).
What sorts of matters are you most active on at present?
We at KNOETZL are particularly active in arbitrations dealing with technical or legal complexity. Clients actively seek our advice in matters that are significant for them and present unusual challenges.
Our core fields of expertise are all forms of energy production, construction and engineering, banking and finance, M&A transactions as well as investment arbitration. Like most of the senior lawyers in the arbitration team, I work both as counsel and arbitrator under the established arbitration rules, such as DIS, ICC, ICSID, KCAB, LCIA, SCC, and VIAC. The amounts in dispute of the matters we handle are significant, but the economic impact of a case for a client may even be bigger than that: Claimed serial defects, possible reputational damage, consequential losses mean that often much more is at stake for a client.
What do you enjoy most about your role as counsel?
Being counsel is an immensely creative task, with challenges on all levels, legal and on a relationship level. At all stages of a case, you have to deal with people: your client, witnesses, opposing counsel, the arbitrators and, of course, the people from our own team. And of course, winning a case for a client and helping that client to overcome a critical situation is immensely satisfying on a personal level.
For example, we achieved to obtain an anti-suit injunction from an arbitral tribunal seated in Austria – a civil law jurisdiction where this remedy is traditionally unknown and often looked at with hostility. This was an enormous uphill battle, but it was the only way to effectively secure the position of our client. We succeeded, and our client obtained a favourable settlement. Another case involved the proof of intentional misrepresentation by our opponent in an M&A transaction. We succeeded to take this formidable hurdle and enabled our client’s economic survival.
What qualities and skills make for an effective advocate?
An effective advocate needs a number of technical and personal skills. On the technical level, counsel must have full command of the law and the facts of the case. Most of the cases are cross-border matters with elements of “foreign” laws.
In technical matters, the technical background comes from the experts. But counsel must be on top of all the relevant technical aspects so that counsel may truly challenge the experts. That is also true for foreign laws, even if we of course routinely team up with foreign co-counsel.
The task of counsel is ultimately to convince the arbitrators. This means to distil from the law, the facts and the involved people a winning strategy, which is the truly creative part of counsel work. And, of course, winning a case means teaming up with the client, not being an extraneous adviser.
In what ways has the nature of arbitration proceedings evolved since you first began practising?
The single biggest change is the explosion of the volume of data we have to deal with. The modern forms of communication mean that the exchanges of recorded communications have just risen exponentially. Arbitration had to adapt to this and to switch from manual to IT-supported handling of data.
If you could implement one reform in international arbitration, what would it be?
Codify, to the extent possible, the fragmented sources of procedural law in international instruments.
How do you see the European arbitration market developing in the future?
I expect that the specialisation of practices will further continue. The market will likely be dominated by a few larger full-service firms and a firms offering specialised services in a certain field, with not much room in between. At KNOETZL, we have anticipated this development and offer highly competent, class-leading services in our areas of competence.
What distinguishes KNOETZL from other firms?
KNOETZL is, to my knowledge, one of the few leading Austrian firms that is truly diverse also at the equity partner level. Our culture and the background of our lawyers are genuinely international. The clients of KNOETZL appreciate a culture of openness, partnership and a no-nonsense approach that is driven by efficiency and the drive to succeed.
What has been your greatest achievement to date?
Our firm was over the course of a few years recognised by all leading directories as being in the top league. We are humbled and proud of this achievement. This would not have been possible without the trust of our clients and the commitment of all the people at KNOETZL.