Peers and clients say:
"Ulrike is a very sharp-minded dispute resolution specialist who masters both, litigation and arbitration"
"She knows perfectly how to best manage big cases"
"She always goes the extra mile for her clients and masters all tactics needed to be successful in defending against a claim"
Ulrike is one of the leading personalities in the field of dispute resolution - in particular for (inter-) national commercial arbitration. She sits as arbitrator and advises her clients as party representative in complex disputes under all sets of rules. A main core area of Ulrike’s practice is turn-key construction (including energy related projects) and post-M&A (relying on her extensive experience as advisor for corporate and M&A). She is a member of various boards and committees of international arbitration institutions.
What is it about arbitration that you enjoy most?
Arbitration in itself is incredible. The possibility for parties to bridge cultural gaps, to choose the best skilled and suitable decision makers/rules and place, and to shape their own proceedings substantially increases the parties’ trust and acceptance of the arbitral tribunal’s work.
For international cases, the flexibility in language, law and culture – there is nothing better.
I love the internationality – that mix which is at the same time challenging and inspiring.
With every new case there is something new. One constantly learns – I like it.
What has been the most interesting case you have worked on to date?
I am fortunate: there have been – and are even today - numerous super interesting cases! It is impossible to pick only one: things change quickly and today’s challenge is nothing compared to those of tomorrow! Generally those cases are the best; if they have on the fact side some real complex – out of the standard – themes, are super international and such combined with challenging procedural questions. In addition, if I do have the benefit to sit with clever, deep thinking arbitrators, who do live up to the best of arbitration, that is certainly the best!
What are some of the main obstacles to continuing the digitisation of arbitration?
I believe one of the main obstacles is the resistance from users: parties, counsel, and arbitrators alike. We still face resistance against new technologies and innovative approaches, and this also applies to digitalisation. Such resistance may have different origin – ranging from misunderstood data protection aspects to a simple fear. I do think that we must openly support any new technique so that lawyers and arbitrators can eventually concentrate on the core work. Of course, in some instances, the lack of (cyber)security can also be an obstacle. An issue where improvement and solutions must urgently be found.
With sanctions regimes becoming an ever more prevalent geopolitical reality, how must arbitration specialists evolve to meet these changes?
Arbitration specialists must always be aware of the geopolitical contexts, and this is no different with the sanction regimes. There is not only the need to consider the impacts of arbitrator appointments and possible enforcement but also the general challenge to provide access to justice. As impacts can change quickly, the challenge is to be up to date and to set up a robust strategy. It is for the entire community of users of arbitration to find a way forward and institutions and international organisations certainly have a big role to play.
What are the current dynamics between investor-state arbitration and climate change?
I do expect the green transition to have a significant impact in investor-state arbitration, and climate change related disputes will play a role in this respect. In any event, climate change will play a role in litigation. Generally, we are already seeing a steady increase on the number of investor-state cases with climate change related claims. This tendency is likely to continue, especially with the prominence of the ESG agenda.
What advice would you give to the future generation of arbitrators in Europe?
Stay curious, open minded and focused. Curious to understand the disputes and their setting, open minded enough to accept different perspectives and backgrounds, and focused enough to be able to lead the parties to the best possible outcome. That is the role of the arbitrator, to hear, understand and to lead the parties through the dispute in order to reach the best possible result. It may be a final award, but it may also be a settlement. And – most importantly - do not take things too personally and dare to struggle and to face challenges.
What do you hope to achieve in the future?
I want to implement even more new technologies to streamline the dispute resolution process and support start-ups to find IT tools that release me and my team of the “nitty gritty work”. Besides, I want to increase our use of legal design. I believe the future of dispute resolution will see much more legal design, and the early adopters will have an advantage.