Peter Hafner gains widespread recognition from market sources who applaud him as “a knowledgeable litigator” and someone who is “calm and persuasive”.
Peter Hafner has been a partner with Wartmann Merker AG since 2006. Previously, he was an associate and partner with an international law firm in Zurich and a visiting foreign lawyer with Sullivan & Cromwell, New York (1997-1998).
He graduated from the University of Zurich (1991 lic iur, 1994 Dr iur) and the University of Michigan Law School (1997 LLM). He was admitted to the Bar in Switzerland in 1993 and to the New York Bar in 1998.
What attracted you to a career in law?
It's a calling. I was fascinated with the profession in law school and remained ever since. Lawyers are asked to solve intricate problems for their clients and the practice always stays fascinating.
What do you enjoy most about working in commercial litigation?
Commercial litigation is mostly about contractual disputes. Contracts and procedural law are among the most challenging subject matters and in commercial litigation you find them combined anew in ever changing constellations. And each case has a new set of facts and you learn a lot about the industries of your clients.
What are the key qualities that clients look for in an effective litigator?
Experience, availability for the assignment, a fighting spirit and the ability to deliver a legal impact on behalf of the client.
How have you developed your litigation practice since you first began your career?
As a young lawyer, I worked with one of the best litigators in the country, who taught me the essential litigation skills. And continued practice trains your judgement.
What skills are needed to successfully collaborate with lawyers, experts and authorities in different jurisdictions?
Foremost, it takes team-players. Good lawyers and experts in many places think in similar terms and collaboration is usually easy. As to authorities, you need a local specialist who is familiar with their practice.
What are the challenges for practitioners and clients relying on the Hague Convention to enforce judgments in the EU?
There are only a few contracting parties to the Hague 2019 Convention and to date I have not had a case in my practice. However, in practice you often resort to the Lugano Convention and the fairly liberal rules of the domestic Swiss Federal Act on Private International law, which provide for straightforward enforcement proceedings.
How do you anticipate the commercial litigation market to develop in Switzerland over the next year?
I do not expect a significant shift, meaning that it remains a heterogenous market, in which the large and important cases are mostly handled by the large elite firms and a few litigation boutique firms, such as ours.
Looking back over your career, what has been your proudest achievement?
The arguments and success in several landmark litigation cases before the Swiss Federal Supreme Court.