On 25 January 2005, the HAC – in co-operation with the Hamburg Chamber of Commerce – organized a conference on

Hamburg as a seat of arbitration
Centre of competence for Eastern Europe.

Invitation (PDF)

Arbitration in Hamburg
Competence Centre for Eastern Europe Presentation of the Hamburg Arbitration Circle e.V. and the Chamber of Commerce in Hamburg on Tuesday 25 January 2005 19-21 h, Handelskammer Hamburg
Centre of competence for Eastern Europe.

On 25 January 2005 the Hamburg Arbitration Circle e.V. in co-operation with the Chamber of Commerce in Hamburg has hosted a lecture evening titled “Arbitration in Hamburg – Competence Centre for Eastern Europe” at the Albert- Schäfer-Saal of the Chamber of Commerce in Hamburg. The event was aiming at providing valuable advice and suggestions to the commercial world through lectures of versed experts and practitioners as well as to draw attention to prominent issues. The evening was well attended.

The audience was welcomed by the President of the Chamber of Commerce in Hamburg, Dr.&xnbsp;Karl-Joachim Dreyer. Dr. Dreyer noted the long tradition of arbitration in Hamburg and underscored the outstanding importance of arbitration for Hamburg’s success as business centre throughout the last centuries.

In his address Senator of Justice, Dr. Roger Kusch, praised arbitration as an effective and welcome supplement to the excellent judiciary in the Freie und Hansestadt Hamburg.

In the course of his presentation titled “Arbitration: Quality and legal certainty for conflict management in international trade” former judge of the district court of Hamburg, Axel Bartels, set forth the reasons for establishment of the Hamburg Arbitration Circle. To his opinion the understatement of Hamburg has led to the most important and most traditional arbitration centre in Germany not being recognised and appreciated as such. He noted that the renowned “Hamburger Freundschaftliche Arbitrage” has held its 100th anniversary in 2004, and that therefore the establishment of the HAC in the same year was no coincidence.

Furthermore, Mr Bartels pointed out that nowadays there are hardly any international trade agreements not containing an arbitration clause. He was depicting the advantages of arbitration as in essence offering better international enforceability in comparison to judgements, allowing for better composition of the tribunal in terms of expertise, confidentiality of the proceedings, allowing for greater party autonomy in respect of the proceedings, and often providing a better atmosphere for dispute resolution. According to Mr Bartels there may be advantages in respect of time and costs to be expended in arbitral proceedings in comparison to ordinary court proceedings, eventhough this does not have to be the case at all times.

Following Axel Bartel’s presentation Dr. Frank-Bernd Weigand, LL.M. (London), General Counsel of Marquard & Bahls AG, was elaborating on “Practical experiences with arbitration in international trade”. Dr. Weigand explained the development of arbitration from a proceeding perceived as exotic, exclusive and exorbitantly costly to a common and affordable instrument designed for trade. Furthermore, he was specifying classic contractual relationships which regularly include an arbitration clause. He also gave an indication of the requirements for efficient arbitration in international trade: The arbitral tribunal has to be capable of handling the international dimension of the proceedings, needs to have special expertise, preserve confidentiality and aim at an inexpensive and expeditious “commercial” solution of the conflict. Also Dr. Weigand once more emphasised the special importance of better international enforceability of arbitral awards as compared to judgements.

In his contribution “Freie und Hansestadt Hamburg: Competence Centre for Arbitration” the managing director of the Chamber of Commerce in Hamburg, Christian Graf, presented figures on the number of civil court cases at first instance in Hamburg and in Germany. In an impressive way he compared the average duration of state court litigation to the duration of arbitral proceedings with the result that in average arbitral proceedings as a whole take as long as the first instance of court litigation. Similarly a comparison of costs for the proceedings showed advantages of arbitration in comparison to multiple instances at court. Subsequently Mr Graf introduced the audience to selected arbitral bodies in Hamburg, namely the Arbitral Tribunal of the Chamber of Commerce in Hamburg, the Commodities Arbitration, as well as the Tenos AG. He pointed out, that the “Hamburger Freundschaftliche Arbitrage” is not an arbitral body and noted that the term was rather referring to a local usance. Mr Graf named further arbitral proceedings common in Hamburg, and elaborated on the number of proceedings as well as on the origin and the special competence for Eastern Europe of arbitrators active in Hamburg.

In his presentation with the title “Accurate arbitration clauses: Precision is decisive!”, Dr.&xnbsp;Daniel Busse, LL.M. (Columbia), partner of Lovells, drew the audience’s attention to pathologic arbitration clauses to be encountered in practice. He discussed advantages and disadvantages of conciliation clauses and highlighted problems of competence agreements. Furthermore, he elaborated on the constitution of the arbitral tribunal, applicable procedural rules as well as the seat of the arbitration. Dr. Busse concluded his presentation by proposing an arbitration clause adequately accounting for the identified problems.

At the end of the evening Prof. Dr. jur. Vladimir V. Lukjanov of the University of St. Petersburg was speaking to the “Importance of arbitration in Eastern Europe: Example Russia”. Prof. Dr. Lukjanow emphasised that Russia had advanced arbitration in the country by means of numerous laws and legal initiatives, and was actively pursuing the further strengthening of arbitration. He noted that especially with regard to enforceability advantages for international trade with Russia were to be expected when using arbitration clauses.

The presentations were followed by a lively discussion between the audience and the speakers before light refreshments were served.

Dr. Sebastian Hofert, LL.M./RSA