As part of the Berlin Dispute Resolution Days the Dutch German Arbitration Group of the Dutch Arbitration Association (DAA), the German Arbitration Institute (DIS) and the Netherlands Arbitration Institute (NAI) successfully celebrated its inaugural event.
The panel discussion under the title 'Dutch German Perspectives on Commercial Disputes' was moderated by Elke Umbeck (Heuking Kühn Lüer Wojtek) and Claudia Krapfl (Gleiss Lutz), who organized the event together with Jonas Hinrichsen (De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek), Martin Lögering (Lebuhn & Puchta) and Dirk Wiegandt (Hanefeld). The panelists, Giesela Rühl (Berkely) of the Humboldt University Berlin, Thomas Stouten, partner at Houthoff, and Arjan Waayer, Managing Counsel EMENA at the Global Litigation Department of Shell, gave short introductory presentations, which led to a lively discussion with the audience, comprised of approx. 30 participants from different jurisdictions, including arbitration practitioners, academics and in-house counsels.
The DAA/DIS/NAI Arbitration Group event commenced with a welcome note of moderators Claudia Krapfl and Elke Umbeck, highlighting the group's work and its goals. The Dutch German Arbitration Group aims to improve mutual knowledge of Dutch and German arbitration procedure, to promote the exchange on relevant substantive issues, as well as to offer a forum that fosters the links between the two communities, among arbitration practitioners, in-house counsel and industry participants. Further events to facilitate this collaboration are currently being planned.
Since the Federal Ministry of Justice published the draft bill "Gesetz zur Stärkung des Justizstandortes Deutschland" in April 2023, introducing so-called commercial chambers and commercial courts as well as English as the court language for certain proceedings, much has already been reported. However, in the Netherlands the Netherlands Commercial Court has been part of the judicial system already since 2019. The panelists, Giesela Rühl (Berkely) of the Humboldt University Berlin, Thomas Stouten, partner at Houthoff, and Arjan Waayer, Managing Counsel EMENA at the Global Litigation Department of Shell, discussed what experience and insights we can draw from the Netherlands, to what extent the Netherlands Commercial Court has been accepted or may even be preferred by users compared to arbitration and what can be expected from its German equivalent.
A lively discussion unfolded concluding that the German draft law constitutes a step forward in the internationalisation of the German judiciary. However, German commercial chambers and commercial courts will likely experience constraints imposed by German procedural law. Insights from the Netherlands Commercial Court are limited, because very few cases have been heard there to date. Users confirmed that especially the procedural flexibility lacking at commercial courts, next to speed, confidentiality, the amount of specific expertise of arbitrators and the overall atmosphere between parties and their counsel in the arbitral setting make arbitration the preferred dispute resolution mechanism.
The Dutch German Arbitration Group is planning its next event in Amsterdam on 17 April 2024. Details on the programme will follow in due time.