July 9, 2012

Unique opportunity for Sweden to further improve its position in international disputes

“A close relationship with the academic world is in principle a necessity for lawyers who practise international arbitration at the top level,” according to Kaj Hobér, partner at Mannheimer Swartling. In May, he was appointed Professor of International Investment and Trade Law at Uppsala University, a new position which also entails establishing a permanent interdisciplinary and jurisprudential teaching and research programme focused on this subject.

With the number of international investment disputes increasing, there is also a greater need for research and higher education in the field of international agreements and disputes, which is one of the reasons why Uppsala University has recently established a new educational and research programme in International Investment and Trade Law.

“Developments in this area give rise to important questions and through research being done in this area, practitioners gain important insights from the academic world,” says Kaj Hobér, who just recently returned from arbitration conferences in Singapore, Moscow and Berlin.

“Combining knowledge and experience from practical application with academic research, offers Sweden a unique opportunity to advance its positions in international arbitration,” says Hobér.

“I am honoured by this appointment and also consider myself very fortunate to be able to combine this professorship with my practice at Mannheimer Swartling. Several of my colleagues in the dispute resolution team – and a number of lawyers in other practice groups at the firm – are active in academia either as lecturers or mentors in addition to their regular work for the firm. This benefits both the community and the firm’s clients.”

Right timing
The appointment of Kaj Hobér and the establishment of this new jurisprudential research discipline are well-timed. Over the past 10-12 years, the number of international investment disputes has grown significantly since the number of bilateral investment agreements - agreements between two countries aimed at protecting private investment - has risen sharply. One reason for the increase of both agreements and disputes is the fall of the Soviet Union and the formation of fifteen new countries, all of which have concluded several bilateral investment treaties. Today, the number of bilateral investment treaties is estimated to be around 3,000.

“There is a great deal of interest and a great need for research and education in international investment and trade law,” says Hobér. “A majority of all bilateral agreements contain arbitration clauses.”

Experienced teacher
Sweden and the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce has long been an important centre for dispute resolution. Through the establishment of the new research programme at Uppsala University, Sweden gains an opportunity to become an even more important centre for international arbitration, according to Kaj Hobér.

By autumn 2012, he will begin teaching a specialised course in International Commercial Arbitration as part of the university’s law curriculum. And in spring 2013 he will also lead courses in Russian law and WTO law.

The students benefit from an experienced teacher; Kaj Hobér has worked as a lawyer, arbitrator and researcher in international law for more than 25 years. The new professorship takes advantage of his extensive experience in both the theoretical and practical aspects of the law.

A unique master’s programme is planned
In the autumn of 2013, a master’s programme with a focus on investment disputes will commence. The programme is the first of its kind in Europe and will enable students to immerse themselves in the complex procedural and substantive issues that arise in investment disputes.

“The Master’s programme consists of four parts”, says Hobér. “It begins with the basics of international arbitration, followed by an orientation to the rules and principles concerning the protection of foreign investments. Procedural issues such as jurisdiction issues and immunity will be discussed in the third part. The fourth and final part consists of a thesis. In parallel with the last two segments, we will hold an Arbitration Moot Court, a mock trial where students in groups, write submissions and debate with each other in a fictitious arbitration dispute.”

“I have always tried to combine the practical application of legal knowledge with participating in the academic debate in order to sharpen my skills in my profession. This is a unique opportunity to contribute to the development of the field and to further advance the country’s position in arbitration disputes.”

Mannheimer Swartling is the leading firm in the Nordic region in dispute resolution and one of the leading firms in the world in dispute resolution, a position that was confirmed last year by a new top ranking on GAR30, Global Arbitration Review’s ranking of the world’s leading law firms in international arbitration. The 70 lawyers in the dispute resolution team are based in the firm’s offices in Stockholm, Frankfurt, Hong Kong, St. Petersburg, Moscow and New York – but clients and assignments are located all over the world.

The firm has extensive experience of commercial disputes in a large number of industrial sectors and areas of law, as well as government investment disputes and regulatory disputes. Energy is an important area, but disputes within telecom, IT, the automotive industry, real estate, media and entertainment, and shipping and transport also occur frequently. Members of the group act as counsel in arbitration tribunals all over the world, and they also assist clients in mediation proceedings and other forms of dispute resolution.