Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - International Dispute Resolution

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin | Faculty of Law | International Dispute Resolution | Dr Markus Burianski and Christian Theissen on Witness Examination, 10 July 2020

Dr Markus Burianski and Christian Theissen on Witness Examination, 10 July 2020


Witness Examination is a crucial and integral aspect of international arbitration – one that requires more than just legal knowledge or command over the facts of the subject-matter. It is much like a game of chess; one has to be careful and precise with each move in order to truly take control of a situation. It is about looking at the big picture, planning a few steps ahead and making necessary sacrifices to reach the ultimate goal. It calls for a unique set of techniques and tactics, which were presented to the IDR LL.M. students in the form of an online workshop conducted by Dr Markus Burianski and Christian M Theissen, both partners at White & Case’s Frankfurt office, with the skillful assistance of Eden Jardine, who is an IDR LL.M. graduate and now a member of the law firm’s dispute resolution team. 

The workshop was divided into three phases – first, a theoretical presentation on types of witness statements and examinations. Thereafter, students were directed into breakout rooms to apply the techniques they had learnt. Prior to the workshop, students had the opportunity to practically prepare for a case, both in the role of the lawyer conducting examination (direct/cross/redirect) as well as the witness being examined, which was put to test during this phase. The final session was dedicated to conclusions, further questions and general feedback.

Witness examination is more about application of the rules than the theory itself and this was demonstrated in the most apt manner in this workshop. One of the most interesting things was that the instructors had a very hands-on approach and shared many insights. They made sure to observe each pair of students in their respective roles. They also provided practical and critical feedback, while encouraging students to apply that feedback, refine their technique and then try again. This allowed the LL.M. candidates to assimilate knowledge and integrate it with their real time efforts. Another interesting aspect of the workshop was that the instructors highlighted not only good examples of witness statements and witness examination, but also “bad” examples. This was conducted in an action-based environment, allowing the students to participate and identify, on their own, what was a good/bad example, which helped students view both sides of the proverbial “coin” simultaneously. 

Overall, the workshop was an enriching experience for the IDR LL.M. students. Coincidentally, it was also scheduled as the last lecture of the summer semester and I can attest that it was a fun and satisfying conclusion.


Ankita Mishra, IDR LL.M. Candidate