Nikolaus Pitkowitz, who has held the position of Vice-President of VIAC since 2017 and is a long-standing Board member has taken over the role of President of VIAC from Günther Horvath. Günther dedicated his time and expertise to our institution in his role as President for five years and for much longer as a Board member. We are extremely grateful to Günther for playing a substantial role in shaping the institution into what it has become, the premiere international institution in Central and Eastern Europe. Günther expressed his satisfaction with the new leadership of VIAC: “I am extremely pleased with the transition of the VIAC presidency to Nicky Pitkowitz standing for continuity and further progress of the institution. VPs Patrizia Netal and Franz Schwarz will be part of a great team set for success.” 

In a board meeting on 12 September 2022, Nikolaus Pitkowitz accepted his nomination as President, thanking his colleagues for entrusting him with this important task and describing his vision for VIAC: 

Nikolaus Pitkowitz
“I intend to further strengthen the role of Vienna as one of the world’s leading dispute resolution hubs and to expand our four pillars: international commercial arbitration (with a focus on energy transformation and technology); domestic arbitration (which VIAC administers since 2018, with a focus on construction and M&A disputes), mediation and our “infant” investment arbitration, where we launched our state-of-the-art rules just over a year ago. 
I very much look forward to working with the highly proficient team of VIAC, headed by our remarkable secretary general Niamh Leinwather and my two outstanding vice presidents Patrizia Netal and Franz Schwarz.”


Patrizia Netal of Knoetzl also accepted her nomination as Vice-President in a heartfelt speech. Patrizia will be the first female practitioner to take on a leadership role in the VIAC Board – a milestone for the institution of which it is very proud. 

Patrizia Netal

"VIAC has built a solid and unique reputation as a leading arbitral centre with outstanding experience in the CEE/SEE region. It is an honor to further contribute to strengthen existing bonds with VIAC’s regional partners and friends and create new ones. Together with our new elected VIAC President Nikolaus Pitkowitz and VP Franz Schwarz, we will aim at extending the well-established user base to an even more diverse range of parties spanning Europe. I am proud to be part of this exciting journey alongside Nikolaus, Franz and the entire formidable VIAC team led by Niamh Leinwather.” 


Franz Schwarz of WilmerHale, who served as Vice-President since 2017 was re-elected by the Board. Franz is a strong supporter of Nikolaus and he himself continues to dedicate his time, energy and expertise to VIAC, he remarks:

Franz Schwarz

Nikolaus has a compelling vision for VIAC as the premier institution in Central and Eastern Europe. I am very excited about the opportunity to support Nikolaus in his role as VIAC President during the coming years. I am also thrilled that Patrizia Netal has been elected as Vice-President: Patrizia is a leading arbitration practitioner with a lot of experience in the region, who will no doubt bring a fresh perspective to our work. With the new appointment of Niamh Leinwather as Secretary General and all our colleagues at VIAC, we have a formidable team to serve our users.”           



VIAC’s Secretary General, Niamh Leinwather has expressed her “extreme gratitude to Günther Horvath for his hard work and dedication to VIAC as the premier institution in Central and Eastern Europe – both as President but also has a long-standing board member.” She is quoted in a recent interview as saying that she “very much enjoyed working with Günther at VIAC over the last few months. His continued support on every front was vital, particularly on our sanctions initiative. Nikolaus is taking over from Günther’s legacy, and I have no doubt that he will implement the many innovative ideas and visions he has. Nikolaus and I share the conviction that Legal Tech and arbitration are the future and are on the verge of launching our Legal Tech Think Tank. With the invaluable support of Patrizia and Franz, this and other initiatives will ensure that the institution continues to grow and prosper in providing a cutting-edge service to our users. It is a real honour for me to work alongside caliber such as Nikolaus, Franz and Patrizia and continue to advance VIAC on all fronts.