Author Archives: Charles Kotuby

A Note from Professor S.I. Strong on the Results of Her Recent Survey on International Commercial Mediation and Conciliation

With the permission of the publishers, I wanted to let you know that the preliminary results from a recent empirical study on international commercial mediation and conciliation are now available. The study, which is entitled “Use and Perception of International Commercial Mediation and Conciliation: A Preliminary Report on Issues Relating to the Proposed UNCITRAL Convention on International Commercial Mediation and Conciliation,” collected detailed data on 34 different questions from 221 respondents from all over the world. Survey participants included private practitioners, neutrals, in-house counsel, government lawyers, academics and judges with expertise in both domestic and international proceedings.

This information was gathered to assist UNCITRAL and UNCITRAL Working Group II (Arbitration and Conciliation) as they consider a proposal from the Government of the United States regarding a possible convention in this area of law. The U.S. proposal will be considered in depth at the Working Group II meeting in February 2015.

Those who would like to see a copy of the preliminary report can download a free copy here. The data will be further analyzed in the coming months and published sometime next year as an article.

Many thanks to those from who participated in the survey and who helped distribute it among their networks. If you have any questions about the preliminary report, please feel free to let me know.

Kind regards,

S.I. Strong, FCIArb
Associate Professor of Law
Senior Fellow, Center for the Study of Dispute Resolution University of Missouri

OGEL & TDM Call for Papers: Special Issue on Renewable Energy Disputes

Oil, Gas, and Energy Law Journal and Transnational Dispute Management invite submissions for a joint Special Issue on Renewable Energy Disputes.

Renewable energy production is nothing new: windmills have been used to produce wind-based energy and dams have been used to produce mechanical energy for centuries past. However, the scale of investment in this area and the increased subsidies, regulation of and drive towards this type of electricity generation are unprecedented. Given the surge in activity in renewable energy production, it is no surprise that disputes in this area have started to arise.

Issues that have led to disputes within the EU, the US and globally have, for example, related to the national governments’ objective of ensuring maximum national or regional benefit from governmental measures in this area (similar to what is done in oil and gas-producing countries through local content requirements), miscalculations of subsidies in the planning stages and excessive costs for the state from such subsidies, especially when economic circumstances have changed. Furthermore, the scale of activities has in itself contributed to all kinds of disputes arising at various levels and various forums. These disputes may involve issues of public international law, EU and US law (at the supranational, national and subnational levels), private law and contractual arrangements. The Special Issue examines these types of disputes and analyses their backgrounds and the reasons why they arose. Recent and ongoing renewable energy disputes under international law have concerned international investment law and WTO law. However, recent renewable energy disputes at European level have mostly related to the free movement provisions of EU Treaty law. Contractual arrangements and connection issues serve as illustrations of private and contractual disputes in these areas.

This OGEL/TDM Special Issue on Renewable Energy Disputes will examine all kinds of renewable energy disputes. The basic structure of the special issue is:

Introduction: Renewable energy disputes: an overview – Professor Kim Talus (UEF Law School)

I) Public International Law Disputes

WTO cases: an overview (already in preparation)
WTO case against Canada (Ontario local content requirement) (already in preparation)
Investment Disputes in Renewable Energy (already in preparation)
Further proposals welcome!

II) EU Law Disputes

Judgment Ålands Vindkraft (already in preparation)
Judgment Essent (already in preparation)
Further proposals welcome!

III) National and Subnational Law and Commercial or Contractual Law Disputes

Spain: Spanish Supreme Court and ICSID cases against Spain (already in preparation)
UK Renewable Disputes (already in preparation)
Further proposals welcome!

OGEL and TDM encourage submission of relevant papers, studies, and comments on various aspects of this subject, including International, regional and national disputes on various aspects of renewable energy disputes. Contributions discussing a particular topic within this area, such as need to reform the ISDS with regards renewable energy and climate change, are also welcome.

Papers should be submitted by the 15 January 2015 deadline to Professor Kim Talus – contact details on the OGEL and TDM website – as well as a copy to

Save the Date: The Hague Service Convention Turns 50

On February 19, 2015, the Center for Transnational Business and the Law at Georgetown University Law Center will host an event in Washington DC to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the conclusion of the Hague Service Convention.

The Convention on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents in Civil or Commercial Matters, concluded in 1965, has become one of the most useful tools for the simplification of procedure in cross-border disputes. In the beginning, just a handful of Western states were parties, but over time, the acceptance of the Convention has grown; it is now in effect in 68 states, representing every continent and every major legal tradition. Alongside the New York Convention, accession to the Hague Service Convention is now considered one of the benchmarks of a state that aspires to provide access to the rule of law and transnational justice.

The event will feature panel discussions featuring practitioners, academics, representatives of the Hague Conference on Private International Law, and the central authorities of several states. The discussions will look back at the successes of the Convention over the past half-century, as well as look ahead to new challenges (whether it be unforeseen technologies, non-uniform interpretations of the Convention, and inadvertent failures to understand the Convention by the bench and the bar.) Of course, the event will also feature an opportunity for informal discussions among colleagues and friends.

To RSVP, see this link on Letters Blogatory

Survey on Perceptions and Use of International Commercial Mediation and Conciliation

Professor Stacie Strong from the University of Missouri School of Law is conducting a survey regarding international commercial mediation and conciliation. As many of our readers may know, this issue has recently made the news as a result of a decision by the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) to give further consideration to a proposal from the U.S. Department of State regarding an international convention on international commercial mediation and conciliation. This survey aims to inform the discussion about an international treaty in this field and further the debate about the viability of mediation and conciliation in the international commercial context.

Anyone who works in the field of international commercial dispute resolution–either as private practitioners, in-house counsel, legal academics or neutrals–are invited to participate by clicking on this link. The survey is comprised of thirty-four questions, although not all participants will answer all questions. The survey should take approximately ten minutes to complete, and participation is entirely anonymous. The survey will remain open until 11:59 p.m. Central Daylight Time (CDT) on October 31, 2014.

Another Alien Tort Statute Case Moving Forward

A few weeks back, the Unite States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit revived an Alien Tort Statute case that was at first dismissed in Kiobel’s wake. The four plaintiffs in Al Shimari v. CACI Premier Technology Inc. are foreign nationals who allege that they were tortured and otherwise mistreated by American civilian and military personnel while detained at Abu Ghraib prison on Iraq. The plaintiffs allege that employees of CACI—a private, U.S.-based defense contractor— “instigated, directed, participated in, encouraged, and aided and abetted conduct towards detainees that clearly violated the Geneva Conventions, the Army Field Manual, and the laws of the United States.” Based on the decision in Kiobel, the district court dismissed all four plaintiffs’ ATS claims, concluding that the court “lack[ed] ATS jurisdiction over Plaintiffs’ claims because the acts giving rise to their tort claims occurred exclusively in Iraq, a foreign sovereign.”

The Fourth Circuit reversed, adopting a narrow read of the Kiobel decision. As noted before on this site, the Supreme Court in Kiobel said that “even where [ATS] claims touch and concern the territory of the United States, they must do so with sufficient force to displace the presumption against extraterritorial application.” Reading this directive, the Fourth Circuit:

“observe[d] that the Supreme Court used the phrase ‘relevant conduct’ to frame its ‘touch and concern’ inquiry, . . . [and] broadly stated that the ‘claims,’ rather than the alleged tortious conduct, must touch and concern United States territory with sufficient force. [This] suggest][s] that [lower] courts must consider all the facts that give rise to ATS claims, including the parties’ identities and their relationship to the causes of action, [when assessing whether the presumption is overcome].”

“The Court’s choice of such broad terminology,” according to the Circuit, “was not happenstance.” The “clear implication” is that “courts should not assume that the presumption categorically bars cases that manifest a close connection to United States territory. Under the ‘touch and concern’ language, a fact-based analysis is required in such cases to determine whether courts may exercise jurisdiction over certain ATS claims.”

In this case, the plaintiffs’ claims allege acts of torture committed by United States citizens who were employed by an American corporation which has corporate headquarters located in Virginia. These employees were hired in the United States; the contract was concluded in the United States; and CACI invoiced the U.S. government in the United States. Finally, the plaintiffs allege that CACI’s managers located in the United States were aware of reports of misconduct abroad, attempted to “cover up” the misconduct, and “implicitly, if not expressly, encouraged” it.

These facts dictated a different result that Kiobel, even if the tortious acts occurred abroad, so the case was remanded to the District Court for further proceedings on the merits. Like Doe v. Nestle in the Ninth Circuit, and other cases discussed on this site, the ATS is far from dead.

“Judgments on Awards” in “Secondary Jurisdictions”: The D.C. Circuit Decision in Commisimpex v. Congo

Over fifteen years ago, on the 40th anniversary of the of the New York Convention, Jan Paulsson wrote that it was high time for the Convention “to discover its full potential.” See Paulsson, Enforcing Arbitral Award Notwithstanding Local Standard Annulments, 6 Asia Pac. L. Rev. 1 (1998). He “propose[d]” that “the annulment of an award by the courts in the country where it was rendered should not be a bar to enforcement elsewhere unless the grounds of that annulment were ones that are internationally recognized.” In his view, an “enforcement judge . . mak[es] a decision which will have practical consequences on resources located in his or her jurisdiction,” and need not take another enforcement court’s assessment of local or even international standards as “controlling.”

This week, before the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, we see somewhat of an opposite scenario. A party wins an international arbitration in Paris in 2000. It successfully enforces the award in London in 2009—thus making that award an English judgment. But the creditor is unable to collect on the judgment in England, and pivots west to the United States. But the three-year statute of limitations has run under the Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”), meaning that the award can’t be enforced there. The applicable statute of limitation for foreign judgments, however, is 10 years, so it seeks to enforce that instrument instead. Though Professor Paulsson says that each enforcement court must make its own decision on the enforceability of foreign arbitral awards, does the conversion of that award into a national court judgment take it out of the arbitration context altogether? Stated more bluntly, can a litigant “launder” the award in this manner?

Earlier this year, the District Court said no. In its view, enforcement of a judgment pregnant with an arbitral award “would create an obstacle to the accomplishment and execution of the full purposes and objectives” of the FAA and the New York Convention which it sought to codify. In its view, the “maneuver” attempted by the award-judgment-creditor here would “outsource[e]” the question of timeliness to litigants and foreign states and “upset the balance between promoting arbitration, on the one hand, and protecting potential defendants’ interest in finality,” on the other.

Just last week, the D.C. Circuit disagreed. Siding with the United States as amicus curiae, and prior decisions of the Second Circuit—the only other court to address the issue—it observed that “the overriding purpose of [the] FAA . . . is to facilitate international commercial arbitration by ensuring that valid arbitration agreements are honored and valid arbitral awards are enforced. . . . [The purpose] is not undermined — and frequently will be advanced — through recourse to parallel enforcement mechanisms that exist independently of the FAA.” “Although an arbitral award and a court judgment enforcing an award are closely related, they are nonetheless distinct from one another, and that distinction has long been recognized.” In a nod to Professor Paulsson’s view, the Circuit acknowledged that England is a “secondary jurisdiction” with respect to the French arbitral award, so its decisions “have ‘no preclusive effect’ in recognition proceedings in the United States.” But in this context, the U.S. court is not being asked to “automatically to accord preclusive effect to the English Court’s determinations on the Award under the Convention, but rather to assess the English Judgment under the separate (and clearly distinct) factors for judgment recognition under [state] law.”

Parallel coverage by Ted Folkman is on Letters Blogatory today, too.

Guest Post by Professor Vivian Grosswald Curran: The French Supreme Court Reverses Itself in an Islamic Veil Case in « L’Affaire Baby Loup »

Professor Curran is a Distinguished Faculty Scholar and Professor of Law at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. The Editors are grateful for this contribution.

France’s Cour de cassation decided yesterday (June 25, 2014) in plenary session that a private day care center could terminate an employee for wearing an Islamic veil (or outward sign of another religion) where the latter contravenes company rules deemed to be reasonable and proportionate in terms of the employer’s mission. The case had made its way to the Supreme Court once before, in March of 2013. At that time, the Court had held that the employee could not be terminated because the private company’s prohibition against outward signs of religion infringed its workers’ religious freedom. A key word here is « private.» Where the employer is public, by contrast, the principle of laïcité , or secularism in the public space, is deemed to justify the absence of manifestations of religious conviction.

Yesterday, however, the Court reversed itself, finding for Baby Loup, a rare day care center open seven days a week and around the clock, so that poorer women and especially single mothers, sometimes working night shifts, can find a place for their young children. The Court approved the lower court’s finding that the restriction on religious freedom at issue was justified inasmuch as the center was a small business whose employees come into continual contact with young children and their parents, such that the day care center has a legitimate interest in trying to make parents from all backgrounds feel welcome.

A note on French procedure may be of interest. Since the Supreme Court can only in the rarest of cases directly decide the substantive result of cases, in 2013 it had remanded to the Court of Appeals for further decision-making. In France, moreover, courts of appeal need not agree with the Supreme Court in its initial ruling, and the second appellate court rejected the high court’s ruling, thus leading the plaintiff to appeal to the Supreme Court a second time, yielding yesterday’s decision.

The facts of the case beyond those mentioned above add a potentially pragmatic cast to the plaintiff’s quest. She had been an assistant manager of the day care center before taking three years of maternity leave, followed by another three years of parental leave. When she returned after six years, she asked her employer to release her from her contract through a rupture conventionnelle, which would have guaranteed her certain benefits. The company refused, saying she would have to resign. Instead, she returned to work wearing an Islamic veil, knowing that it violated the company’s rules because she had helped draft those rules. When the company then terminated her employment for violating the prohibition, she sued.

A last legal option remaining to the plaintiff is an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights. Baby Loup, meanwhile, according to press accounts, is skirting financial failure due to the accumulated costs of its legal defense.

For those who read French, the decision is Arrêt n° 612 du 25 juin 2014 (13-28.369) – Cour de cassation – Assemblée Plénière – ECLI:FR:CCASS:2014:AP00612, and is available here.

TDM Call for Papers: “Arbitration in the Middle East – Expectations and Challenges for the Future”

The volume of international business either in the Middle East or with a Middle Eastern element is increasing and many of the contracts being used provide for arbitration. While arbitration (“tahkim” in Arabic) has long-standing religious and cultural roots in the Middle East, there are a number of differences and tensions between the Western perception of arbitration and certain Islamic legal principles.

Craig Shepherd and Mike McClure issue this call for papers seeking contributions for a TDM Special to be published later this year entitled “Arbitration in the Middle East – expectations and challenges for the future”. The Special will look at some of the differences between the Western and Middle Eastern perceptions of arbitration, and will also consider expectations for the future. Some potential topics include: (a) the legislative framework to support arbitration, including new arbitration laws and regional arbitral centres; (b) whether the modern concept of arbitration can resolve Shari’a disputes; (c) the role public policy should play in relation to judicial involvement with the arbitral process and enforcement or arbitral awards; (d) whether arbitral processes or arbitral laws could or should be reformed so that arbitration better suits the needs of today’s Middle Eastern users; and (e) claims under international investment treaties arising out of regional regime change, particularly in North Africa. Contributions can focus on one or a number of countries and comparative pieces referencing a number of jurisdictions would be welcome.

Papers should be submitted on or before 30 September 2014 to the editors, with a copy to when you submit material.

More details are available here.

TDM Call for Papers: “Dispute Resolution from a Corporate Perspective”

While companies do not enter into contracts with the expectation of becoming embroiled in litigation, disputes do occur and are part of doing business. The assumption is that disputes should be managed systemically rather than as ad-hoc events. This TDM special on dispute resolution from a corporate perspective seeks to widen and deepen the debate on issues that are central to the efficient management of disputes from a corporate perspective. The editors thus seek contributions related to any of the areas set out below but welcome other relevant contributions as well.

* Commercial Dispute Resolution – Negotiation. In order to successfully resolve commercial disputes, lawyers must possess, in addition to their legal, technical, and industry expertise, the skills to understand, predict and manage conflict through negotiation. While discussion of legal concepts and theory among the community of international dispute resolution lawyers is highly sophisticated, there is less of a debate on
negotiation and limited exchange with other disciplines researching the field of negotiation.

* Managing the cost of dispute resolution: Discussions between law firms and corporations often center on the subject of how much and how to bill, including for dispute related work. While there is an ongoing debate about whether traditional hourly rate billing creates the wrong incentives, alternative fee arrangements for dispute resolution still appear to be exceptional.

* The future of commercial dispute resolution: The arrival of “big data”, i.e., the increasing volume, velocity, and variety of data, is likely to catapult us into a world where analytics of very large data sets may allow predictions of outcomes and behavior that currently does not exist.

The editors of the special are: Kai-Uwe Karl (General Electric), Abhijit
Mukhopadhyay (Hinduja Group), Michael Wheeler (Harvard Business School)
and Heba Hazzaa (Cairo University).

Publication is expected in October 2014. Proposals for papers should be
submitted to the editors by July 31, 2014

Contact details are available on the TDM website

“Intellectual Whiplash”: One Day, Two International Cases, And Two Different Results At The U.S. Supreme Court

On December 2, 2013, the case of BG Group v. Argentina was argued at the Supreme Court. As the argument neared its end, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy quipped to Argentina’s counsel: “Your – your whole argument gives me intellectual whiplash.” Last Wednesday, when the Court released its decisions in BG Group and Lozano v. Montoya Alvarez, the same might be said back to the Court. I’m not the first commentator to feel this way.

Lozano concerned the Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of Child Abduction, which in essence says that if one parent unilaterally takes their child to another country, and the child is found within a year, the child must be automatically returned home. Otherwise, a court must consider the best interests of the child, who may have developed ties in the new country. But what to make of the clandestine parent and a child whose location could not be discovered for 16 months? Is there a principle of “equitable tolling” under the Convention, according to which the one-year period should only begin after the child’s location can be ascertained? This is certainly a familiar doctrine under U.S. law—equity tolls statutory limitations periods all the time. So as not to reward a clandestine parent, the father in the Lozano case wanted the same principle applied to his case.

The Supreme Court refused this request. The Convention, they said, was not a federal statute—it was a “contract between . . . nations”—so it would be “particularly inappropriate to deploy this background principle of American law” when interpreting it. Interpreting the Convention to preclude equitable tolling is more consistent with its text; if the drafters of the Convention had wanted the one-year period to start when the left-behind parent actually discovered where the child was, they could have easily said so. Because they didn’t, the uniquely common law notion of equitable tolling could not justify the father’s suit for automatic return.
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