Tag Archive for: conflict of laws

Traveling Judges and International Commercial Courts

Written by Alyssa S. King and Pamela K. Bookman

International commercial courts—domestic courts, chambers, and divisions dedicated to commercial or international commercial disputes such as the Netherlands Commercial Court and the never-implemented Brussels International Business Court—are the topic of much discussion these days. The NCC is a division of the Dutch courts with Dutch judges. The BIBC proposal, however, envisioned judges who were mostly “part-timerswho may include specialists from outside Belgium. While the BIBC experiment did not pass Parliament, other commercial courts around the world have proliferated, and some hire judges from outside their jurisdictions.

In a new paper forthcoming in the American Journal of International Law, we set out to determine how many members of the Standing International Forum of Commercial Courts hire such “traveling judges,” who they are, why they are hired, and why they serve.

Based on new empirical data and interviews with over 25 judges and court personnel, we find that traveling judges are found on commercially focused courts around the world. We identified nine jurisdictions with such courts, in Hong Kong, Singapore, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Qatar, Kazakhstan, and the Caribbean (the Cayman Islands and the BVI), and The Gambia. These courts are designed to accommodate foreign litigants and transnational litigation—and inevitably, conflicts of laws.

One may assume that these judges largely resemble arbitrators (as was likely intended for the BIBC). But whereas studies  show arbitrators are mostly white, male lawyers from “developed” countries that may be based in the common law or civil law tradition, traveling judges are even more likely to be white and male, vastly more likely to have prior judicial experience and common-law legal training, and are overwhelmingly from the UK and its former dominion colonies. In the subset of commercially focused courts in our study, just over half of the traveling judges were from England and Wales specifically. Nearly two-thirds had at least one law degree from a UK university.

Below is a chart showing the home jurisdiction of the judges in our study.  This includes traveling judges sitting on the BVI commercial division, Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal, Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) Courts, Qatar International Court, Cayman Islands Financial Services Division, Singapore International Commercial Court, Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) Courts, and Astana International Financial Centre (AIFC) Courts as of June 2021.

Figure 2: Traveling Judges by Home Jurisdiction Excluding Non-Commercial ECSC and The Gambia—June 2021

A look at traveling judges’ backgrounds suggests that traveling judges might be a phenomenon limited to common-law countries, but only half of hiring jurisdictions are in common law states. Almost all hiring jurisdictions, however, are common law jurisdictions. Moreover, almost all are or aspire to be market-dominant small jurisdictions (MDSJ). For example, the DIFC Courts are located in a common law jurisdiction within a non-common-law state that has been identified as a MDSJ.

Conflict of Laws of Freedom of Speech on Elon Musk’s Twitter

Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter has been a divisive event. Commenting on the response on Twitter and elsewhere, Musk tweeted:

The extreme antibody reaction from those who fear free speech says it all

>

By “free speech”, I simply mean that which matches the law.

I am against censorship that goes far beyond the law.

If people want less free speech, they will ask government to pass laws to that effect.

Therefore, going beyond the law is contrary to the will of the people.

Ralf Michaels quote-tweeted perceptively: ‘But which law?’

Twitter and the conflict of laws

By their very nature, digital platforms like Twitter present a variety of conflict of laws issues.

Revised Canadian Statute on Jurisdiction

Written by Stephen G.A. Pitel, Western University

Many Canadian and some other conflicts scholars will know that the Uniform Law Conference of Canada (ULCC) has drafted (in 1994) model legislation putting the taking of jurisdiction and staying of proceedings on a statutory footing. This statute, known as the Court Jurisdiction and Proceedings Transfer Act (CJPTA), has subsequently been adopted and brought into force in 4 of Canada’s 13 provinces and territories (British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia, Yukon).

The ULCC has now released a revised version of the CJPTA. It is available here and background information is available here.

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Ducking the Ricochet: The Supreme Court of Canada on Foreign Judgments

Written by Stephen G.A. Pitel, Western University

The court’s decision in HMB Holdings Ltd v Antigua and Barbuda, 2021 SCC 44 (available here) is interesting for at least two reasons. First, it adds to the understanding of the meaning of “carrying on business” as a test for being present in a jurisdiction. Second, it casts doubt on the application of statutory registration schemes for foreign judgments to judgments that themselves recognize a foreign judgment (the so-called ricochet).

In this litigation HMB obtained a Privy Council judgment and then sued to enforce it in British Columbia. Antigua did not defend and so HMB obtained a default judgment. HMB then sought to register the British Columbia judgment in Ontario under Ontario’s statutory scheme for the registration of judgments (known as REJA). An important threshold issue was whether the statutory scheme applied to judgments like the British Columbia one (a recognition judgment). In part this is a matter of statutory interpretation but in part it requires thinking through the aim and objectives of the scheme.

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HCCH Monthly Update: August 2021

Conventions & Instruments

On 23 July 2021, New Zealand deposited its instrument of ratification of the HCCH 2007 Child Support Convention. With the ratification of New Zealand, 42 states and the European Union are bound by the Child Support Convention. It will enter into force for New Zealand on 1 November 2021. More information is available here.

On 1 August 2021, the HCCH 1996 Child Protection Convention entered into force for Costa Rica. It currently has 53 Contracting Parties. More information is available here.

Meetings & Events

As announced on 3 August 2021, registration for the 12th International Forum on the electronic Apostille Programme (e-APP) is now open to the general public. The event will be hosted online on 4 October 2021. The deadline for registration is Friday, 10 September 2021, 5.00 p.m. CEST. More information is available here.

Defending the Rule in Antony Gibbs

By Neerav Srivastava

 

The Rule in Antony Gibbs[1] (‘the Rule’) provides that if the proper law of a contract is Australian, then a discharge of the debt by a foreign jurisdiction will not be a discharge in Australia unless the creditor submitted to the foreign jurisdiction.[2] The Rule is much maligned, especially in insolvency circles, and has been described as “Victorian”.[3] In ‘Heritage and Vitality: Whether Antony Gibbs is a Presumption’[4] I seek to defend the Rule.

Presumption

The article begins by arguing that, in the modern context, that the Rule should be recognised as a Presumption as to party intentions.

Briefly, Gibbs was decided in the 1890s. At the time, the prevailing view was that the proper law of a contract was either the law of the place of the contract or its performance.[5] This approach was based on apportioning regulatory authority between sovereign States rather than party intentions. To apply a foreign proper law in a territory was regarded as contrary to territorial sovereignty. Freedom of contract and party intentions were becoming relevant to proper law but only to a limited extent.[6]

As for Gibbs, Lord Esher’s language is consistent with the ‘Regulatory Approach’:

HCCH Monthly Update: July 2021

Membership

On 1 July 2021, Mongolia deposited its instrument of acceptance of the Statute, becoming the 89th Member of the HCCH. More information is available here.

Conventions & Instruments  

On 3 July 2021, the HCCH 1961 Apostille Convention entered into force for Jamaica. It currently has 120 Contracting Parties. More information is available here.

On 30 July 2021, the HCCH 1970 Evidence Convention entered into force for Georgia. It currently has 64 Contracting Parties. More information is available here.

Meetings & Events

From 5 to 9 July 2021, the Experts’ Group on Parentage/Surrogacy met for the ninth time, via videoconference. The Group discussed the scope of the possible draft Convention on legal parentage and the scope of the possible draft Protocol on legal parentage established as a result of an (international) surrogacy arrangement. More information is available here.

HCCH|Approach Initiative – Celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the 1996 Child Protection Convention

To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the HCCH 1996 Child Protection Convention, the HCCH is pleased to announce the launch of the Advancing and Promoting the Protection of All Children (Approach) Initiative!

The HCCH|Approach Initiative will consist of a series of activities and events culminating in the HCCH|Approach Event, to be held online on Tuesday 19 October 2021. Information on registration and the programme of the HCCH|Approach Event will be made available in due course.

Leading up to the HCCH|Approach Event, the Permanent Bureau of the HCCH is organising two competitions: the HCCH|Approach Essay Competition, and the HCCH|Approach Media and Design Competition. Entries can be submitted up until Friday 1 October 2021, 5.00 p.m. (CEST).

Epic’s Fight to #freefortnite: Challenging Exclusive Foreign Choice of Court Agreements under Australian Law

By Sarah McKibbin, University of Southern Queensland

Epic Games, the developer of the highly popular and lucrative online video game Fortnite, recently won an appeal against tech juggernaut, Apple, in Australia’s Federal Court.[1] Fortnite is played by over three million Apple iOS users in Australia.[2] In April 2021, Justice Perram awarded Apple a temporary three-month stay of proceedings on the basis of an exclusive foreign choice of court agreement in favour of the courts of the Northern District of California. Despite awarding this stay, Justice Perram was nevertheless ‘distinctly troubled in acceding to’ Apple’s application.[3] Epic appealed to the Full Court.

On 9 July, Justices Middleton, Jagot and Moshinsky found three errors of principle in Justice Perram’s consideration of the ‘strong reasons’ given by Epic for the proceedings to remain in the Federal Court — despite the exclusive foreign choice of court agreement.[4] Exercising its own discretion, the Full Court then found ‘strong reasons’ for the proceedings to remain in the Federal Court, particularly because enforcement of the choice of court agreement would ‘offend the public policy of the forum.’[5] They discerned this policy from various statutory provisions in Australia’s competition law as well as other public policy considerations.[6] The appeal highlights the tension that exists between holding parties to their promises to litigate abroad and countenancing breaches of contract where ‘serious issues of public policy’ are at play.[7]

1          Exclusive Choice of Foreign Court Agreements in Australia

Australians courts will enforce an exclusive choice of court agreement favouring a foreign court either by granting a stay of local proceedings or by awarding damages for breach of contract. The usual approach is for the Australian court to enforce the agreement and grant a stay of proceedings ‘unless strong reasons are shown why it should not.’[8] As Justice Allsop observed in Incitec v Alkimos Shipping Corp, ‘the question is one of the exercise of a discretion in all the circumstances, but recognising that the starting point is the fact that the parties have agreed to litigate elsewhere, and should, absent some strong countervailing circumstances, be held to their bargain.’[9] The burden of demonstrating strong reasons rests on the party resisting the stay.[10] Considerations of inconvenience and procedural differences between jurisdictions are unlikely to be sufficient as strong reasons.[11]

HCCH Monthly Update: June 2021

Conventions & Instruments  

On 31 May 2021, Georgia deposited its instrument of accession to the HCCH 1965 Service Convention and the HCCH 1970 Evidence Convention. With the accession of Georgia, the Service Convention now has 79 Contracting Parties. It will enter into force for Georgia on 1 January 2022, subject to the Article 28 procedure. For the Evidence Convention, with the accession of Georgia it now has 64 Contracting Parties. The Convention will enter into force for Georgia on 30 July 2021. More information is available here.

Meetings & Events 

On 1 June 2021, the HCCH and the Asian Business Law Institute co-hosted the webinar “HCCH 1970 Evidence Convention and Remote Taking of Evidence by Video-link”, part of the ongoing celebrations of the Evidence Convention’s golden anniversary. More information is available here.