Letter From The President Of The New York State Bar Association

2011-08-01 00:00

To The Readers Of The Metropolitan Corporate Counsel:

As readers of this publication know, our corporate legal community is no longer defined in narrow geographic terms. Our work spans all seven continents. In the face of a global economic crisis, the law remains an important catalyst for trade and economic development.

Since the days of the Dutch traders in the 1620s, New York has enjoyed the well-earned reputation as an international financial and commercial center. Today our courts and arbitrators are recognized worldwide as fair and impartial, offering predictability, cost efficiency, fairness, neutrality and justice in international business and legal matters. Our body of commercial law is well-developed, and we are a premier center for international arbitration.

However that preeminence is at risk, according to a new report by the New York State Bar Association's Task Force on New York Law in International Matters. The report -recently approved for adoption by the New York State Bar Association's House of Delegates -provides a blueprint to help maintain and strengthen New York's role as a world center for international legal matters in the face of increasing competition from abroad.

The report lays out several examples of those competitive threats. For instance, in 2010, Australia, India and Ireland each established specialized courts to handle international arbitration matters. France, United Kingdom, Switzerland, Sweden and China have designated specialized courts or judges to hear cases to challenge or enforce arbitration awards. New arbitration laws recently were enacted in France, Ireland, Hong Kong, Scotland, Ghana and other nations to enhance their attractiveness as seats of arbitration.

How should New York meet this challenge? The Task Force recommends that New York should establish a permanent center for international arbitration, as well as a council of international law firms to promote and advance the use of New York law. Other recommendations include the following:

• creating a degree of judicial specialization, such as designating particular courts as specialized chambers for international arbitration;

• creating a "rocket docket" in the court's commercial division to expedite international arbitration-related cases;

• using "judicial referee" decisions by New York judges on issues presented to them by foreign courts, rather than by litigants, that require interpretation of New York law;

• promoting domestic and overseas continuing legal education programs on drafting international arbitration agreements; and

• coordinating efforts among groups working to advance New York in international matters.

Stephen P. Younger, our immediate past president, deserves enormous credit for creating this Task Force. Under the leadership of co-chairs Joseph T. McLaughlin (JAMS ADR) and James B. Hurlock, former chairman of White & Case LLP, the Task Force worked with more than 30 major law firms, five law schools, four arbitral institutions, lawyers from Canada, Mexico and Germany, and judges to complete this important report.

Former New York State Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye and former chair of the Bar's Dispute Resolution Section Edna Sussman also deserve our thanks for serving as advisors.

I encourage all of you to take the time to read The Report of Task Force on New York Law in International Matters.(Link: www.nysba.org/InternationalReport.)

The State Bar Association firmly believes that implementing these commonsense recommendations will provide a tremendous boost for New York and our position as an international capital of business, helping ensure that New York law is the definitive standard for cross-border transactions for decades to come. We look forward to working with business and governmental leaders to make this blueprint a reality.

Regards,

Vincent E. Doyle III