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February 20, 2012

E Mail Contracting and the “Agreement in Writing” Requirement of the New York Convention

1999 was not so very long ago. And over the last dozen years some areas of the law have necessarily moved rapidly to keep pace with developments in technology and their impact on how business is conducted.  That has not necessarily been the case in every corner of the law of international commercial arbitration.  Until a few weeks ago, counsel looking for guidance in US law on the “agreement in writing” requirement of the New York Convention could read, unhelpfully, a 1999 decision of the US Second Circuit Court of Appeals in Kahn Lucas Lancaster, Inc. v. Lark International, Ltd.,…
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February 08, 2012

US Second Circuit’s View of “Evident Partiality”: Out of Synch With International Practice?

A tale from the Second Circuit: Two reinsurance executives regularly sitting as arbitrators were appointed, respectively, as party-appointed arbitrator and “umpire” (presiding arbitrator) in a reinsurance arbitration. While the case was pending but before the hearing, the same individuals were appointed, again as party-appointed arbitrator and umpire, in a second arbitration that bore certain relationships to the first. There was a similar but not identical issue of contract interpretation. There was a common witness whose testimony was important in each case. And there was a business connection, essentially successorship, between Claimant in Arbitration 1 and Respondent in Arbitration 2. These…
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January 31, 2012

Second Circuit Explains Decision to Vacate Chevron’s Global Anti-Enforcement-of-Judgment Injunction

Last year Chevron, as judgment debtor for a $17.2 billion environmental damages judgment issued by an Ecuador court, convinced a US district judge in New York to issue a global anti-enforcement injunction preventing the Ecuadorean parties from seeking enforcement of that judgment anywhere.  Late last year the US Second Circuit Court of Appeals issued an order vacating that injunction, but its written opinion, explaining why the injunction was improper, was not issued until now.   As you will see http://www.ca2.uscourts.gov/decisions/isysquery/83c7e33b-75ca-4735-acec-95593be09f03/2/doc/11-1150_op.pdf , the Court states that New York’s statute providing for recognition of foreign country money judgments cannot be invoked affirmatively…
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January 25, 2012

An Exceptional, and Proper, Judical Anti-Arbitration Injunction

Faithful readers of Arbitration Commentaries will be familiar with several principles that are repeated in the cases discussed in this space.   One, mentioned in last week’s post concerning the DC Circuit’s vacatur of a investment arbitration award, is that US courts generally find “clear and unmistakable evidence” of an agreement to arbitrate “arbitrability” issues when the parties select rules, like the UNCITRAL Rules, that confer power on arbitrators to decide objections to their jurisdiction.  Another principle, mentioned for example in a post in November 2011 concerning a Second Circuit decision involving American Express, is that the Federal Arbitration Act does not…
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January 18, 2012

US Appellate Review of a BIT Award: Unmistakably Unclear

In a commentary appearing in this space a few months ago, after the Ontario Court of Appeal’s decision in Government of Mexico v. Cargill, I suggested that American courts might decide the scope of judicial review of an investment treaty tribunal’s determination of its own jurisdiction by concluding that the parties’ agreement to resolve disputes by arbitration under the UNCITRAL Rules constitutes “clear and unmistakable evidence” of the treaty parties’ intent to have arbitrators decide jurisdiction issues with the same latitude that they decide the merits.  In a decision yesterday, the federal court of appeals in Washington D.C. appeared to…
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January 15, 2012

An Appellate Rescue for the New York Convention

The US Court of Appeals in Washington, DC holds that the New York Convention supplies the exclusive grounds for a federal district court to adjourn an award confirmation proceeding, and that such grounds do not include a pending proceeding to nullify the award against a foreign State, in its courts, when that State was not the place of arbitration. Not new news you say — quite rightly. But yesterday’s decision by the DC Circuit (Belize Social Development Ltd. v. Government of Belize, 2012 WL 104462 (D.C. Cir. Jan. 13, 2012), is significant for at least two reasons. First, the federal…
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