Sunday, January 14, 2018

First Call for Presentation Proposals - Global Legal Skills Conference - Melbourne, Australia (Dec. 9-12, 2018)

Global Legal Skills Conference 13

Melbourne, Australia

December 9-12, 2018

Co-Sponsored by Melbourne Law School and The John Marshall Law School-Chicago, in cooperation with the Legal Writing Institute, the American Bar Association Section on International Law, the Teaching International Law Committee of the American Branch of the International Law Association, the International Law Students Association, the American Society of International Law, Scribes—The American Society of Legal Writers, and other organizations.

In holding the GLS-13 Conference at Melbourne Law School, we acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the land where the law school is located: the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to their Elders past, present, and emerging.

First Call for Presentations

Presentation proposals for the GLS-13 Conference are now being accepted on topics relating to legal writing and legal skills education (particularly for lawyers and law students who speak English as a second language), international litigation, comparative and international law, and related subjects.

Please send an email to Prof. Mark E. Wojcik at with the subject line “GLS-13 Proposal.” Include a proposed title, brief description, and proposed speakers. Individual presentations will normally be 15-20 minutes. Panels and roundtables will normally be an hour and include three to five speakers. You may be nominated to be on more than one panel but speakers will normally be given only one speaking opportunity to allow others to participate.

The first call for presentations will be open until February 28, 2018 and decisions made by March 28, 2018. Additional presentation proposals will be accepted until April 30, 2018 if space is still available. Poster presentations will be accepted until November 1, 2018

More Information?

The GLS Website for the Melbourne Conference will launch on February 1, 2018 at with information about registration, travel, hotels, and a preliminary conference schedule. The website for the 2017 GLS conference in Mexico can be viewed at

Additional information about the GLS-13 conference, including sponsorship opportunities, can be had from the Conference Co-Chairs, Prof. Mark E. Wojcik, The John Marshall Law School, Chicago [(312) 987-2391 or] or Dr Chantal Morton, Director of the Legal Academic Skills Centre, Melbourne Law School, The University of Melbourne, Victoria 3010 Australia.

January 14, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, December 22, 2017

U.S. Department of Labor Announces $60 Million in Grants to Help End Child Labor, Forced Labor, and Other Exploitative Labor Practices

The U.S. Department of Labor today announced nearly $60 million in grants to NGOs and a range of organizations to promote labor law enforcement and help end exploitative labor practices in 25 trade partner countries. The grants will support projects to combat some of the most abusive labor practices, including the use of child labor, forced labor, and human trafficking in global supply chains. New technical assistance will also support trade partners’ compliance with the labor requirements of U.S. trade agreements and preference programs.

The new grants are part of a broader departmental effort to combine direct enforcement of trade-related labor commitments with targeted technical assistance to help trade partners who share our commitment, but lack the means, to strengthen the rule of law and fully comply with commitments made in trade agreements.

“Meeting trade agreement labor standards helps to shine a light into the shadowy acts of offenders who use the deplorable path of exploitation of their own people to try and gain an unfair advantage over U.S. competition,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta. “These grants are a useful tool for the U.S. and our allies in our goal of permanently rooting out the despicable practice of labor exploitation.”

Grants announced today by the Department will strengthen and expand efforts to identify, monitor, and combat abusive labor practices abroad that put U.S. businesses and workers at an unfair disadvantage.

Specific issues the projects will address include encouraging partnerships between the coffee industry in Latin America and buyers in the U.S. to develop social compliance systems to combat exploitative labor in their supply chains; working with labor ministries and other labor stakeholders to build their capacity to identify indicators of forced labor and human trafficking; and developing a toolkit to help program implementers reduce the risk of child labor and unacceptable conditions of work in women’s economic empowerment initiatives. Another project will help improve enforcement of minimum wage laws, hours of work and occupational safety, and health laws in the agricultural export sector, helping to ensure U.S. trading partners comply with their labor commitments.

The grants are made available through the Bureau of International Labor Affairs, whose mission is to promote a fair global playing field for workers in the U.S. and around the world by enforcing trade commitments, strengthening labor standards and combating international child labor, forced labor, and human trafficking.

For more information about the Department’s work on international labor issues, visit

(U.S. Department of Labor Press Release)

December 22, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, December 7, 2017

The University of Illinois at Chicago and The John Marshall Law School

The American Bar Association Journal and other media outlets have reported that the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) and The John Marshall Law School (JMLS) of Chicago have been discussing a possible merger that would make JMLS the first public law school in the city of Chicago. If an agreement is reached, the law school would remain at its downtown location next to the Chicago Bar Association and across the street from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit and the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

A page of frequently asked questions about the possible merger provides this additional information:

UIC is one of the few public research universities designated with the highest Research 1 classification by the Carnegie Foundation that does not have a law school. Sixty-five percent of all Research 1 universities, public and private, have a law school.

The John Marshall Law School is an independent law school and the possibility of becoming Chicago’s only public law school would allow it to expand its current mission and grow its quality, unique programs within a strong public university.

A natural alignment exists between UIC’s public mission and JMLS’s commitment to provide access and opportunity to students from underserved communities and to help fill the justice gap for citizens in the Chicago area. The new arrangement would fill a significant void in the country’s third largest city. Chicago is one of very few major cities in the United States without a public law school.

Any merger arrangement would require:

  • approval by the University of Illinois Board of Trustees;
  • approval by The John Marshall Law School Board of Trustees;
  • degree approval from the Illinois Board of Higher Education;
  • approval of a major change in operation from the American Bar Association’s Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar; 
  • approval from the Higher Learning Commission, which is a regional accreditor for both institutions.

The timeline for a merger would also depend on the steps needed to ensure a smooth transition for students, faculty, staff, and alumni of each institution.

Click here to read more.


December 7, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, December 3, 2017

U.S. Abandons the Global Compact on Migration

U.S. Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson announced today that the United States has decided to stop its participation in the U.N. process to develop a Global Compact on Migration (GCM). Secretary Tillerson issued this statement:

Negotiations on the GCM will be based on the New York Declaration, a document adopted by the UN in 2016 that commits to “strengthening global governance” and contains a number of policy goals that are inconsistent with U.S. law and policy.

While we will continue to engage on a number of fronts at the United Nations, in this case, we simply cannot in good faith support a process that could undermine the sovereign right of the United States to enforce our immigration laws and secure our borders.

The United States supports international cooperation on migration issues, but it is the primary responsibility of sovereign states to help ensure that migration is safe, orderly, and legal.

The Global Compact on Migration arose from the September 2016 New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, when 193 U.N. Member States adopted a political declaration (U.N. Doc. A/71/L.1) in which Member States committed to:

  • protect the safety, dignity and human rights and fundamental freedoms of all migrants, regardless of their migratory status, and at all times;
  • support countries rescuing, receiving and hosting large numbers of refugees and migrants;
  • integrate migrants in humanitarian and development assistance frameworks and planning;
  • combat xenophobia, racism, and discrimination towards all migrants;
  • develop, through a state-led process, non-binding principles and voluntary guidelines on the treatment of migrants in vulnerable situations; and
  • strengthen global governance of migration, including by bringing International Organization for Migration (IOM) into the United Nations family and through the development of a global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration

Click here to read more about the Global Compact on Migration.

Hat tip to Paul Johnson


December 3, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Legislation Introduced to Repeal FACTA

U.S. Senators Rand Paul (R-KY) and Roger Wicker (R-MS) introduced legislation to repeal the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA). U.S. Representative Mark Meadows (R-NC) introduced a companion bill in the U.S. House. FACTA, a federal statute enacted in 2010, requires foreign financial institutions to report private financial information on U.S. citizens or else face a 30% withholding tax on U.S.-source income.

In response to the law, many foreign banks simply choose to deny any banking services to U.S. citizens because of the burdens and costs of compliance and fear of running afoul of the law.

Adapted from a news release from Senator Rand Paul.



December 2, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, December 1, 2017

Five Judges Elected to the ICJ, Marking First Time that the United Kingdom is Not Represented on the Court

The U.N. General Assembly and Security Council elected five judges last month to the International Court of Justice (ICJ). After five rounds of simultaneous voting, Ronny Abraham (France), Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf (Somalia), and Antônio Augusto Cançado Trindade (Brazil) were re-elected to the ICJ and Nawaf Salam (Lebanon) was elected for the first time. A run-off between sitting judges Christopher Greenwood (UK) and Dalveer Bhandari (India) was held for the fifth seat on the court. With overwhelming support for Judge Bhandari in the General Assembly, the United Kingdom withdrew Judge Greenwood's candidacy, marking the first time in the history of the court that the ICJ will not have a British judge. Some observers characterized the development as fallout from Brexit. (mew)

December 1, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

ICTY Convicts Ratko Mladić of Genocide in Srebrenica and Other Crimes

The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) convicted Ratko Mladić, who served as a Commander of the Bosnian Serb Army from 1992 to 1996, “of genocide and persecution, extermination, murder, and the inhumane act of forcible transfer in the area of Srebrenica in 1995; of persecution, extermination, murder, deportation and inhumane act of forcible transfer in municipalities throughout Bosnia-Herzegovina; of murder, terror and unlawful attacks on civilians in Sarajevo; and of hostage-taking of UN personnel.” Mladić was sentenced to life imprisonment.


December 1, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Former U.S. National Security Advisor Pleads Guilty to Lying to the FBI

Michael Flynn, President Trump’s former national security adviser, pleaded guilty today to lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. about conversations he had last December with the Russian ambassador during the presidential transition. According to a report in the New York Times, Mr. Flynn acknowledged that he was cooperating with Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III, who is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election in the United States. (mew)

December 1, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Be a Jessup Judge in Ukraine

If your schedule and personal travel budget allow, please consider being a Judge in the 2018 Ukrainian Rounds of the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition. The competition will be held in Ukraine from 9-11 February, 2018. Register at before 10 December 2017.

The 2017-2018 season marks the 59th year of the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition. Jessup is the world's largest moot court competition, with participants from over 645 law schools in at least 95 countries (and this year, maybe more than 100 countries!). The Competition is a simulation of a fictional dispute between countries before the International Court of Justice, the judicial organ of the United Nations. One team is allowed to participate from every eligible school. Teams prepare oral and written pleadings arguing both the applicant and respondent positions of the case.For other information about the Jessup competition, visit the Jessup Page on the website of the International Law Students Association by clicking here.

And yes, judges are also needed in at least 94 other countries, so please visit the Jessup Page to register as a judge.


November 29, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Job Opening for a Russian-Speaking Staff Attorney with the ABA Center for Human Rights – Justice Defenders

The American Bar Association Center for Human Rights is seeking an experienced staff attorney to join its Justice Defenders Program. Candidates with substantial experience living and working in Eurasia are encouraged to apply. All applicants must have authorization to work in the United States. The ABA does not sponsor visas. Russian fluency is required.

The Justice Defenders Program provides pro bono legal assistance to human rights advocates working in difficult environments and vulnerable circumstances by: advising on, and raising public awareness of, sensitive trials and cases; connecting pro bono lawyers with requisite expertise with local lawyers to provide advice on international law standards, share best practices, and assist in developing advocacy and litigation strategies; and observing trials that have garnered local, regional, or international attention or have the potential of changing the law, for better or worse, within the country, and providing analysis of those trials. The Justice Defenders Program’s global reach enables it to help human rights defenders in virtually any country. Contact the ABA Center for Human Rights for more information about this job position.

November 26, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, November 20, 2017

Transgender Day of Remembrance

Today, November 20, 2017, is the International Transgender Day of Remembrance. U.S. Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson issued the following statement:
On Transgender Day of Remembrance, the United States honors the memory of the many transgender individuals who have lost their lives to acts of violence.
Transgender individuals and their advocates, along with lesbian, gay, bisexual and intersex persons, are facing increasing physical attacks and arbitrary arrests in many parts of the world. Often these attacks are perpetrated by government officials, undermining the rule of law.
Transgender persons should not be subjected to violence or discrimination, and the human rights they share with all persons should be respected.
On this Transgender Day of Remembrance, the United States remains committed to advancing the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all persons. These principles are inherent in our own Constitution and drive the diplomacy of the United States.

November 20, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, October 27, 2017

Investment Dispute Settlement in the Americas

Investment Arbitration ABA-SIL MiamiThe Fall Meeting of the American Bar Association Section of International Law concludes today in Miami, finishing a week of outstanding substantive panels on various aspects of transnational business, foreign investment, and international law, and with a special focus on Latin America and the Caribbean.

One of the final panels was on investment dispute settlement in the Americas, including disputes under bilateral and multilateral treaties applicable in the Americas:

  • NAFTA (Canada and Mexico, 1994, currently being renegotiated)
  • Chile (2004)
  • Colombia (2012)
  • DR CAFTA (the Dominican Republic Central America Free Trade Agreement, with the United States and the nations of Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua, with different dates of entry into force)
  • Panama (2012)
  • Peru (2009)

The panel also considered other bilateral treaties that the United States has with various nations of Latin America and the Caribbean, including:

  • Argentina (1994)
  • Bolivia (2001, terminated in 2012)
  • Ecuador (1994)
  • Grenada (1989)
  • Honduras (2001)
  • Panama (2001)
  • Trinidad & Tobago (1996)
  • Uruguay (2006)

The panel moderator was Viren Mascarenhas (King & Spalding LLP). Other speakers were Laura Sinisterra (Debevoise & Plimpton LLP) and Shane Spelliscy (Trade Law Bureau, Government of Canada). The panel chair was Paula Henin (Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom LLP) who was also a speaker on the panel.

The panel discussed new developments and trends in international investment arbitration, including the "Mauritius Convention on Transparency," formally known as the United Nations Convention on Transparency in Treaty-based Investor-State Arbitration. The Mauritius Convention entered into effect just 10 days ago, on October 18, 2017. It is an instrument by which Parties to investment treaties concluded before 1 April 2014 agree to apply the UNCITRAL Rules on Transparency in Treaty-based Investor-State Arbitration,  a set of procedural rules to make information publicly available on investor-State arbitrations under investment treaties. Although it has been signed by a number of countries (including the United States), so far only Canada, Mauritius, and Switzerland have ratified that treaty (and that was enough to bring the treaty into effect 10 days ago).



October 27, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Ethics of Client Communication with New Media in a Global Pracitce

The American Bar Association Section of International Law continues today in Miami. One of the CLE panels is on the ethics of client communications with new media in a global practice.

The panel moderator was Alexandra Darraby (The Art Law Firm, Los Angeles), co-chair of the ABA Section of International Law International Legal Ethics Committee and co-chair of the ABA Section of International Law New Media and Innovation Committee. The panelists were David M. Levine (Carey Rodriguez Milian Gonya LLP, Miami) and Ekaterina Schoenefeld (Schoenefeld Law Firm LLC, Princeton, New Jersey).

Social Media Ethics ABA-SIL MiamiThe panel discussed ethical issues and recent U.S. federal and state court decisions involving a large number of social media and electronic communication platforms, including:

  • Facebook
  • Google Plus
  • Google Translate
  • Instagram
  • Kik
  • LinkedIn
  • MeetMe (a social networking service)
  • MocoSpace (a mobile gaming community)
  • MySpace
  • Snapchat
  • Tagged (a social networking service)
  • Twitter
  • WhatsApp
  • Yik Yak (a social media smartphone application)

The panel raised a number of practical tips, such as a warning on using Google Translate with discovery documents (because the service is not confidential and searches done using Google Translate are discoverable).

The panel did not mention any active litigation matters involving the International Law Prof Blog.

One new resource for attorneys interested in these issues is the Handbook of Global Social Media Law for Business Lawyers, edited by John Isaza and Valerie Surgenor and published by the ABA Business Law Section. The book covers employees and social media, social media as evidence, cybersecurity, electronic defamation, and specific social media legislation for a number of countries including Australia, Brazil, Cambodia, Canada India, Indonesia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and Vietnam.


October 27, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Latin American Leadership in Gender Equality

Women in Latin AmericaThe Fall Meeting of the American Bar Association Section of International Law continues today in Miami with CLE panels, a luncheon, and a closing reception. One CLE program held today considers the advances Latin America has made in gender equality. The program noted that a 2016 study of 583 companies in 42 countries worldwide documented that although gender diversity was expected to generally stagnate in the next decade, women in Latin America are expected to hold 45 to 50% of all executive positions in corporations by 2025.

The panel, titled "Deconstructing the Myth of Machismo: Latin America's Leadership in Gender Equality," was moderated by the nationally-renowned journalist Eleanor Clift (former Newsweek correspondent, panelist on the McLaughlin Group, and author of books such as Madam President and Founding States and the Nineteenth Amendment). The speakers were:

  • Brigida Benitez (Steptoe & Johnson LLP), a past president of the District of Columbia Bar (the second largest unified bar in the country, with more than 100,000 members worldwide) and an adjunct professor at Georgetown University Law Center. She has been recognized by Hispanic Business magazine as a “Woman of the Year” and one of the “100 most influential US Hispanics,” and by Latino Leaders magazine as one of the “25 Most Influential Hispanic Lawyers.”
  • Juliana van Waveren, a senior consultant at Mercer LLC, who spoke on the comprehensive research study called "When Women Thrive, Businesses Thrive." That is also the name of Mercer's global research and solution platform designed to help organizations drive growth through the active and productive participation of their female workforce.
  • Judith I. Lichtman (National Partnership for Women & Families), a guiding and influential force in the women's movement for more than 40 years, and a former president of the National Partnership for Women & Families.

The panel chair was the Honorable Delissa A. Ridgeway, a judge of the U.S. Court of International Trade who has helped the ABA Section of International Law create some of its most interesting and engaging CLE panels.


October 27, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Legal Ethics as Shown in Movies and Television Shows

Legal Ethics Panel ABA-SIL MiamiThe Fall Meeting of the American Bar Association Section of International Law concludes today in Miami. Panels on this last day included a popular legal ethics program. Using short video clips from a variety of movies and television shows, the panel discussed how particular ethical situations would be handled under the ethics rules of the United States, Mexico, and Peru. The speakers were Robert A. Anguiera (Robert A. Anguira P.A., Miami); Eduardo Benevides (Berninzon & Benavides Abogados, Lima Peru); and Andres Nieto (Van Wobeser y Sierra S.C., Mexico City); and Robert J. Misey, Jr. (Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren S.C., Chicago and Milwaukee).

Movie and television clips included:

  • The Rainmaker, where Matt Damon plays Rudy Baylor, a rookie lawyer in over his head on a high-profile case. Rule 1.1 of the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct requires a lawyer to "provide competent representation to a client. Competent representation requires the legal knowledge, skill, thoroughness and preparation reasonably necessary for the representation."
  • Primal Fear, in which Richard Gear plays an attorney who changes the label on a VHS tape that has potential use as evidence in the case he's working on. Rule 3.4 of the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct provides that a lawyer "shall not alter or conceal material having evidentiary value."
  • Suits, a television show in which Lewis, a junior partner, is caught by opposing counsel attempting to bribe a potential witness. Opposing counsel then uses this attempted bribe to force a favorable settlement for his client. The senior partners appear to condone the proposed settlement. The clip of the television show considered ethical responsibilities to partners, managers, and supervisory lawyers. The applicable rules from the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct included: (1) Rule 5.1(a), which provides that "A partner in a law firm, and a lawyer who individually or together with other lawyers possesses comparable managerial authority in a law firm, shall make reasonable efforts to ensure that the firm has in effect measures giving reasonable assurance that all lawyers in the firm conform to the Rules of Professional Conduct."; (2) Rule 5.2(a), which provides  that "A lawyer is bound by the Rules of Professional Conduct notwithstanding that the lawyer acted at the direction of another person."; and (3) Rule 8.3(a), which provides that "A lawyer who knows that another lawyer has committed a violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct that raises a substantial question as to that lawyer's honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer in other respects, shall inform the appropriate professional authority."
  • Crazy Like a Fox, a show involving a man wrongly accused of murdering his wife (who had not actually been killed). Because he served 12 years for his time for that crime, the man goes to a lawyer to ask whether he would get a "freebie" on a future crime (killing his wife for real this time).  Applicable rules from the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduce included Rule 1.6(b), which provides in part that "A lawyer may reveal information relating to the representation of a client to the extent the lawyer reasonably believes necessary: (1) to prevent reasonably certain death or substantial bodily harm; or (2) to prevent the client from committing a crime or fraud that is reasonably certain to result in substantial injury to the financial interests or property of another and in furtherance of which the client has used or is using the lawyer's services."
  • L.A. Law, in an episode where a murderer confesses to an attorney while confirming the existence of attorney-client privilege so that the attorney would be unable to testify against him, and Anatomy of a Murder, his which a lawyer coaches a defendant on the testimony he should give to excuse a murder. Rule 3.4(b) of the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct provides in part that a lawyer shall not "counsel or assist a witness to testify falsely" and Rule 3.3(a)(3) provides in part that a lawyer shall not knowingly "offer evidence that the lawyer knows to be false."
  • The Client, in which a young boy who witnessed the suicide of a mafia lawyer hires an attorney (Susan Sarandon) to protect him when the District Attorney tries to use him to take down a mafia family. The boy only has a dollar to pay his lawyer. Rule 1.5(a) of the Model Rule provides in part that a fee has to be reasonable: "A lawyer shall not make an agreement for, charge, or collect an unreasonable fee or an unreasonable amount for expenses." The discussion question was whether a small fee could be an unreasonable fee.
  • The Verdict, in which a lawyer (Paul Newman) fails to inform his client of a settlement offer (and violated Rule 1.4 of the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct).
  • El Secreto de Sus Ojos (The Secret of Your Eyes), a movie from Argentina, in which a retired legal counselor writes a novel hoping to find closure for one of his past unresolved homicide cases.

After presenting each clip and the applicable U.S. Model Rule, lawyers from Mexico and Peru compared the situation under the ethical rules in their countries. Watching the clips was an enjoyable way to consider the ethical rules applicable to each situation presented.


October 27, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, October 26, 2017

International Law and International Litigation in U.S. Domestic Courts

Judicial Panel ABA MiamiThe Fall Meeting of the American Bar Association Section of International Law continues this week in Miami, Florida. One showcase panel considered how U.S. judges view international litigation and international law. The speakers were a federal district court judge (the Honorable Ursula Ungaro, Judge of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida) and a Florida State Court judge (the Honorable John Thornton, Eleventh Judicial Circuit of Florida). The moderator was Steven Richman, Chair of the ABA Section of International Law. The panel discussed a variety of issues that arise in international litigation, including:

  • serving process on defendants who reside in other countries, using the Hague Service Convention and by other methods of actual service (including service by Facebook and other social media), and issues that arise with establishing personal jurisdiction over foreign defendants; 
  • the adequacy of alternative forums when arguing a motion to dismiss for forum non conveniens, or whether forum non conveniens can be a defense to enforcement of a foreign arbitral award under the New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcemnt of Foreign Arbitral Awards, or in an action under the Montreal Convention (the Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules for International Carriage by Air, 28 May 1999);
  • problems that arise when a state constitution or state statute purports to prohibit courts from considering international and foreign law, because eleven states (Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Louisiana, Kansas, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Washington) have enacted legislation restricting the application of foreign or religious law in state courts. Click here to read more about state restrictions on using foreign or religious law.
  • blocking enforcement of foreign defamation judgments in U.S. courts unless the party seeking enforcement complies with the federal statute called the "Securing the Protection of our Enduring and Established Constitutional Heritage" Act (the "SPEECH Act");
  • different rules for attorney-client privilege in different jurisdictions and other issues that arise when seeking discovery.


October 26, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

International Arbitration and Litigation as Mechanisms to Protect Investments in Latin America

ABA-SIL ArbitrationThe Fall Meeting of the American Bar Association Section of International Law is continuing in Miami with a number of substantive panels. One panel was on international arbitration and litigation as mechanisms to protect investments in Latin America.

The panel moderator was Ricardo Henrique Safini Gama (Veirano Advogados, Brazil). Panelists included: William D. Wood (Norton Rose Fulbright, Houston), who spoke on U.S. litigation arising out of corruption scandals in Latin America; Nicole Duclos (Covington & Burling, New York), who discussed issues relating to corruption in international commercial arbitration and the interaction of criminal investigations with international commercial arbitration proceedings; Barry Appleton (Managing Partner at Appleton & Associates International, Toronto and Washington, D.C.), who spoke about investment treaty arbitration as another route to combat corruption; and Rachel Giesber Clingman (Vice Presidentl for Petroleum and Minerals Americas at BHP Billiton), who described the role of in-house counsel in avoiding and reporting corruption.

Some points from the presentation:

  • Corruption is pernicious and stifles development.
  • Remember that a foreign state will not have immunity under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA) when a suit is based on commercial activities in the United States (such as trading U.S. securities) or when property is taken in violation of international law (28 U.S.C. sec. 1605). When basing a suit on securities or investor agreements, look for contractual consent to U.S. jurisdiction.
  • Of the 87 companies whose 2016 public filings disclosed that they were the subject of ongoing and unresolved investigations under the Foreign Corrupt Practice Act, 26 companies are in Latin America.
  • Arbitrators will always be concerned about allegations of corruption in an arbitration proceeding because they want their arbitral decisions to be enforceable, and an allegation of corruption may derail enforcement.
  • If a country raises corruption on the part of the claimant as an issue in an investment-state arbitration, the tribunal will usually dismiss the proceeding. But if the claimant raises corruption on the part of the government, the tribunal will investigate that claim.

Click here to read more about anti-corruption trends across Latin America.


October 25, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

CISG Veterans and Newcomers: Brazil, Cuba, and CISG Latin American Countries

CISG Panel ABA-SIL MiamiThe U.N. Convention on the International Sale of Goods (CISG) has been ratified by a number of countries in Latin America, including Argentina (1988), Mexico (1989), Cuba (1994), and, most recently, Brazil (2014). Many attorneys routinely exclude application of the CISG, however, probably because they've never taken the time to learn about the CISG and advantages that attach to a contract governed by the CISG. Other countries, such as Panama, are still not parties to the CISG, but operate under its own commercial law and perhaps bilateral commercial treaties. Countries that have ratified the CISG also have their own commercial domestic laws, including the Brazilian Commercial Code (first promulgated in 1850, revised in 2002 and still under review since 2011), the Commercial Code of Cuba (first promulgated in 1886, and re-enacted in 2012), and the Commercial Code of Mexico (dating back to 1889, revised as recently at 2014).

A CLE panel at the Fall Meeting of the American Bar Association Section of International Law explored the CISG in terms of countries that are long-time parties to the Convention, newcomers to the Convention (most notably Brazil, where the CISG entered into effect three years ago on October 16, 2014), countries (like Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Panama) that are still not parties to the CISG, and a country (Costa Rica) that will join the CISG next year. The panel was sponsored by the International Transportation Committee of the ABA Section of International Law and co-sponsored by the International Trade Committee; the Committee on International Commercial Transactions, Franchising, and Distribution; the Latin American and Caribbean Committee of the ABA Section of International Law; and the Cuban Law Subcommittee of the Florida Bar Association Section of International Law.

The Panel Chair was Attilio Costabel of Costabel P.A. in Miami. Panel speakers included: James M. Meyer (Harper Meyer, Miami); Ivette Martinez Saenz (IMS Legal); Henry Rodriquez (Nassar Abogdos, San Jose, Costa Rica), Victor Fernandes (Basch & Rameh, Sao Paolo Brazil); and Pedro A. Freyre (Akerman, LLC, Miami, who presented on behalf of Professor C. Narciso Cobo Roura from the Cuban Commercial Arbitration Court, who had been denied a visa to present at the ABA conference in Miami).

Here are some nuggets from the panel:

  • Where a contract is governed by the CISG, a federal court in the United States would have federal question jurisdiction (because the CISG is an international treaty to which the United States is a party).
  • State courts in Brazil have jurisdiction with respect to claims involving the international sale of goods.
  • The first court decision in Brazil directly applying the CISG was Noridane v. Anexo (14 Feb. 2017, Appellate Court of the State of Rio Grande do Sol), popularly known as "the Chicken Feet Case."
  • Panama's failure to join the CISG has not severely affected import-export in Panama, but ratification of the CISG may increase international business opportunities for Panama.
  • Central America is not integrated economically or legally -- important differences exist in each country in Central America. For example, while El Salvador and Honduras are parties to the CISG; there is no movement in Guatemala or Nicaragua to join the CISG.
  • Even though El Salvador and Honduras are parties to the CISG, courts in those countries are likely to apply local commercial law rather than the CISG (because courts may not know about the CISG, because materials on the CISG are not available in Spanish, or because it may simply be easier for judges in those countries to apply local commercial law).
  • The CISG is expected to enter into effect for Costa Rica in August 2018 (Statute No. 9421).
  • Legal provisions in forms that are valid in the United States may not necessarily work in other countries.
  • A Cuban Commercial Court has ruled that the CISG is part of the law of Cuba. Laudio No. 19/2013, Emiat v. Agrapisa.


October 25, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

ABA Section of International Law Fall Meeting in Miami

PlenaryThe American Bar Association Section of International Law holds its Fall Meeting this week in Miami. The opening Power Plenary focused on Women Entrepreneurs in the International Arena.

Speakers included Maria Cardenas (Reed Smith), Melissa Medina (eMerge Americas), Constance Collins (Sundari Foundation), Lisette Calderon (Calderon Holdings of Florida), and Meeting Co-Chair Melissa Pallett-Vasquez (Bilzin Sumberg Baena Price & Axelrod LLP of Miami).

The Fall Meeting of the ABA Section of International Law continues through Friday at the JW Marriott Marquis Hotel in Miami.


October 25, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 9, 2017

International Law Weekend 2017 - Program and Registration Information

Fordham Law SchoolThe American Branch of the International Law Association (AmBranch or ABILA) and the International Law Students Association (ILSA) are about to host yet another edition of the popular and well-worth-your-time International Law Weekend from October 19-21, 2017 in New York City. The theme of the 2017 meeting -- the 96th ABILA Annual Meeting -- is "International Law in Challenging Times."

A link to the program is here. As with other conferences, check for updates and changes to the program.

The International Law Weekend begins Thursday evening, October 19, 2017 with a distinguished opening panel at the New York City Bar (42 W. 44th

Street). The panel will include Prof. Martin Flaherty, Co-Director of the Leitner Center for International Law and Justice; Ambassador Elinor Hammarskjöld, Director General for Legal Affairs of the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Stockholm; Lucinda A. Low, Partner at Steptoe & Johnson, LLP, and President of the American Society of International Law; and D. Stephen Mathias, Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations for Legal Affairs (and head of the Office of the Legal Counsel). ABILA President David P. Stewart will moderate. A reception will follow.

The conference continues Friday, October 20 and Saturday, October 21, 2017 at Fordham University School of Law (150 West 62nd Street). Friday’s activities feature a keynote address by Sir Christopher Greenwood, a Judge on the International Court of Justice. On Friday evening, a reception will be generously hosted by the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Bulgaria to the United Nations. You must register in advance for that reception, and usually it’s a sellout.

The registration link is at  The event is free for law students. General registration is just $50.

Mark E. Wojcik (mew).

October 9, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)