May 8, 2009
The Future of Transnational Litigation
The American Bar Association Section of International Law and the International Bar Association Litigation Committee will present a joint program in Vienna Austria on June 4-5, 2009 on the future of Transnational Litigation. Click here for more information.
UN Convention Against Corruption
Chief executives from some of the world's leading companies have thrown their support behind the UN Convention against Corruption -- a treaty signed by 140 countries and ratified by 136 to date. The letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon called the Convention as "an essential instrument in the fight against corruption," which is crucial in the current period of financial and economic turmoil to prevent an "erosion of ethical standards that will be hard to reverse." They also underscored the importance for the Conference of States Parties to the Convention, held in Doha in November, to establish an effective implementation review mechanism.
May 7, 2009
Global Legal Skills Conference IV (GLS-IV) at Georgetown University
Here's a reminder about the upcoming Global Legal Skills Conference to be held next month in Washington DC at the Georgetown University Law Center. Click here for program and registration information.
May 6, 2009
A Different View of Free Speech Across the Pond
The Washington Post reported today that Britain has banned 16 persons for "fostering extremism or hatred," including six Americans. Among them is conservative radio talk show host, Michael Savage. U.K. Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, stated that Savage is responsible for "fomenting hatred" and has "extreme views" that are expressed in such a way that "it is likely to cause inter-community tension or even violence if that person were allowed into the country." She stated that Britain is not willing to have such behavior in the country. Savage reportedly responded to the ban by threatening a defamation suit against Smith, stating that he had never advocated any violence.
Savage's statement refers to the legal standard for unlawful speech in the United States, which is sometimes expressed as incitement to imminent violence. However, European governments have more power to restrict speech under the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR) than the U.S. government does under its constitution. Thus, Savage's speech must be assessed under a different legal standard. While Article 10 of the ECHR recognizes the right to freedom of expression, it also states that:
"The exercise of these freedoms, since it carries with it duties and responsibilities, may be subject to such formalities, conditions, restrictions or penalties as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society, in the interests of national security, territorial integrity or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, for the protection of the reputation or the rights of others, for preventing the disclosure of information received in confidence, or for maintaining the authority and impartiality of the judiciary."
Presumably, Britain would assert that Savage's speech may be banned because it is contrary to public safety and is likely to cause disorder. Britain's civil libertarians quoted in the article have questioned the procedures by which persons are added to the list, but have not argued that Britain does not have the power to ban persons based on the content of their speech. This result may seem quite foreign (pun intended) to an American audience accustomed to a legal system that is very protective of free speech, even hateful speech, as long as that speech is not likely to lead to imminent violent action. However, Europe's more retrictive view may to some extent be explained by its history and experience with Nazism.
May 4, 2009
Seventh Circuit Dismisses Argentine Cases on Forum Non Conveniens Grounds
On Friday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit upheld a District Court's decision to dismiss a consolidated lawsuit by Argentineans against U.S. corporations in favor of litigation in Argentine courts pursuant to the doctrine of forum non conveniens. The Abad lawsuit is a class action against Bayer Corporation in which 600 plaintiff hemophiliacs (or their deceased) alleged that they were infected with the AIDS virus when using defendants' blood clotting factors because defendants failed to take appropriate steps to eliminate the virus. The Pastor case is a wrongful death suit against Bridgestone/Firestone relating to allegedly faulty tires that caused a fatal automobile accident. While acknowledging the presumption in favor of the plaintiffs' choice of forum, the Court weighed a number of factors and ultimately held that the balance of interests tipped in favor of litigation in Argentina. The Court noted that the alleged torts occurred in Argentina, many of the witnesses are located there, and Argentinean law would apply to the dispute. The Court stated that the plaintiffs were being required to litigate in their home forum, which should not impose greater difficulties or costs. The Seventh Circuit's decision can be found here.
CSLSA Annual Call for Presentation Proposals
Once again this year, the Central States Law Schools Association (CSLSA) is hosting an annual conference which is dedicated to promoting scholarly activities. CSLSA is soliciting proposals from law professors who would like to present works in progress or recently completed works at the conference on any law-related topic. Last year, we had some great presentations on international and comparative law topics by Greg Gordon, Milena Sterio, Sue Liemer, and Allen Blair. This year's conference will be held in Columbus, Ohio at Capital University School of Law on October 23-24, 2009. Although CSLSA is composed primarily of law schools located in the midwest, you do not have to be from a member school to participate. Presentation proposals are due August 31. For more information, go to the CSLSA website.
Fiji Suspended from Pacific Islands Forum
Fiji has been suspended from the Pacific Islands Forum and told that there was no place for a regime that displayed “such a total disregard for basic human rights.” The Pacific Islands Forum is a 16 nation group that represents common interests of Pacific island nations. Click here to read more about Fiji's suspension from the Pacific Islands Forum.