January 8, 2011
U.S.-Cuba Migration Talks
The U.S. State Department has announced that representatives from the governments of the United States and Cuba will meet in Havana on January 12 to hold the fourth round of migration talks. According to the U.S. State Department, these talks provide an opportunity "to discuss policies and procedures that promote safe, legal orderly migration." In the past, the talks have also given these two governments the opportunity to explore other related issues of mutual concern. This author hopes these talks will continue to provide a forum for these governments to find areas of cooperation and improved relations.
January 5, 2011
Choice of English Law Determinative Factor in Forum Selection
In international commercial litigation news, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit recently issued a decision regarding an ambiguous forum selection clause that may provide guidance to practitioners of international commercial law. In Albemarle Corp. v. AstraZeneca UK Ltd., No. 10-1000 (4th Cir. Dec. 8, 2010), AstraZeneca UK Ltd., based in the United Kingdom, contracted with Albemarle International Corp., a Virginia corporation with manufacturing facilities in South Carolina, for the purchase of a chemical used in the manufacture of an anesthetic. A dispute arose between the parties regarding the terms of the contract and Albemarle filed suit in state court in South Carolina. AztraZeneca removed the case to federal court based on diversity jurisdiction. It then filed a motion to dismiss based on a contractual choice of law and forum selection clause which provided that the contract ‘shall be subject to English Law and the jurisdiction of the English High Court.' Under U.S. law, selection of a non-U.S. court is usually presumed to be non-exclusive unless the language of the contract clearly states to the contrary. Here, AstraZeneca successfully argued that another rule requires the court to give effect to the intent of the parties. The selection of an English court, combined with the selection of English law, was enough to overcome the presumption against exclusivity thus requiring the matter to be litigated in the U.K. More details about the case may be found here.
International Council on Women’s Business Leadership
On December 30, 2010, the U.S. Department of State announced that it would establish the International Council on Women’s Business Leadership, to provide advice and assistance in the formulation of U.S. policy, positions, proposals, and strategies for multilateral and bilateral negotiations, business outreach, and commercial diplomacy. Get more details by clicking here to see the Federal Register at page 82424. FR82424.
Hat tip to the ABA Governmental Affairs Office.
Global Legal Skills Conference - Proposals for Presentation at the Conference in Chicago
The sixth Global Legal Skills Conference will take place on May 5-7, 2011 at The John Marshall Law School in Chicago. Persons interested in making a presentation or organizing a panel for the conference should submit proposals to the Planning Committee by January 31, 2011, by sending it to 7wojcik[at]jmls.edu.
You will be notified as to whether your proposal has been accepted by the middle of February. There is no particular format for proposals. Some proposals may be quite detailed, while others might have just the title of the proposal, a brief description (unless it is clear from the title), and contact information for presenters. You might propose an entire panel, or just an individual presentation that we might combine with others. Submissions are welcome on all aspects of international legal skills education, with a special (but not exclusive) focus on teaching students who speak English as a second language. Previous conferences also included presentations on Legal Spanish, on teaching Trial Advocacy in Ireland, on legal translations, and on other aspects of international legal education and teaching international law. Most presentations will focus on the special educational aspects of teaching students trained in other languages and other, frequently non-common law, legal traditions.
In your proposal, please let us know how much time you will need. Please choose 20 or 50 minutes. Please also let us know where your proposal fits within the following categories:
1. How to teach: Tips for those who teach international students either here or abroad.
2. How to do: Tips by and for U.S. and foreign practitioners who have global practices.
3. Curricular development: Presentations on what schools offer, or should be offering, their foreign students.
4. What it's all about: Lessons on law/culture/practice in other countries.
5. Developing Materials: Ideas on developing materials for class.
6. Other: Anything that does not fit within the other categories.
Please send any questions to Mark Wojcik by email at mwojcik[at]jmls.edu or intlawprof[at]gmail.com.
January 4, 2011
January 2011 is Designated as "National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month"
On December 30, 2010, President Obama issued a proclamation to declare January 2011 as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. Events will culminate in the annual celebration of National Freedom Day on February 1, 2011. The resolution calls upon the United States to recognize the vital role it plays in ending modern slavery and to observe the month with appropriate programs and activities. Click here for more information. FR82215.
Hat tip to the ABA Governmental Affairs Office.
US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Reverses Itself in Armenian Genocide Case
In 2009, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held that the State of California's law extending the statute of limitations under certain insurance policies for victims of Armenian genocide was preempted by the federal policy against recognition of Armenian genocide. See Movsesian v. Victoria Versicherung AG, No. 07-56722. The Court's 2009 decision was based on certain informal statements by the executive branch opposing official recognition of Armenian genocide due to the potentially negative impact that would have on U.S.-Turkish relations.
On rehearing, the Court withdrew its initial opinion, finding that there is no clear federal policy. Instead, there are conflicting statements by the federal government, some recognizing the Armenian genocide and some refusing to do so. California's regulation of insurance is a traditional state function and the impact of its statute on foreign relations is likely incidental in light of the fact that 39 other states also have state statutes that recognize the Armenian genocide. The Court's December 2010 decision on rehearing Movsesian can be found here.
The Court was correct to reverse itself in this case. Although the federal government clearly has a primary role in the area of foreign relations, it has not set forth a clear federal policy opposing the recognition of Armenian genocide. Absent such a policy, informal statements by certain presidents should not be allowed to preempt state action in an area of traditional state regulation such as insurance. If the federal government wishes to preempt state law in this area, it can always do so by adopting Congressional resolutions, enacting statutes, or creating an executive agreement or treaty that opposes the recognition of Armenian genocide.
January 3, 2011
AALS Section of International Law
The Association of American Law Schools meets this week in San Francisco. The AALS Section of International Law is holding a full day program on Thursday, featuring a 2010 international law year in review. If you're going to AALS, click here to download the schedule for Thursday's program.
DOWNLOAD THE REVISED VERSION HERE>>>>>Download Intlaw 2010 YIR - AALS Schedule and Speakers (Version 2.7)
Some Responses to the New Year's Eve Church Bombing in Egypt
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has strongly condemned the New Year's Eve bomb attack that killed 21 people and wounded 70 others at the al-Qiddissin Coptic Church in Alexandria, Egypt. He said he was appalled by the violence and expressed his support for efforts by the Egyptian authorities to bring those responsible to justice. He also issued a statement conveying "his sincere condolences to the families of the victims and to the Government and people of the Arab Republic of Egypt."
I have taught in Egypt and will be making another visit to Cairo later this month. Since the bombing, many of my "Facebook Friends" from Egypt (lawyers and law students) have changed their photos to the logo that you see at the right. It is part of a unity campaign for Egypt called "One Home . . . One Pain."