Norton Rose Fulbright
For nearly 90 years, our Washington, DC office has handled many matters of national and international scale, and it remains a hub for handling global regulatory matters. Among the major practices here are civil and appellate litigation at all levels, including the US Supreme Court; commodities and derivatives counselling and enforcement; government and internal investigations; and healthcare. Our DC office also serves clients seeking legal advice on matters including corporate and M&A, lobbying, tax, insurance and reinsurance, environmental law and telecommunications, media and technology. We have a strong international trade practice, as well as significant experience in projects and project finance, advising clients in the US and globally on projects ranging from power plants, telecommunications and mining to water and all forms of transport. Many of our lawyers have previously worked for major federal agencies.
Arbitration & ADR
Data protection and cybersecurity are hot topics in international arbitration and international surveys demonstrate that users of arbitration are concerned about data security. While there are signs that the market is listening, users seem to think that institutions, counsel and tribunals could do more to address cybersecurity. As these issues become more common, it is hoped that consistent practices will emerge to reassure users that their data will be secure.
Investor-state dispute settlement is an important feature of investment treaties as it is the procedural mechanism through which investors can claim compensation for a violation of a substantive investor-protection standard. The traditional mechanism (ie, investment arbitration between the investor and the host state, modelled on commercial arbitration) has been increasingly criticised. Hostility to the traditional model has led to changes in individual treaties and wider reform initiatives.
M&A lawyers mitigate buyer risk through expansive due diligence exercises and tight contractual controls. Arbitration has become a prominent forum for resolving these disputes. For example, the London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA) has reported a significant increase in the number of shareholder, share purchase and joint venture agreements being referred to LCIA arbitration. This article examines the growth of arbitration as a forum for resolving such disputes.
The International Chamber of Commerce Commission recently published an update to its report on construction industry arbitration, focusing on recommended tools and techniques for effective management. The report is a helpful reminder for practitioners and arbitrators of the procedural mechanisms available which are particularly relevant to the conduct of arbitration in the construction sector.
In construction disputes, a significant amount of legal time (and therefore expense) is often spent simply locating and trying to understand the relevance of key documents because of poor document management practices throughout the project lifecycle. Establishing clear guidelines for document management and information collection is critical and will assist contractors and suppliers in making and evidencing claims in arbitration.
The expert phase is often the most critical, and sometimes costly, part of the arbitration process. Thus, choosing the right expert is crucial. This means ensuring not only that the expert has the appropriate qualifications, technical expertise and reputation in the relevant field, but also (if possible) suitable experience of the dispute process and of writing expert reports and giving evidence in adversarial proceedings. This article offers some practical tips for managing party-appointed experts in arbitrations.
The New York Appellate Division has reaffirmed that the manifest disregard doctrine is a "severely limited… doctrine of last resort" that requires more than a mere error of law to warrant vacating an arbitral award. This case involved the acquisition contracts between Daesang and NutraSweet, under which NutraSweet could rescind the deal if it was sued for antitrust law violations. After NutraSweet exercised this right, Daesang commenced an arbitration proceeding for breach of contract.
Dispute resolution for multi-contract projects: avoiding parallel proceedings and conflicting decisionsInternational | 23 May 2019
Construction contracts are often part of a wider suite of project contracts, involving multiple, overlapping parties. This intertwined suite of contracts means that when a dispute arises, it arises under multiple project contracts, which can be difficult to deal with. Choosing arbitration as the dispute resolution procedure for each project contract – and ensuring that the arbitration agreement in each project contract is consistent – will help parties to achieve consolidation of future disputes under different project contracts.
Unbeknown to many, Section 1782 of Title 28 of the US Code permits parties to obtain discovery in the United States in aid of non-US legal proceedings, including – in some instances – international arbitrations. Such discovery can include documents and sworn testimony (eg, depositions). In conducting an arbitration seated outside the United States (or other non-US legal proceedings), it is useful to understand the mechanics, requirements and key issues of Section 1782 discovery.
Gambia recently became the fifth nation to ratify the United Nations Convention on Transparency in Treaty-Based Investor-State Arbitration (Mauritius Convention). Eighteen other countries have signed the Mauritius Convention but have not yet ratified it. While no arbitrations subject to the convention have yet been initiated, if the current signatories were to ratify it, at least an additional 39 bilateral and multilateral treaties would become subject to the convention, unless expressly reserved.
It should be anticipated that new types of energy arbitration will emerge in 2018 and beyond, whereas others may decline. As always in the energy sector, an uncertain political landscape combined with cross-border investment in energy projects and fluctuating prices creates the model ecosystem for a whole spectrum of energy disputes to emerge globally, with arbitration remaining a key method of dispute resolution.
California Governor Jerry Brown recently signed into law Senate Bill (SB) 766, Representation by Foreign and Out-of-State Attorneys. The bill, which was passed 69-to-zero by the legislature, clarifies that foreign (ie, not licensed in the United States) and out-of-state (ie, licensed in a US jurisdiction, but not in California) attorneys can represent parties in international arbitrations in California, subject to certain conditions. SB 766 will take effect on 1 January 2019.
A disgruntled party on the losing end of an award will sometimes seek to have the award annulled or set aside at the seat of arbitration. However, even if such a challenge at the seat is successful, that is not necessarily the end of the matter. Awards that are seemingly 'dead and buried' can sometimes be resurrected or haunt the losing party in other jurisdictions where enforcement of the award is sought.
In recent years, many of the leading arbitral institutions have amended their rules in order to make arbitration more responsive to users' needs. A key development has been the introduction of emergency arbitrator procedures, which enable parties to obtain urgent relief before the substantive tribunal is formed. These new developments are attracting significant attention from parties and arbitrators – but have enforcement mechanisms kept pace?
Although institutional rules arguably empower arbitral tribunals to streamline procedure and summarily dispose of claims or defences as part of their general case management authority, the trend is for institutional rules to expressly recognise such powers. But do these procedural innovations aimed at cheaper and quicker arbitrations come at the price of a binding and enforceable award?
While there are cases that involve claims for declaratory relief or specific performance, disputes are most often about payment. A claimant goes into battle – spending time and money to develop strong arguments and clever case theories – only if it expects the proceedings to result in a payout. There are several strategic steps that in‑house counsel can take throughout the process to maximise their chances of securing payment.
There are two principal treaties which govern the enforcement of international arbitral awards in foreign jurisdictions: the New York Convention and the Washington Convention. The success of international arbitration (both commercial and investment treaty arbitration) can be attributed in large part to the global enforcement regimes created under these treaties. While the New York Convention is broader in scope, it contains more grounds for resisting enforcement than the Washington Convention.
In 2018 the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards 1958 (known as the New York Convention) will celebrate its 60th anniversary. The New York Convention governs two fundamental aspects of international arbitration – namely, how states will treat arbitration agreements and arbitral awards that were made in other jurisdictions. There are 157 contracting states to the convention, which creates an almost universal regime governing these two important issues.
Various innovative procedural features (eg, emergency arbitrators, expedited arbitration and summary procedures) have been introduced in recently adopted institutional arbitration rules in order to increase the efficiency of arbitral proceedings. It is not yet clear how extensively these provisions will be used, nor how resulting decisions and orders will be recognised and enforced. However, the idea of granting tribunals powers to dispose of certain issues by way of summary procedure should be welcomed.
One of arbitration's cornerstone principles is that parties can agree on how to resolve their disputes. However, parties commonly agree on asymmetric, rather than symmetric, rights. The classic case is where only one party has the right to refer disputes to arbitration, but the other must litigate. Parties wishing to include asymmetric arbitration clauses are advised to consider carefully the courts' approaches to such clauses in all relevant jurisdictions.
Smart contracts are a hot topic in almost every industry sector. There is a misconception that, because they perform automatically and their performance cannot be stopped, they remove the potential for disputes. At least for the moment, this is wishful thinking. Although smart contracts provide huge potential benefits in terms of reducing transaction costs and increasing security, disputes can and will arise.
As the number of electronic devices, applications and other technologies increases, there has been a corresponding growth in the volume of potentially disclosable data in a dispute. While parties' disclosure obligations are clearly defined in the context of litigation, international arbitration offers a more flexible approach to disclosure which will often be influenced by the legal jurisprudence of the tribunal.
There are known difficulties with litigating IP and technology disputes, particularly where the disputes are global and involve rights protected in different jurisdictions. A recent international survey of IT and telecoms suppliers found that although respondents identified arbitration as their preferred mechanism of dispute resolution, in practice the most common mechanism over the past five years was litigation.
The Third Circuit recently held that non-debtor subsidiaries cannot be liable for allegedly fraudulent transfers under the Delaware Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act. The case arose out of a mining company's efforts to enforce a $1.2 billion arbitral award that it had obtained against the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. This decision is likely to be relevant to other proceedings, including the multiple pending proceedings against Venezuela arising out of its economic nationalisation from 2007 to 2011.