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.
In most jurisdictions, when it comes to enforcing an arbitral award against a non-paying or recalcitrant state or a state-owned entity, the road can be long and full of obstacles. Enforcing parties should be mindful of the jurisdiction-specific nuances of enforcing awards in different countries, as well as the tactics commonly used by recalcitrant parties to obstruct or delay enforcement.
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.
The best way for a company to prepare for due diligence is through long-term measures: develop an IP strategy, implement it and maintain a record of the portfolio's status at all times. This should be done with the long-term goal of building value that will be identified and appreciated by a potential investor and reflected in a favourable due diligence report.
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.
The International Federation of Consulting Engineers (FIDIC) Contracts Committee recently unveiled the much-anticipated new suite of rainbow contracts, with the publication of amended Red, Yellow and Silver Books. The changes reflect only some of the key amendments introduced by the revised 2017 FIDIC contracts. Nevertheless, the changes are significant and it will undoubtedly take time for contracting parties to become familiar with the revised contracts.
In January 2018 the single African air transport market (SAATM) was formally launched. Its principal objective stems from the Yamoussoukro Decision, which provided for the full liberalisation of intra-African air transport services in terms of market access. The SAATM is a welcome development; however, to reap the full potential of the initiative, the African Union must do all that is necessary to ensure that the resources, infrastructure and capacity required to grow the aviation sector are available.
The Comite Maritime International (CMI) has been aware that there are challenges relating to the international recognition of judicial sales of ships. As such, the CMI approached the United Nations Committee on Trade Law in order to encourage it to embark on future work on cross-border issues relating to judicial sales. The committee, on its part, encouraged the CMI to hold a colloquium to provide additional information to the commission. This colloquium was recently held in Malta.
The African Union endorsed the Yamoussoukro Decision in 2000 and it became fully binding in 2002. Its rationale was the need to foster socio-economic development in Africa – policymakers recognised that aviation and a competitive aviation market could be decisive for unlocking Africa's economic potential. However, the agreement has not been fully implemented by its signatories.
Irrespective of how the construction of a vessel is financed, the shipyard and its financiers will require that the buyer pays a percentage of the contract price before delivery. This pre-payment may be lost to the buyer if proper security is not put in place. The provision of refund guarantees is the most common way in which this is achieved, but progressive title transfer may in some cases be an alternative method for securing the buyer's position.
The commercial practice of delivering cargo to a recipient against a charterers' letter of indemnity without the production of bills of lading has long been commonplace in the shipping industry. The split of the delivery process into two stages can cause issues for owners that rely on the standard letter of indemnity wording, which refers only to the delivery of cargo and not its discharge. Given this risk, it is sensible for shipowners to ensure that discharge is explicitly covered in any letters of indemnity issued in their favour.
The Baltic and International Maritime Council recently released Barecon 2017, which represents an important update of one of the most commonly used maritime contracts. While several new features have been included, the basic structure of the form remains the same. However, several of the simplifications, clarifications and other updates should make the form easier to use in conjunction with rider clauses crafted for a specific transaction.
Broadly speaking, the cost of a dispute includes parties' expenses in relation to attorney fees, procedural costs (court or arbitration fees) and additional expenses (eg, transport and food costs). In terms of these costs, on a superficial analysis, arbitration appears costlier than litigation, as the parties must pay arbitrators' fees, while judges are paid by the government of the countries where the dispute occurs. However, on a more careful analysis, it is evident that the inverse conclusion is true.
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.
In time, Big Data will lead to the automation of most human tasks. The change potential for all organisations (and for society at large) is enormous, and it is already happening in an arbitration context. Some will consider that human discretion will always be a necessary part of dispute resolution. However, if arbitration exists to serve the interests of businesspeople – and if technology can offer quicker, cheaper, data-driven solutions that reduce the margin for error – human arbitrators could become irrelevant.
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.
According to traditional antitrust theory, individuals (and firms) maximise utility according to stable preferences and rational expectations, while being well informed. This means that antitrust follows microeconomic bases that lead to the assumption that economic players are rational actors with willpower and self-interest. However, the emergence of behavioural economics shows that people do not necessarily behave in the ways that traditional economic principles would predict.