Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP
  September 20, 2011 - New York

New York Law As An International Standard For Business

As an international commercial and financial capital, New York law has traditionally been selected to govern commercial contracts and has served as a venue of choice for the resolution of cross-border disputes. The historic prominence of the state’s judiciary and bar, along with its well-developed, fair and predictable body of law have drawn parties from around the world to select New York law to govern their agreements and to choose New York as the venue for resolving their disputes.

Today’s era of global commerce has spurred the importance of international law as a key aspect of economic development. Consider that in 2008, dollar receipts from the export of legal services by US law firms was over $7.25bn (according to an ABA study). At the epicentre of the legal services industry, New Yorkers benefit from hundreds of millions of dollars generated in direct, indirect and tax revenues from legal matters each year.

Consider also that lawyers are typically among the first to be contacted when an international company is deciding where to site a business, where to site a transaction or where to form a corporate entity. The lawyer’s role as part of the engine of economic development is thus often underappreciated.

In today’s economic climate, it is imperative that New York maintain its reputation as a standard for choice of law and as a stage for international dispute resolution. This need is especially critical in light of recent competition from other legal systems and from international seats of arbitration. Australia, India and Ireland recently established specialised international arbitration courts. France, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Sweden and China – all jurisdictions well-known for international arbitration – have designated specialised courts or judges to hear cases to challenge or enforce arbitration awards. Several commercial centres such as Hong Kong and Singapore have state-of-the-art international arbitration centres.

Economic experts estimate that if the business of dispute resolution in New York were to increase by only 10 to 20 percent, it could produce approximately $200m to $400m in incremental revenues annually, and would no doubt promote New York commerce.

The New York State Bar Association’s Task Force on New York Law in International Matters was formed last year to synthesise the advantages of New York Law as an international standard and the use of New York as a neutral forum for resolving international disputes. Comprised of experts in the fields of commercial law, litigation, arbitration and mediation, the Task Force recently published a report of its findings.

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