Aims and Objectives

The Aims and Objectives of the network are:

1. For members to be referred foreign commercial clients who wish to do business in their countries.

2. For members to keep existing commercial clients who need overseas referrals and who will go elsewhere if this resource is not provided.

3. To market member firms as having international commercial expertise and/or international connections.

4. For members to win new commercial clients who seek overseas referrals because the clients´ own lawyers do not have access to such international resources.

5. For members to be able to find out easily about local laws and trading practices abroad.

6. For members to exchange information about developments in areas of the law with cross-border interest ie trade, joint ventures, corporate acquisitions and investments.

7. For members to facilitate trainee exchange schemes.

8. For members to embrace the use of modern technology as a means of communication between members and the wider international business community and for member firms to demonstrate a strong web presence with their own website.

9. For members to meet the LAWorld Code of Practice established by the membership.

10. For members to be part of Regional Desks within LAWorld. There are regional desks in Europe/Middle East, North/Latin America and Asia Pacific. Regional meetings take place regularly and within the Annual Conference.  Reports of meetings are circulated to all members.  These events encourage stronger friendships and collaboration between firms.  

Eligibility for membership

11. Any firm of qualified lawyers anywhere in the world can apply for membership if it meets the membership criteria and there is a vacancy for that location/jurisdiction. LAWorld will accept membership of more than one firm from any one location/jurisdiction, where the LAWorld Committee believes that geographic or population factors would accommodate more than one member, or where existing members are or have become specialised, in which case complementary members may be invited to join.

12. Those who join this network commit themselves to take advantage of internet based technology and use it to improve communication with other members, actual or potential clients and other introductory sources.

Developing the network

The network will endeavour to create awareness amongst all members of other members´ areas of expertise. The nature of such programs will be determined by the members from time to time but include:

13. An Annual Conference, to which all members are expected to attend. This event is held every year in a different part of the world on a rotational basis ie Europe, Asia/Pacific, North and Latin Americas. The 2009 Conference was held in Miami, 2010 Moscow, 2011 Beijing, 2012 Rio de Janeiro, 2013 Zurich and 2014 will be held in Hong Kong.

14. Networking opportunities with other professionals around the world.

15. A web page on the internet within the LAWorld website (www.laworld.com) for each member firm - available for access by all members and prospective clients and linked to members´ own websites.

16. Inclusion within the LAWorld entry in Martindale-Hubbell International Law Directory.

17. LAWorld will support the host firm to organise a business meeting with local referrers and potential clients during Conference, to allow members to meet and mix with potential international referrers and future clients. Invitees may include Trade Organisations/Chamber of Commerce/Enterprise Agency representatives and members, Foreign Embassies representatives etc.  

18. Membership Bulletins can be produced by the Executive Office to provide member information to other members (including client activities and business opportunities). 

19. To coincide with IBA Conferences, LAWorld members can be assisted by the Executive Office to arrange meetings with regional trade associations, chambers of commerce etc whose members may be interested in doing business via the LAWorld member firm.

20. Unique amongst international legal networks, LAWorld members have access to legal and commercial opportunities throughout China, through our associate group of 28 Chinese law firms which cover the country (http://www.chinayln.com/). 

21. A client newsletter, with common international legal news, may be distributed from time to time so that members have a marketing tool to distribute to clients and contacts promoting their extensive international legal credentials.

22. A LAWorld Corporate brochure for clients and introducers will be produced centrally from time to time. 

Fees

23. Each member shall pay the annual membership fee of USD 2,500 

24. A once only joining fee of USD 500 will be paid to contribute towards the expenses associated with a new firm joining our network.

25. The network is an informal association, ie an International Economic Interest Grouping.

26. Members do not normally specialise in just one area of law but rather provide a full range of legal commercial services in order to broadly satisfy clients´ needs.

Management

 27. Members of the Committee are appointed at the annual conference to run the affairs of the network.  A Chair is elected for a term of 2 years. Within the Committee there is a Regional Director for Europe, North and Latin America and Asia/Pacific, all of whom are unpaid.  The Committee has appointed an Executive Director who is responsible for the day-to-day activities and promoting the network.

UPDATED OCTOBER 2013

LAWorld News

Selecting New York To Resolve International Disputes

International businesses that wish to eliminate the "home field" advantage in litigation or arbitration, take note: New York can serve as both the host forum and the source of law for international business disputes.  This is true even if the dispute has no connection to New York or even the United States.

Because so many judges, arbitrators and attorneys in New York have participated in complex business litigation, New York is considered a sophisticated and desired forum for the resolution of international business disputes.  Courts and arbitrators recognize the importance of facilitating international commerce and, in a city that has proclaimed itself as a melting pot for decades, they are not known for discriminating against foreigners.

Recognizing its status as a hub of international commerce, New York has codified the right of commercial parties in involved in contractual disputes of at least $250,000 to select New York as the governing law for future litigation regardless of whether the underlying transaction bears any relationship to New York.  This guarantee is codified in New York General Obligation Law ("GOL") § 5-1401.

New York law goes even further, and guarantees to serve as the host forum if the transaction or agreement also involves $1 million or more, and the parties agree to submit to the jurisdiction of New York courts. In such cases, New York courts will entertain lawsuits against a foreign corporation, non-resident, or foreign state, and the aggrieved party may bring suit in New York.  GOL § 5-1402.  This means that foreign parties, by contract, can agree to have a dispute adjudicated under New York law and litigated in New York even where the agreement otherwise does not relate to New York.  

An example of how these statutes play out is contained a 2013 case styled Credit Suisse v. URBI Desarollos Urbanos (decided in New York County’s Supreme Court).  Credit Suisse sued a Mexican company, alleging the Mexican company defaulted on a credit swap agreement.  Seeking to force Credit Suisse to bring suit in Mexico, URBI moved to dismiss on the basis that Credit Suisse was a foreign corporation not licensed to do business in New York. Credit Suisse admitted its New York registration was not current, but nonetheless opposed the motion to dismiss on the basis that the parties had a contract that satisfied with requirements of GOL § 5-1402. 

The Court maintained jurisdiction over the case, giving Credit Suisse sixty days to renew its registration to do business in New York, and allowing it to maintain the lawsuit in the interim. The Court wrote, “it is well established that the operative effect of GOL § 5–1402 is to preclude a New York Court from declining jurisdiction even where the only nexus is the contractual agreement.”

The ruling had two primary benefits for Credit Suisse. First, it prevented URBI from avoiding accountability, and second, it saved Credit Suisse from having to sue a Mexican business in Mexican court, where it likely feared an inhospitable forum.

In addition to New York courts, international businesses can also select New York as the locale for arbitration.   The International Centre For Dispute Resolution (ICDR) maintains offices in New York and is utilized to resolve cross-border commercial disputes.  Arbitration in New York is particularly advantageous as the majority of the world’s nations have ratified the New York Convention, which provides for enforcement of arbitral decisions.

Takeaway: While there are some exceptions, including contracts involving labor, personal, family or household services, the two New York General Obligation statutes ensure that parties to many international transactions can obtain a measure of predictability in contracting, enforcement and dispute resolution. Parties can also eliminate the worry of having to litigate in jurisdictions that are either outright hostile to foreigners or do not have a well-developed body of law to address a particular dispute. The goal of avoiding these uncertainties can be achieved simply by drafting well-crafted choice of law and choice of forum provisions referring the dispute to New York, as a source of law and either a judicial arbitral forum.  Such choices are not difficult to put into effect, but require a little advance planning by contracting parties to ensure that their agreements properly provide for these options. 

For more information or assistance, please contact Andy Lustigman, Olshan Frome Wolosky, New York law firm.  +1 212 451 2300 alustigman@olshanlaw.com   www.olshanlaw.com

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