The dispute resolution clause in commercial contracts is very often inserted at the last minute without much attention given to the implications of the particular language contained in the clause. It is increasingly common to see "stepped" dispute resolution clauses, whereby the parties agree to mediate disputes arising under the contract and, if mediation fails to resolve the dispute, to arbitrate. The popularity of stepped clauses is due in part to the fact that they make a quick, inexpensive resolution possible through mediation, but provide arbitration as a fallback mechanism for dispute resolution. While wholly reasonable on their face, stepped dispute resolution clauses can have surprising consequences when a business relationship sours.
Over the last eight months, the School of International Arbitration at Queen Mary, University of London conducted a comprehensive and wide-ranging survey on issues germane to international arbitration - particularly on current and preferred practices in the field. The results of this study unsurprisingly point towards a great preference for autonomy and flexibility in international arbitration.
The Massachusetts Appeals Court has ruled that a party to a business contract could file suit in Massachusetts even though the contract specified that "jurisdiction shall vest in the State of Illinois." The Appeals Court held that the "jurisdiction shall vest" language is merely permissive and does not require that suit between the contracting parties be brought in Illinois. Boland v. George S. May International Company, No. 11-P-1300, slip op. (Mass.App.Ct. June 7, 2012).
The Dubai International Financial Centre (DFCI) is quietly emerging as a dispute resolution forum of choice in international contracts involving companies based in the Middle East. The DFCI's location in one of the fastest-growing areas of the Middle East makes it an attractive option for transnational companies doing business in the region.
The Commonwealth's policy regarding the recognition and enforcement of money judgments rendered by foreign courts has suffered from lack of clarity, as shown in the current version of the Uniform Foreign Money-Judgments Recognition Act, Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 235, sec. 23, (the "UFMJRA"). A corrective bill pending in the Massachusetts legislature, the Uniform Foreign-Country Money Judgments Recognition Act, if adopted, would promote both predictability and sound public policy with respect to the enforcement of foreign judgments in the Commonwealth. The new foreign judgments recognition legislation was promulgated in 2005 by the Uniform Law Commission and has been adopted by eighteen states.