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Businesses, Governments Should Respect International Arbitration, MU Law Professor says

Recent article on arbitration receives national award

Jan. 14, 2010

Story Contact(s):
Christian Basi, BasiC@missouri.edu, 573-882-4430

S.I. Strong, associate professor of law at MU, argues that corporations and governments should accept the legitimacy of international awards granted from class action arbitration.

S.I. Strong, associate professor of law at MU, argues that corporations and governments should accept the legitimacy of international awards granted from class action arbitration.

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Globalization has opened new opportunities in today’s world, but it also has raised a number of legal questions, including how to handle class action arbitrations. In a recent article, S.I. Strong, associate professor of law at the University of Missouri, argues that corporations and governments should accept the legitimacy of international awards granted from class action arbitration, a relatively new alternative for international legal disputes.

Class action arbitration refers to using a private form of dispute resolution to settle a class action, or a lawsuit filed by a large number of plaintiffs. While the legitimacy of class action arbitration has been debated on a domestic level among scholars for years, Strong is the first to address international class action arbitration. In her article, Strong examined whether or not awards from international class action arbitration can be enforced in countries outside the U.S., especially in those that criticize class actions in U.S. courts.

“Internationally, the awards are enforceable,” said Strong, who also is a senior fellow of the Center for the Study of Dispute Resolution at MU. “The procedure itself does comply with procedural due process, even though foreign states dislike the class action mechanism. However, they should give class awards the same respect that are given to bilateral awards (involving only two parties) under the New York Convention.”

Yesterday, Strong’s article on class arbitration received national recognition from the International Institute for Conflict Prevention and Resolution (CPR Institute) by winning the 2009 award for Best Professional Article.  The award program recognizes achievements in dispute resolution. The judges for the awards include judges and lawyers from top firms, corporations and academic institutions across the U.S.  Strong’s article also was presented to the U.S. Supreme Court last month in Stolt-Nielsen SA v. AnimalFeeds Int’l Corp, involving an international class arbitration . 

This is Strong’s second piece on international class arbitration, though she has published widely in other areas of international commercial arbitration, including a book, “Research and Practice in International and Commercial Arbitration: Sources and Strategies,” which was published in 2009 by Oxford University Press.  Strong will write a book on class arbitration that will be published by Oxford University Press in 2012.

“Class arbitration is here to stay,” Strong said. “We need to anticipate how it’s going to develop so we can minimize the cost. Anytime you have a new process, it’s really expensive and time consuming for the first few cases. I’m trying to give people some idea about where it’s going and make sure that it develops in a way that is consistent with the rest of international commercial arbitration.”

The article, “The Sounds of Silence: Are U.S Arbitrators Creating Internationally Enforceable Awards When Ordering Class Arbitration in Cases of Contractual Silence or Ambiguity?” was published in Michigan Journal of International Law.

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