International Commercial Arbitration in Miami: A Historical Study of Miami's Rise as the Preferred Arbitral Seat for Latin American Disputes - WAMR - 2020 Vol. 14, No. 1
Originally from World Arbitration and Mediation Review (WAMR)
This article describes the elements that have played a key role in the emergence of an international arbitration hub in Miami through an account of arbitration’s recent history in that city. As this article explains, the evolution of international commercial arbitration in Miami resulted from the involvement of key individuals, professional associations, and government officials, who exerted an important influence over arbitration legislation, jurisprudence, and institutions, which in turn led to Miami’s rise as an important international arbitration hub. By way of background, this article provides a general history of international commercial arbitration in the United States and in Miami. It explains the main events that led to the growth of international arbitration in Miami, and the contribution of different stakeholders to achieve this goal. In addition to documenting a series of important events and policy changes that led to the cementing of Miami’s position on the international arbitration map, this article shows, more generally, how the successful growth of a professional legal field depends on the concerted efforts of public and private stakeholders, and on other key factors.
Over the past decade Miami has established itself as an ideal arbitral seat and venue for the resolution of international disputes between Latin American parties. In addition to Miami’s cultural ties to multiple Latin American States, Florida has been at the forefront in enacting arbitration- friendly legislation. Notably, in 2005 Florida amended its legal practice rules to allow foreign attorneys not licensed in the state to represent clients in international arbitration hearings seated in Florida. Prior to the enactment of the 2005 Amendment, the Florida Bar regulations prohibited non-Florida lawyers from providing legal services in Florida. As a result, foreign lawyers representing clients in international commercial arbitration matters were operating under a gray area of the Florida Bar rules.
The 2005 Amendment furthered Florida’s pro-arbitration stance by carving out an exception that allowed foreign attorneys to represent clients in international arbitration disputes. Accordingly, the Amendment also signaled a shift in Florida’s position as an arbitration-friendly jurisdiction. Moreover, in 2010, Florida became one of six U.S. states to enact the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration (“UNCITRAL Model Law”). Based on the UNCITRAL Model Law, the Florida legislature enacted the Florida International Commercial Arbitration Act (“FICAA”) which addresses procedural issues arising out of international commercial arbitration disputes. Furthermore, in 2013, the Florida Eleventh Judicial Circuit in Miami-Dade County created the Miami International Arbitration Court (“MIAC”). MIAC is one of only three courts in the United States that specializes in international commercial arbitration matters.