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HILJ Online Symposium: Greg Shill Responds to Christopher Whytock

by Greg Shill

[Greg Shill is a Visiting Assistant Professor at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law.]

This post is part of the HILJ Online Symposium: Volumes 54(2) & 55(1). Other posts in this series can be found in the related posts below.

I thank Professor Christopher Whytock for engaging with the ideas in my article, Ending Judgment Arbitrage: Jurisdictional Competition and the Enforcement of Foreign Money Judgments in the United States, 54 Harv. Int’l L.J. 459 (2013), and the Harvard International Law Journal and Opinio Juris for hosting this symposium. Whytock has published widely on transnational litigation and judgment enforcement. Ultimately, I think his response misreads or overstates the article’s claims in some places (and in others we may simply have a difference of opinion), but the sister-state dimension of transnational judgment enforcement has thus far not attracted much scholarly attention and I am delighted to see his thoughtful and serious commentary in this forum.

I. Judgment Arbitrage & Whytock’s Criticisms

Briefly, the article focuses on the enforcement of foreign-country judgments in the United States. By its nature, this process creates the potential for clashes between domestic and foreign legal systems. In a typical case, a local court, often in the U.S., is asked to order a local defendant to satisfy a judgment rendered by a foreign court, under foreign law. Thus, unsurprisingly, scholars to date have tended to focus on the conflict between foreign sources of law and systems of justice on the one hand and their American counterparts on the other—the international-level conflict. One mission of the article is to explore domestic—i.e., sister-state—conflicts that result from the judgment-enforcement process.

To collect on a foreign judgment in the U.S., a plaintiff must first domesticate it. This entails a two-stage process: the judgment must first be recognized and then enforced. Federalism and the Erie doctrine are key to this process: (1) recognition is governed by state law, specifically forum law, (2) recognition standards differ widely from state to state, and (3) states have an obligation to enforce one another’s judgments. Thus, I argue, plaintiffs can exploit sister state differences in recognition law by first obtaining recognition in a state that is receptive to foreign judgments and then enforcing in a state that might not have recognized the foreign judgment in the first place. My article gives this phenomenon the name “judgment arbitrage,” and closes by proposing a federal statute to address it. The upshot of the statute is to allow states to resist judgment arbitrage by declining to enforce judgments they would not have recognized in the first place. (more…)

http://opiniojuris.org/2014/04/02/hilj-online-symposium-greg-shill-responds-christopher-whytock/

HILJ Online Symposium: Is There Really Judgment Arbitrage?

by Christopher A. Whytock

[Christopher A. Whytock is a Professor of Law and Political Science, University of California, Irvine, School of Law.]

This post is part of the HILJ Online Symposium: Volumes 54(2) & 55(1). Other posts in this series can be found in the related posts below.

In Ending Judgment Arbitrage, Professor Shill claims that non-U.S. plaintiffs “routinely” practice a three-step strategy called “judgment arbitrage”: (1) selection of a foreign country to litigate the merits and obtain a favorable judgment; (2) selection of a “receptive” U.S. state to obtain judicial recognition of the foreign judgment; and (3) selection of a more “protective” U.S. state to obtain enforcement against defendant’s assets there (p. 470 & Figure 3). Shill argues that this practice is a problem, and uses law market theory to argue that new federal legislation is needed to solve it.

Shill has written a fascinating article. To the extent judgment arbitrage exists, I agree that it would pose problems for both litigant fairness and interstate competition. In addition, Shill’s extension of law market theory to the law of foreign judgments is a valuable contribution.

But Shill does little to show that judgment arbitrage actually exists, and he clearly fails to demonstrate that the practice is “routine” or otherwise significant enough to require a response from the United States Congress. In fact, the article does not identify a single real-world example of judgment arbitrage. Given that judgment arbitrage is highlighted in the article’s title, the focus of its law market analysis, and the raison d’être of its legislative proposal, this is a significant omission. (more…)

http://opiniojuris.org/2014/04/02/hilj-online-symposium-really-judgment-arbitrage/

HILJ Online Symposium: Monica Hakimi Responds to Tim Meyer

by Monica Hakimi

[Monica Hakimi is the Associate Dean for Academic Programming and a Professor of Law at the University of Michigan Law School.]

This post is part of the HILJ Online Symposium: Volumes 54(2) & 55(1). Other posts in this series can be found in the related posts below.

Thanks to Opinio Juris for hosting this symposium and to Tim for his very thoughtful comments. My article examines conduct that I call “unfriendly unilateralism”—where one state decides, outside any structured international process, to act unfriendly toward another. The economic measures that the United States and Europe are now taking against Russia in response to the Crimea situation are good examples. Likewise, before the U.N. Security Council authorized states to take a broad range of measures against Iran for its nuclear program, several states acted unilaterally.

Such conduct is, in my view, undervalued in the legal literature. Most international lawyers either dismiss unfriendly unilateralism as power politics that fall outside the law, or analyze it as a tool for enforcing the law—that is, for pressuring the target state to comply with existing law. In either event, the conduct is widely understood to be regretful or ineffective. To the extent that the conduct is inconsistent with the acting state’s own obligations, it also is unlawful—unless, of course, the acting state is enforcing the law after having been injured by the target’s breach.

My article’s descriptive claim is that unfriendly unilateralism can also play an important role in lawmaking. States variously use unfriendly unilateralism to: (1) preserve legal norms, (2) strengthen legal regimes by instigating stricter substantive standards or more rigorous oversight mechanisms, (3) reconcile competing objectives from different regimes, and (4) recalibrate regimes for changed circumstances. Of course, the idea that unilateral conduct can be juris-generative is not new; unilateral claims and counterclaims are a recognized part of the customary legal process. But when unilateralism is coupled with unfriendliness—that is, when the conduct is targeted at a specific state—international lawyers instinctively put on their enforcement lenses. They focus on how the conduct enforces existing law, not on how it helps make new law. For instance, several scholars have analyzed the unfriendly unilateralism against Iran as enforcement. Yet the acting states were using unfriendly unilateralism to support a broad and coordinated lawmaking effort. Their principal goal was to pressure Iran into accepting stricter substantive standards on nonproliferation and more rigorous oversight mechanisms. As the Iran example also demonstrates, unfriendly unilateralism is a fairly unique mode of lawmaking. Unlike in the ordinary customary process, a state that uses unfriendly unilateralism usually does not model the new norm. Rather, its unfriendly (and sometimes unlawful) conduct pressures the target into accepting or helping to develop an entirely different norm. This makes unfriendly unilateralism a potentially versatile and potent lawmaking tool. (more…)

http://opiniojuris.org/2014/04/01/hilj-online-symposium-monica-hakimi-responds-tim-meyer/

HILJ Online Symposium: Justifying Unfriendly Unilateralism

by Tim Meyer

[Tim Meyer is an Assistant Professor of Law at the University of Georgia School of Law.]

This post is part of the HILJ Online Symposium: Volumes 54(2) & 55(1). Other posts in this series can be found in the related posts below.

Monica Hakimi’s Unfriendly Unilateralism is a very welcome addition to the growing body of literature on international lawmaking. Hakimi’s basic claim is that states often act unilaterally in ways that prompt changes to international law. She defines unilateral action as that which takes place outside the confines of the collective decision-making processes commonly associated with international lawmaking (p. 111). These unilateral actions can also work to the detriment of some states (hence, “unfriendly”). In the enforcement context, Hakimi argues, international law has long recognized a role for unfriendly unilateralism. Rules on countermeasures tell us when one state’s imposition of penalties on another state is excused. Hakimi’s article insightfully describes how the doctrinal focus on enforcement obscures and distorts the role that unilateralism can play in lawmaking. Hakimi makes two key points. First, descriptively, she argues that despite the focus on unilateralism’s role in relation to enforcement issues, states nevertheless use (often noncompliant) unilateral action to prompt changes in the law. Second, Hakimi argues that unilateral action can be good for international law. By overcoming the status quo bias that exists in collective decision-making procedures, unilateralism can allow the law to adapt to changed circumstances.

Hakimi’s descriptive claim is very persuasive. In developing her argument, Hakimi does a wonderful job of exposing one of the central tensions in international law: that states are both international law’s subjects and its authors. International lawyers, scholars, and states must be mindful that states often have mixed motives when acting. Some noncompliant actions are simple cheating and can be addressed as such. States intend other noncompliant acts to be juris-generative, though. Treating these acts as run-of-the-mine noncompliance risks, among other things, underestimating how invested states are in using international law as a tool to enhance cooperation.

Indeed, not only do states take unilateral action to prompt the law’s revision; they also build into international agreements devices that encourage unilateral action. Exit clauses, regime shifting, and soft law are common tools in states’ treaty-making practice that encourage renegotiation by permitting states to unilaterally depart from the legal status quo. As Hakimi very effectively documents, states’ resort to unilateralism—both when designing international agreements and after such agreements exist—can help circumvent the formal difficulties inherent in amending legal rules in a system in which all states must consent to their own legal obligations. (more…)

http://opiniojuris.org/2014/04/01/hilj-online-symposium-justifying-unfriendly-unilateralism/

HILJ Online Symposium: Anthea Roberts Responds to Martins Paparinskis

by Anthea Roberts

[Anthea Roberts is an Associate Professor at the London School of Economics and Political Science and a Professor of Law at Columbia Law School.]

This post is part of the HILJ Online Symposium: Volumes 54(2) & 55(1). Other posts in this series can be found in the related posts below.

I want to thank Opinio Juris for hosting this symposium and Martins Paparinskis for taking the time to comment on this article. I highly respect Paparinskis’ work in the field, so I am grateful for his substantive engagement. I have two responses to his post.

1. Why is it important to develop hybrid theories?

As I have argued previously, investment treaty arbitration can be understood through many different paradigms, including traditional public international law, international commercial arbitration, public law, human rights law and trade law. A number of scholars, including Douglas and Paparinskis in two articles, have likewise sought to show that (1) the investment treaty system does not fit neatly into any one mold and (2) the application of different molds often leads to radically different solutions to concrete problems.

For instance, in Analogies and Other Regimes of International Law, Paparinskis recognizes that “investment law partly borrows and partly diverges from pre-existing regimes of international law” so that an interpreter is “required to determine the degree of similarity and difference so as to elaborate the ordinary meaning of both particular terms and broader structures.” Moreover, he continues, “the interpreter may plausibly rely on different approaches, with importantly different implications for the meaning and operation of particular elements of investment law.” (more…)

http://opiniojuris.org/2014/03/31/hilj-online-symposium-anthea-roberts-responds-martins-paparinskis/

HILJ Online Symposium: On the Love of Hybrids and Technicalities

by Martins Paparinskis

[Martins Paparinskis, DPhil (Oxon), is a Lecturer in Law at the University College London.]

This post is part of the HILJ Online Symposium: Volumes 54(2) & 55(1). Other posts in this series can be found in the related posts below.

I am grateful to the UCL LLM class of International Law of Foreign Investment for clarifying my thinking on some of these matters.

A natural reaction to such an elegant and erudite article is to offer unqualified praise to its author. While not easily, this reaction should be resisted, as likely to lead to an uninspiring symposium contribution. Therefore, while fully acknowledging the great merit of the argument, I will focus instead on three points where I find the article less than entirely persuasive: (1) the analytical perspective of hybrid theory; (2) the application of law of State responsibility in investment arbitration, as per Italy v Cuba; and (3) the operation of inter-State investment arbitration, as per Ecuador v US. (It is only fair to say that there are very few points on which I actually disagree with Anthea Roberts, therefore I will be mostly clutching at exaggerated straw-mannish arguments.)

I. Depoliticisation, fictions, hybrids, and banks of fog

I will start with a trite, but hopefully not an entirely irrelevant observation. Contemporary international lawyers, unlike the lawyers of previous generations, are in possession of a reasonably complete set of rules and vocabulary on sources and responsibility in international law, which should not easily be thought to be inadequate for articulating and addressing our concerns. The different concepts and perspectives that are sometimes introduced into the legal arguments instead may be helpful, but they can also be superfluous or misleading. In investment arbitration, one example of what I have in mind is ‘depoliticisation’: a concept that (at its best) means everything for everybody, with little independent analytical value, but at its worst may be significantly misleading, erroneously suggesting with significant persuasive force that certain positive rules have or have not been created, or certain legal solutions would or would not fit the existing regime (I have contributed my two pennies here, and it seems to me that Roberts would agree, see pp 11-6). Another example, also referred to in the article (pp 32-3, 38-9), is ‘fiction’ (as ‘the fiction of diplomatic protection’). It may be that I am missing something here, but (even after rereading the leading article on the issue by Annemarieke Vermeer-Künzli) it is not obvious to me that the dutiful citations to ancient writers and cases add much to the most basic of propositions: States can create primary obligations and secondary rules of admissibility with any content whatsoever, that is precisely what they have done with (respectively) rules addressing treatment of their nationals and diplomatic protection, and there is little more to it. (more…)

http://opiniojuris.org/2014/03/31/hilj-online-symposium-love-hybrids-technicalities/

HILJ Online Symposium: Volumes 54(2) & 55(1)

by Harvard International Law Journal

This post is part of the HILJ Online Symposium: Volumes 54(2) & 55(1). Other posts in this series can be found in the related posts below.

The HILJ Online Symposium is a week-long discussion by scholars and practitioners on selected print articles from the Harvard International Law Journal. The Symposium takes place on the Opinio Juris website once or twice a year and features responses by scholars and practitioners selected by the Journal and sur-responses by the original authors.

The schedule for HILJ Online Symposium: Volumes 54(2) & 55(1) is as follows*

If you are interested in writing a response in future HILJ Online Symposiums, please contact iljonline [at] mail [dot] law [dot] harvard [dot] edu. For more information about the Harvard International Law Journal, please visit http://www.harvardilj.org/.

*The PDF files for Volume 55 Issue 1 currently available on the HILJ website are not final versions and are still undergoing processing by the publisher. Most of the changes will be cosmetic and will not affect the substance of the articles.

http://opiniojuris.org/2014/03/31/hilj-online-symposium-volumes-542-551/

Weekly News Wrap: Monday, March 31, 2014

by Jessica Dorsey

Your weekly selection of international law and international relations headlines from around the world:

Africa

Asia

Americas

Middle East

Europe

UN/Other

  • As Julian has been covering, the International Court of Justice is about to rule on whether Japan has the right to hunt whales in the Antarctic (Australia v. Japan), in an emotive case activists say is make-or-break for the giant mammal’s future. For those of you around now (10:00 a.m. Hague time), the streaming video can be found here.
  • This year’s UN climate negotiations kicked off again last week in Bonn, Germany.
  • For those of you following armed groups or non-international armed conflict, the blog Armed Groups in International Law has posted its latest legal roundup.
http://opiniojuris.org/2014/03/31/weekly-news-wrap-monday-march-31-2014/
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Weekend Roundup: March 22-28, 2014

by An Hertogen

This week on Opinio Juris, Kevin accused the ICC of fiddling while Libya burns, and relayed news in the Libyan press that Al-Senussi’s and Gaddafi’s trial will start mid-April. He also analysed whether Luis Moreno-Ocampo’s possible representation of LRA victims at the ICC would amount to a conflict of interest.

Roger followed up on his earlier post about using trade remedies to enforce arbitration awards to argue that these remedies are WTO compliant.

Kristen discussed sanctions against Russia and Julian asked whether the US’ spying on Huawei violates international law.

Finally, Jessica wrapped up the news, I listed the events and announcements, and Chris closed of the week with some laughs courtesy of the Internationally Wrongful Memes tumblr.

Have a nice weekend!

http://opiniojuris.org/2014/03/29/weekend-roundup-march-22-28-2014/
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Weekly News Wrap: Monday, March 24, 2014

by Jessica Dorsey

Your weekly selection of international law and international relations headlines from around the world:

Africa

Asia

Americas

Middle East

Europe

UN

http://opiniojuris.org/2014/03/24/weekly-news-wrap-monday-march-24-2014/
This entry was posted in Weekday News Wrap and tagged .

Weekend Roundup: March 15-21, 2014

by An Hertogen

This week on Opinio Juris, we continued last week‘s YLS Sale Symposium with a post by Thomas Gammeltoft-Hansen describing Sale’s legacy as a game of cat and mouse between law and politics, a post by David Martin on the realms of policy and law in refugee protection. In a two part post (1, 2), Guy Goodwin-Gill looked at state practice preceding Sale and argued that the case was not the watershed moment it is seen to be. T. Alexander Aleinikoff discussed a way forward to ensure that the rights of refugees are adequately protected. Harold Koh closed off the symposium with his reflections on Sale’s legacy.

Also continuing from last week was our Ukraine Insta-Symposium. Boris Mamlyuk argued for a better empirical understanding of the facts on the ground to assess the legality of intervention in Ukraine. As the events in Crimea unfolded, questions of recognition and annexation came into the spotlight with a post by Anna Dolidze on the non-recognition of Crimea, one by Chris analyzing the legality of recognition of a secessionist entity, and one by Greg Fox on the Russian-Crimea treaty.

In other posts, Duncan tried to read the tea leaves in the US Senate confirmation hearings for the new head of US Cyber Command. Julian reported from a hearing of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board on the legality of overseas electronic surveillance and predicted that international law will receive short shrift in the Board’s final report. Andrés Guzmán Escobari rebutted an earlier post by Julian and argued that Bolivia’s ICJ case against Chile to obtain access to the Pacific Ocean is reasonably strong. Roger closed off the week with a post on the use of trade remedies to enforce arbitration awards.

Finally, Jessica wrapped up the news and listed events and announcements.

Many thanks to our guest contributors and have a great weekend!

http://opiniojuris.org/2014/03/22/weekend-roundup-march-15-21-2014/
This entry was posted in Weekend Roundup and tagged .

Guest Post: The Russia-Crimea Treaty

by Greg Fox

[Gregory H. Fox is a Professor of Law and Director of the Program for International Legal Studies at Wayne State University Law School.  I would like to thank my colleague Brad Roth for helpful comments on a draft of this post.]

The latest development in Crimea’s headlong rush out of Ukraine is an agreement, signed on Sunday, March 16, between the Russian Federation and the Crimea. While I have not found a full translation of the agreement from Russian, the full text is available on the Kremlin website (as is President Putin’s extended response to western international legal arguments, which is well worth reading in full).

In rough translation, Article 1 of the treaty provides that the “Republic of Crimea is considered to be adopted in the Russian Federation from the date of signing of this Agreement.”  The incorporation is “based on the free and voluntary will of the peoples of the Crimea.”  Article 2 announces the formation of two new entities, the Republic of Crimea and the “federal city of Sevastopol.”  Article 5 provides that residents of Crimea will become Russian citizens, unless within one month they choose another nationality. Article 6 describes a seven month transition period during which the economic, financial, credit and legal systems in Crimea will be integrated into those of the Russian Federation.”

The agreement has been accurately described as completing the annexation of Crimea.  Territory that thirteen of fifteen Security Council members believe is still part of Ukraine has been transferred to Russian control.  Let me make three quick observations about this agreement.
(more…)

http://opiniojuris.org/2014/03/20/guest-post-russia-crimea-treaty/
This entry was posted in Academic Symposia, Europe, Featured Posts and tagged .