By Kendall Coffey
International arbitration is a process for resolving business disputes involving foreign companies and it has a fascinating potential for South Florida and its Russian American community. Similar in some ways to litigation in a court room, arbitration cases are disputes decided by privately appointed arbitrators not judges, and use streamlined procedures to reduce the time and cost of presenting evidence and legal arguments. The results are either settlements or final, binding and faster decisions about business disputes that could range from how much money is owed to issues of shareholders, partners and ownership rights.
Miami has become a leading venue for international arbitration from Latin America which brings numerous successful business people and professionals to South Florida to participate in proceedings that can last days or even weeks. Florida has passed laws to strongly encourage international arbitration including a procedure that allows foreign lawyers who otherwise cannot practice law in Florida to represent clients here in international arbitrations. Miami’s state courts even have an international arbitration court to review the international arbitration process, one of only two such courts in the U.S.
Significantly, like many countries, Russia has passed laws supporting arbitration. Businesses seeking to avoid the risk, uncertainty and potentially enormous expense of litigation, can put provisions in their contracts to require arbitration. And for Russia, Ukraine and other companies from Eastern Europe, there could be no better place to select for arbitration than South Florida. Not only has Florida provided a strong legal structure for international arbitration (and has spectacular weather), the community has great hotels, restaurants and retail businesses as well as real estate and investment opportunities for participants who come here.
Kendall Coffey is a founding member of Coffey Burlington, PL, based in Miami, Appointed by both of Florida’s U.S. Senators, Mr. Coffey also currently serves as the Chair of the Federal Judicial Nominating Commission that selects those individuals to be considered by the White House to become U.S. federal judges in South Florida. During the 1990s, he served as the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, one of the nation’s largest federal prosecution offices.
Mr. Coffey has written several books as well as three dozen articles on legal topics in publications ranging from the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times, to the Yale Law and Policy Review. Mr. Coffey serves as a part-time professor in several of Florida’s top law schools and is currently a legal analyst for a leading U.S. television network NBC as well as MSNBC. He is a member of the Russian American Chamber of South Florida.