Symposium: Transatlantic Business Transactions-Choice of Law, Jurisdiction, and Judgments Foreword

By Stoffel, Walter; Zamora, Stephen | Houston Journal of International Law, Winter 2004 | Go to article overview

Symposium: Transatlantic Business Transactions-Choice of Law, Jurisdiction, and Judgments Foreword


Stoffel, Walter, Zamora, Stephen, Houston Journal of International Law


The articles in this symposium were presented at a conference jointly organized by the Association of American Law Schools (AALS) and by the European Law Faculties Association (ELFA) at the University of Barcelona, Spain on June 1-3, 2003. The Barcelona meeting was the first jointly sponsored program ever organized by the leading law school associations in Europe and the United States--a surprising statistic, given the breadth and volume of contacts between U.S. and European legal scholars. The subject of the conference the conflicts of legal systems that arise in transatlantic business transactions--was designed to engage European and U.S. scholars in a dialogue that would enrich our understanding of how complex issues of choice of law, judicial and legislative jurisdiction, and enforcement ofjudgments are handled by courts on either side of the Atlantic. (1)

It is fitting that the first program ever jointly sponsored by the AALS and ELFA should deal with conflicts of law issues. The United States and its European trading partners are responsible for a vast array of international economic relationships of both a public and private nature that are subject to an expanding web of overlapping--and at times conflicting--legal norms developed by rule-making bodies at the international, regional, national, state, and local levels. International lawyers have long confronted the uncertainties that accompany international transactions, but as globalization and the interdependency of national economies have increased, the field of overlapping legal norms has also expanded in ways that magnify these uncertainties. Heightened concerns over national security after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 have further engendered extraterritorial applications of security-based legislation, creating a new battleground of potentially conflicting legal norms in different countries that will continue to affect economic relations and business transactions.

The scholars who have contributed to this symposium are among the leading commentators on conflicts of law in Europe and the United States. The first article, presented as the keynote address at the conference by Professor Andreas Lowenfeld, introduces the major issues surrounding jurisdiction and choice of law that arise in transnational business transactions under an interconnected world economy. Professor Johan Erauw elaborates on the themes presented in this keynote paper, discussing rules developed within the European Union that help determine the applicable law in cross-border business transactions. Professor David Gerber examines the traditional legal theories that place limits on legislative and regulatory jurisdiction, and shows how these theories are being challenged in our era of globalization and economic interdependence. Mr. Layton and Ms. Parry discuss the same problem from a British perspective, focusing on British responses to the extraterritorial application of U.S. antitrust laws.

The final three articles in the symposium deal with conflicts that arise from the concurrent jurisdiction of courts in different countries to settle the same dispute. Professor Linda Silberman's article is a valuable overview of the bases of jurisdiction to adjudicate disputes over foreign defendants applied in the United States, and of the ways in which courts in the United States deal with problems of "parallel litigation" in different countries. Professor Willibald Posch also examines adjudicatory jurisdiction, providing a European perspective on the problems associated with concurrent jurisdiction over transnational business transactions, from assertion of jurisdiction to enforcement of foreign judgments. Finally, Professor Stephen Burbank looks at two important doctrines used by U.S. courts confronted with problems of concurrent jurisdiction: lis pendens and forum non conveniens.

The scholars who came to Barcelona asked the same question: Why do the U.

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