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Miami: an International Arbitration Court of its Own

Maria Catalina Carmona

16 December 2013
On December 3, 2013, the Eleventh Judicial Circuit of Miami-Dade County, Florida, issued Administrative Order No. 13-08 (the “Order”) creating the International Arbitration Court, a subsection within the Complex Business Litigation section of the Miami-Dade County Circuit Court  dedicated to hearing international arbitration cases.

The Order, signed by Chief Judge Bertila Soto, recognizes Miami’s importance as “one of the leading venues in the Americas within which to conduct international commercial arbitration proceedings.”  The Order considers international commercial arbitration to be a specialized area of law, so it determined that specially trained judges, who can understand the complexities of international commercial arbitration cases, were necessary within the Circuit Court, in part to establish a consistent body of case law.

The judges composing this new subsection will be judges experienced in handling complex commercial matters who will receive additional training in international commercial arbitration.  This training will be mandatory, and no judge will be able to serve in the International Commercial Arbitration Subsection without completing it.

In terms of procedure, attorneys filing international arbitration cases need to designate them as Complex Business Litigation cases on the Civil Cover Sheet.  Also, a separate notice needs to be filed with the complaint, indicating that the case arises under the Florida International Commercial Arbitration Act or the Federal Arbitration Act.  Cases entirely between United States citizens are excluded from the Order, unless they involve property located abroad, are to be performed or enforced outside the United States, or have some other reasonable relation with one or more foreign states.  Pending cases filed before the Order was issued can also be transferred to the new International Commercial Arbitration Subsection, provided that they meet the criteria established in the Order.

One of the key elements parties look for when choosing an arbitration venue is the sophistication of local courts, and their ability to deal with issues such as compelling arbitration and enforcement of awards, among others.  Although Miami already offers  users of arbitration state-of-the-art infrastructure as well as sophisticated and arbitration-friendly courts, the creation of the International Commercial Arbitration Subsection will turn Miami into only the second city in the United States with dedicated and specialized arbitration judges (the other being New York).  This development will further solidify Miami’s position as one of the most popular arbitral seats in the world.

Maria Catalina Carmona

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