In The News

From His Students: Book Pays Tribute to George A. Bermann ’75 LL.M.

More than 100 Columbia Law School alumni and colleagues contributed essays to ‘Pro-Arbitration’ Revisited.

Justice Stephen G. Breyer Visits Columbia Law School

On April 13, Columbia Law students attended an intimate fireside chat with Breyer and faculty members who had clerked for him: Kathryn Judge, Christina D. Ponsa-Kraus, Thomas P. Schmidt, and Timothy Wu. The following day, he joined Professor George A. Bermann for a keynote conversation that was the capstone of the Law School’s International Arbitration Association’s annual Columbia Arbitration Day event. 


Bermann celebrated at Columbia Arbitration Day

The latest Columbia Arbitration Day saw wide-ranging discussions of investor-state dispute settlement, the role of judges in the arbitral process, China's Belt and Road initiative and ESG issues affecting arbitration, as well as the presentation of a lifetime achievement award to Columbia Law School professor George Bermann by recently retired US Supreme Court justice Stephen Breyer

The 14th Columbia Arbitration Day took place in the historic Low Library at Columbia University on 14 April. An early highlight was a fireside chat on innovating investor-state dispute settlement between Anna Joubin-Bret, secretary of UNCITRAL, and Meg Kinnear, secretary general of ICSID, which was moderated by Kabir Duggal of Columbia Law School. The discussion highlighted the increased competition between ICSID and UNCITRAL, the challenges of the rule revision processes and the ongoing work of UNCITRAL Working Group III. 

Columbia Law School to Advise Ukraine on International Claims and Reparations

Through the new project, a team of scholars and experts will examine and propose legal frameworks for the management of international claims and reparations.

The president of Ukraine appointed Patrick W. Pearsall ’05 as an academic adviser on these issues. In addition to Pearsall, who will serve as the ICRP’s director, five senior fellows will guide the project: Columbia Law School Professors George A. Bermann, Lori F. Damrosch, and Matthew C. Waxman, as well as Professor Chiara Giorgetti from the University of Richmond School of Law and international law expert Jeremy K. Sharpe. Dozens of international scholars acting in their personal capacities will assist the ICRP.

Bermann calls on states to eliminate MFN clauses

Columbia Law School’s George Bermann used a keynote lecture in Prague to call for a critical reappraisal of most-favoured nation clauses in investment treaties, arguing they do not achieve their objectives and should be eliminated.

RICO Decision Could Hold Banks, Law Firms On The Hook

"A judgment trebling an award is something that courts outside the U.S. would not have occasion, or be willing to do. It represents a windfall to claimant, but not an unjust one," said George A. Bermann, the Walter Gellhorn professor of law and Jean Monnet professor of European Union law at Columbia Law School, who submitted an amicus brief in the case. "Award debtors now have to ensure that the modality of their removal of assets does not amount to racketeering within the meaning of RICO. Otherwise, treble damages is — rightly — the price they will pay."

But that doesn't mean that the high court's decision is a slam dunk for award creditors. One criticism is that while the ruling establishes a test for determining whether a plaintiff's pleaded injury was domestic, that test is very fact-specific.

Spain's Fate In Energy Investor Cases Now Up To DC Circuit

George A. Bermann, the Walter Gellhorn professor of law and Jean Monnet professor of European Union law at Columbia Law School, submitted an expert declaration for NextEra to the D.C. court. He told Law360 this week that he thinks Judge Leon's decision could well be overturned.

"I don't see why we have to bow and scrape to the EU and apply its law to determine whether these treaties are valid," he told Law360. "I know the argument is that it's an intra-EU treaty, and therefore EU law is most affected. I understand that argument, [but] I'm a little shocked that it's just assumed that EU law, rather than, say, international law, should govern."

Justices Pressed To Greenlight RICO To Enforce Arb. Award

Columbia law professor George Bermann is backing a Russian businessman's efforts to use U.S. racketeering law to enforce a $92 million arbitral award, telling the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday that the award debtor's conduct risks causing "very serious damage" to the international arbitration system.

Bermann, a noted expert on international arbitration who is the Walter Gellhorn professor of law and Jean Monnet professor of European Union law at Columbia Law School, urged the high court in an amicus brief to affirm a Ninth Circuit decision that revived a racketeering lawsuit initiated by Vitaly Ivanovich Smagin, a Russian businessman who accuses a Monaco bank of helping to hide the fortune of his former business partner, Ashot Yegiazaryan.

Justice Breyer Set Many Standards For Arbitration Community

"The arbitration community — particularly the international arbitration community — regards him as the international arbitration authority on the court," said George A. Bermann, Gellhorn professor of law and Monnet professor of European Union law at Columbia Law School. "He, more than any other justice, recently has committed resources to important decisions in the area of international arbitration, so he is important to us. He distinguishes himself to us on that ground."

2nd Circ. Won't Revisit Mongolia Mining Case

In an article published this month in the American Review of International Arbitration, Columbia Law School professor George A. Bermann wrote that the Second Circuit was "wholly unjustified in treating the parties' submission of the arbitrability question to the tribunal as clear and unmistakable evidence of a delegation."

Restatement Looks To Resolve Divisive Int'l Arbitration Issues

George Bermann of Columbia University and a cast of arbitration experts who worked on the project over the last 12 years outlined the Restatement's position on various hot topics in international arbitration at Sidley Austin LLP's Manhattan office.

Arbitration Scholars Say Foreign Discovery Law Is Broad

A group of arbitration scholars and practitioners is urging the U.S. Supreme Court to conclude that U.S. law allows federal courts to order discovery for private commercial arbitration abroad, saying Congress specifically meant to include such proceedings within the law's scope. The group, which included Columbia Law School professor George A. Bermann, who also directs its Center for International Commercial and Investment Arbitration, told the justices in an amicus brief filed on Wednesday that the Second Circuit wrongly made a distinction between private and treaty-based arbitration when it last decided the issue.


Intra-EU Arbitration Ruling Raises Question Of Response

Numerous lawsuits to enforce intra-EU awards initiated under the ECT, which had been stayed pending the European Court of Justice's decision, remain undecided. "We're waiting anxiously for what the U.S. courts will do," said Columbia Law School's George A. Bermann, Gellhorn professor of law and Monnet professor in European Union law. "It's going to be one of the most significant rulings that we're going to be seeing."

ICC asks SCOTUS to limit U.S. courts’ discretion over discovery in overseas arbitration

Columbia Law School professor George Bermann, who is the chief reporter of the American Law Institute’s treatise on the law of international arbitration, submitted an amicus brief siding with Servotronics. He argued, among other points, that Congress could have used language in the 1964 amendment to specify that Section 1782 permitted only foreign courts or judicial bodies to seeks discovery from U.S. judges. Lawmakers included no such restriction, Bermann said, and the Supreme Court’s interpretation of Section 1782 should stick to the statutory text.

Kazakhstan Gets OK Of $506M Award Nixed In Luxembourg

The legal experts noted in Beketayev's statement are Columbia Law School professor George A. Bermann and Queen Mary University of London School of Law professor Catherine Rogers, who authored a pair of expert opinions. In his opinion, Bermann concluded that the Statis' misconduct in the case "thoroughly compromised the legitimacy of the arbitration and resulting award, both as to liability and damages."


Domino's Asks Justices To Keep No-Poach Suits In Arbitration

Domino's disagrees, but in the workers' corner is arbitration scholar George Bermann, who filed an amicus on the same day that the pizza chain made its case for flying under the Supreme Court's radar. The Columbia Law School professor, who also heads up the school's Center for International Commercial & Investment Arbitration, believes that the justices need to step in and clear up the matter.

Justices May Take Up Question Of Who Decides Arbitrability

Among those who are urging the court to do just that is George Bermann, the director of the Center for International Commercial and Investment Arbitration at Columbia Law School. He noted in an amicus brief filed with the high court last month that nearly all institutional rules and modern arbitration law incorporate competence-competence provisions delegating arbitrability questions to an arbitrator, making them "for all practical purposes, 'boiler-plate.'"

Dental Co. Looks To Nix High Court Arbitration Question

George Bermann, the director of the Center for International Commercial and Investment Arbitration at Columbia Law School, said in an amicus brief submitted to the high court in early April that the incorporation of arbitral rules in an arbitration agreement does not constitute "clear and unmistakable" evidence that the parties agreed to give an arbitrator exclusive authority to determine whether the matter must be arbitrated or litigated.

Justices Asked To Clarify Gateway Arbitration Question

The U.S. Supreme Court should revisit a multimillion-dollar contract dispute between dental equipment company Henry Schein Inc. and competitor Archer & White Sales Inc. in order to take up a key gateway question of arbitration law that has sown confusion for contracting parties, a leading arbitration scholar at Columbia Law School said. The Supreme Court's earlier ruling in the case left unanswered an issue that has divided lower courts as well as outside groups like the American Law Institute, argued professor George A. Bermann in an amicus brief filed Thursday. Bermann is the director of Columbia's Center for International Commercial and Investment Arbitration.

Restatement: International Commercial and Investor-State Arbitration

The Restatement of the U.S. Law of International Commercial and Investor-State Arbitration is a landmark in the field of U.S. international arbitration law that displays all the characteristics of the exemplary Restatement. It was 12 years in the making, with the project commencing in 2007 and the final draft, which is over 1000 pages, receiving approval at the 2019 Annual Meeting of the American Law Institute. It was prepared by four highly-distinguished Reporters: Chief Reporter, Professor George A. Bermann of Columbia Law School