As first reported by the Global Arbitration Review, a new center for international commercial arbitrations is opening in Atlanta, to rival those already present in Miami and New York in the United States, along with the AAA’s ICDR for international disputes, JAMS, and other arbitral institutions.
Atlanta is, in theory, a good choice for international arbitrations, since the 11th Circuit is arbitration-friendly. Unlike elsewhere in the United States, the 11th Circuit aligns itself with the jurisprudence of other nations to hold that “manifest disregard for the law” is not a ground for setting aside an arbitral award. While manifest disregard for the law might be seen as a reasonable criterion for overturning arbitral awards to some, it undermines one of the key advantages of international arbitration, since it allows arbitration awards to be subject to the review of national court systems, which undermines the neutrality (real or perceived) of arbitration and also lengthens the duration and cost of the dispute resolution process.
Atlanta is also an appealing seat for international arbitration for practical reasons. It is a major hub for international flights, hosts the headquarters of many large multinational corporations, and it is less expensive to stay in Atlanta than in New York over the course of arbitral hearings.
The Georgia Supreme Court amended the rules of Georgia’s trial court to create a new “Business Case Division” whose purpose is to provide “judicial attention and expertise to certain complex Business Cases,” including actions brought under the Georgia International Commercial Arbitration Code, O.C.G.A. § 9-9-20, which was enacted in 2012. This paved the way for the opening of the new international commercial arbitration center.
It remains to be seen whether Georgia will appoint Judges to administer international commercial arbitrations, as is the case in New York where Justice Charles Ramos handles matters concerning international arbitration, or whether it will be more inclusive in its selection of arbitrators. One would hope that Georgia will be more inclusive than New York, so that experts in particular industries where technical knowledge is required could also be selected.
Another international arbitration center has been created at the Georgia State University Law School recently, which will be formally opened on September 9, 2015.