New York University School of Law has established a Center for Transnational Litigation, Arbitration, and Commercial Law to advance the study and practice of international business transactions and the way to solve related disputes either through litigation or arbitration As commercial transactions become increasingly international, it is vital to the legal and business communities to understand and analyze the practices and legal principles that govern relationships between firms and between firms and consumers in the international arena. Subjects such as the appropriate degree of harmonization of domestic laws, sovereign and private lending to developing nations, choice of law in commercial transactions, the proper scope of international arbitration and litigation, and the role of private groups in promulgating principles that have international application will inevitably increase in importance in the immediate future, and both attorneys and their clients who are involved in projects that transcend national boundaries must have an increased understanding and appreciation of the implications of these areas.

NYU School of Law is the natural forum to create a Center that can host these studies. As one of the most prestigious law schools in the United States and abroad, NYU School of Law enjoys an extremely strong reputation in international law. In the area of private international law, the NYU School of Law faculty includes leading scholars in international commercial law, conflict of laws, international arbitration, and international business law. Our Global Law Faculty has attracted to the School of Law scholars of private international law from Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. Our Master of Laws program attracts more than 400 students annually from every part of the globe. A large proportion of these students have interests in private international law generally, and in international commercial law in particular, as evidenced by their high enrollments in the courses that NYU School of Law offers in this field. The new LLM program with the National University of Singapore attracts additional students who cannot easily study in New York City, but who seek training in both United States and international law. The location in New York City provides access to leading academics, practitioners, and business personnel, and serves as an attraction to bring in faculty, students, and visitors from around the globe.

The objective of the Center is to generate both comprehension and rigorous analysis of legal and business principles affecting transactional litigation and commercial law by considering these topics through a variety of methodological lenses, most importantly the economic one. Towards that end, the Center will create the world’s primary environment for the study of these subjects. In addition to the large number of courses already taught at the law school in subjects such as international commercial arbitration, international investment arbitration, conflict of laws, international sales, law and development, and international business transactions, the Center expects to host a variety of conferences and seminars that will attract the leading scholars and practitioners in the area.

The Center will also host visitors from universities throughout the world whose work entails transnational litigation and commercial law. The objective is to provide avenues through which scholars from different traditions and methodological approaches can interact and exchange ideas in a manner that will provide better understanding of differences in legal systems and thus improve opportunities to critique and adapt national law to the needs of international transactions. As a result, we anticipate that visitors will provide lectures to students and faculty at the School of Law and participate in seminars in relevant subjects that are frequently offered at the School of Law, such as the Colloquium in Contract Law, International Commercial Arbitration, and Sales Law: Domestic and International.

One of the Center’s goal is to create a database of contracts used in international sales transactions. This database would be accessible not only to scholars but also to practitioners, thus allowing them to have models that will allow them to critically analyze their own contracts. This database would be searchable in a manner that would facilitate empirical research into the kinds of clauses that firms use when engaging in certain kinds of transactions. This project should greatly improve both the study of contract design, and ultimately the quality of contracting in international sales. For example, at the moment, there is a great deal of speculation about the kinds of clauses that parties to international transactions utilize concerning such issues as applicable law, risk of loss, and damages. A database of contracts that are actually in use will provide opportunities for researchers to address the empirical questions, critique clauses that are currently in use, and suggest improvements that could lead to more efficient contracting practices.

The Center’s ultimate ambition is to expand beyond these initial projects of conferences, funding research visitors, lectures, and database creation. The overriding concern, however, is to address only those projects to which it is believed the Center can make original and lasting contributions in a manner consistent with the high quality of other operations at NYU School of Law. In order to accomplish this, an advisory board of leading practitioners, businesspersons and academics will be created to advise the Center with respect to the needs of the international legal and business communities and to suggest specific programs that the Center could undertake.

The Center is governed by an Executive Director who has an international reputation and understanding of the relevant communities. The School of Law is remarkably fortunate in having Professor Franco Ferrari, formally of the University of Verona, one of the most well-known and respected scholars in private international law, to serve as the Executive Director. Professor Ferrari is joined by Professor Kevin Davis, Professor Clayton P. Gillette, and Professor Linda Silberman of NYU School of Law.