The spotlight on South Florida as a preeminent forum to resolve international commercial disputes continues to shine brightly.  For good reason.  Due largely to the efforts of the International Law Section of the Florida Bar and the Miami International Arbitration Society, Miami has emerged as a world-class destination for international commercial arbitration.  Last month, the New York Times lauded Florida’s rising prominence in international commercial arbitration, highlighting that Miami was chosen as the venue to determine $1.6 billion in disputes arising from the expansion of the Panama Canal.

South Florida’s position of prominence was not achieved overnight, however.

Over 10 years ago, visionaries convinced the two largest international arbitration institutions to select Miami as the host for an annual event focused on international commercial arbitration in Latin America.  Next month, the International Chamber of Commerce will hold this annual event in Miami, which brings together business leaders, attorneys, and other international arbitration professionals from around the world.  Hosting this event for over a decade has raised South Florida’s profile in the international arbitration community.

This past April, Miami hosted the largest and most prestigious international commercial arbitration convention in the world;  the “Olympics of international arbitration,” as observed by the Daily Business Review.  The last time the International Council for Commercial Arbitration (ICCA) chose an American city to host this event was 30 years ago in New York.  According to the Daily Business Review, the Miami event was the best-attended conference in the ICCA’s 56-year history.

In addition to providing a unique destination for international conference attendees, Florida has also created a hospitable environment to resolve international business disputes.

For example, last December, Miami-Dade County announced the establishment of an International Commercial Arbitration Court designed to exclusively handle international commercial arbitration matters.  The court hears controversies that fall under Florida’s International Commercial Arbitration Act, modeled after UNCITRAL’s Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration.  The court also considers international commercial matters that arise from the Federal Arbitration Act.  International commercial matters likely to come before this court include requests to appoint an arbitrator, motions to compel arbitration, determinations of interim matters including discovery matters, and actions seeking to recognize or enforce an arbitration award.  Specially trained judges will preside over these cases to promote uniformity in legal decisions and to establish a consistent body of case law.  This is the second court of its kind in the United States, with similar courts located in New York, Paris, Singapore, and London.

Other aspects contributing to the success of Miami as an international commercial arbitration center include the formation of the University of Miami’s International Arbitration Institute, Florida’s acceptance of foreign attorneys to participate in arbitration proceedings, and the International Centre for Dispute Resolution (ICDR)’s decision to administer cases from Miami – a distinction once held only by New York.

As reported by the New York Times, the number of international arbitration proceedings is growing rapidly.  Over the past 20 years, cases filed with the ICDR – the American Arbitration Association’s international affiliate – have increased five-fold.  For ICDR proceedings handled in the U.S., Miami is second to New York in venue popularity.  And this city’s star is rising rapidly.