Did You Know Miami Has An International Commercial Arbitration Court?
Miami is one of just a few US jurisdictions with a designated state court that provides specially trained judges to hear and resolve disputes involving international commercial arbitration. Miami-Dade County established its International Commercial Arbitration (ICA) court on December 3, 2013 by administrative Order. New York established an international arbitration division in 2013 (New York County) and Atlanta in 2015 (Fulton County).
The ICA court is part of the complex business litigation division (created in 2006) of the circuit court in Miami-Dade County, Florida. The specially trained judges are meant to “foster greater judicial expertise and understanding of this area of the law” and “lead to more uniformity in legal decisions.”
The scope of matters that the ICA court can determine include those arising under the Florida International Commercial Arbitration Act or the Federal Arbitration Act as well as cases that meet “the definition of [a] related case as arising out of the same transaction or occurrence as those matters properly heard before the ICA Subsection.” The ICA court can also decide anything incidental or related to an international arbitration proceeding located in the jurisdiction including, for example, motions to compel or enjoin arbitration, matters involving interim measures or seeking assistance in obtaining documentary or testimonial evidence for properly situated matters, as well as issues addressing the appointment and challenge of arbitrators, to name a few.
Notably, the FICAA (Fla. Stat. Ch. 684 et seq.) is patterned substantially after the UNCITRAL Model Law.
Cases filed in the ICA court may be subject to removal by the defendant(s) to the federal district court because federal courts have original federal question jurisdiction over disputes involving US treaties (e.g. the New York Convention, the Panama Convention) or otherwise when diversity jurisdiction exists. However, by its establishment, the ICA court will have concurrent jurisdiction over some disputes and offers parties an option to resolve international disputes in the state court system before specially trained judges and to expeditiously determine qualified disputes.
The ICA court is the latest in a series of efforts over many years to enhance the attractiveness of Miami as a seat for international arbitration in conjunction with efforts undertaken at the state level. In addition to the passage and amendments of the FICAA, the Supreme Court of Florida enacted a rule in 2006 that allows qualified foreign counsel to represent parties in international arbitration proceedings seated in Florida. The specifics of Florida Bar Rule 1-3.11 may be found here.
Update: Due to the volume of cases, effective Jan. 2, 2017, a separate division of Miami’s Circuit Civil Division (11th Judicial Circuit Miami-Dade County) has been created which is designated the ICA. The ICA is no longer a sub-division of the Complex Business Division. The number of Judges assigned to hear qualifying cases has been increased to 4. The specific filing requirements are set forth in Administrative Order 13-1A.
Ava Borrasso is the Principal of Ava J Borrasso, P.A., a Miami-based law firm that concentrates on business and international arbitration and litigation.