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KU Law professor plays key role in clarifying international arbitration law for lawyers, judges

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

LAWRENCE — A University of Kansas law professor has played a key role in recent efforts to clarify U.S. law governing international arbitration. Christopher Drahozal, the John M. Rounds Professor of Law at KU, served as an associate reporter for the Restatement of the U.S. Law of International Commercial and Investor-State Arbitration. The American Law Institute recently approved the restatement, which will help guide judges and lawyers in international arbitration cases. The ALI is the leading independent organization in the United States producing scholarly work to clarify, modernize and improve the law.

Parties to many international transactions include arbitration clauses in their contracts, agreeing to have any disputes settled by an independent third party outside of the court system. The restatement addresses the U.S. law governing enforcement of arbitration agreements as well as the enforcement of awards issued by arbitrators and court actions supporting arbitration proceedings. It builds on relevant international treaties, the Federal Arbitration Act and U.S. Supreme Court cases, restating general principles of U.S. international arbitration law and clarifying numerous unsettled issues.

Work on the project began in 2007. Drahozal, along with reporter George Bermann of Columbia Law School and associate reporters Jack Coe of Pepperdine University School of Law and Catherine Rogers of Penn State University and Queen Mary University of London prepared drafts addressing a wide range of topics on U.S. international arbitration law. Experts in the field and ALI members reviewed and commented on the drafts, which have now been approved by both the ALI Council and the ALI membership. With final approval, the restatement can be cited by lawyers and courts as the official position of the American Law Institute.

“Arbitration plays a very significant role in the resolution of international commercial disputes,” said ALI Director Richard Revesz. “Although governed by statute, the law in this field is largely judge-made and not well understood. Therefore, it is an area of law that will benefit from the clarification found in this restatement. I am enormously grateful to all the reporters, who have worked very hard on this project for more than a decade.”

Drahozal, who has a wealth of experience in helping improve international arbitration, said that the process of preparing a restatement was highly gratifying, knowing the work will help guide the work of U.S. judges and lawyers from around the world involved in cases with billions of dollars at stake.

“It’s been an amazing thing to be able to work on,” Drahozal said. “I’ve learned a great deal, and the interaction with my colleagues has been everything you could ever want. Ultimately we’re happy we can be helpful to judges and lawyers.”