Already a well-established center for commerce and finance involving Latin America, South Florida’s profile as an international arbitration center for commercial disputes involving Latin America has been on a spectacular uptrend. While the range and extent of advantages to conducting international arbitrations in South Florida involving companies from around the globe are vast, the following are a few of the most appealing.

A Strategic Geographic Location

An important factor in determining the location of any arbitration is the convenience of the location. A location that is inconvenient may affect the availability of counsel, arbitrators and witnesses. Because of its proximity to Latin America, South Florida is privileged to enjoy what is likely one of the most strategic geographic locations in the world for arbitrations involving Latin America. South Florida is within comfortable flying distance of all of Latin America, and its airport is the largest gateway between the United States and Latin America, providing daily flights to all major destinations in Latin America.

A Welcoming Environment

With some of the largest companies in Latin America regionally headquartered in South Florida, the local bar has significant experience handling some of the region’s most complex transactions and disputes. But parties looking to arbitrate in South Florida are not limited in their selection to South Florida attorneys when choosing counsel or neutrals. Florida offers one of the most welcoming environments for foreign lawyers in the United States.

Effective July 1, 2010, Florida became a model law jurisdiction by enacting the Florida International Commercial Arbitration Act to substantially adopt the UNCITRAL Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration. The Act does not restrict the choice of arbitrators to U.S. attorneys, but allows anyone, regardless of their nationality, to act as an arbitrator.

Florida has also adopted rules that allow attorneys from other states or countries to participate in international arbitration proceedings held in Florida without seeking court approval or other special permission. The obvious significance of this framework is that parties are not required to use Florida-based counsel, but may instead use their trusted counsel of choice from anywhere in the world to handle their disputes.

Stay Tuned for Part 2.