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International Law Question

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Miga, a French company, sold hundreds of millions of dollars worth of goods, much of it on credit, to various agencies of the Russian government. The first deals were made with the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), then, after the collapse of that government in 1991, with the Federative Socialist Soviet Republic of Russia (RSFSR), the successor government. The agreements called for binding arbitration of any disputes at the Chamber of Commerce of Stockholm, Sweden, under Swiss law, and subject to enforcement in court in New York. Following failure to make payments, the arbitrator awarded Miga $275 million, which Russia refused to pay. Miga brought suit in federal court in New York to enforce the arbitration award.

You be the judge. Who wins? Why? Make sure you address all the issues.

Thank you.

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Solution Preview

The main point in this scenario is that the agreements called for binding arbitration of any disputes at the Chamber of Commerce, which was subject to enforcement in a NY court. The arbitrator awarded the company $275 million, but Russia never paid. The company sued Russia, to enforce the binding arbitration. Because both parties agreed specifically to binding arbitration, the decision, including the award, from the arbitrator is binding. Russia can't refuse to pay the award. If Russia still doesn't want to pay, they'd have to prove that the arbitration shouldn't be binding because it was ...

Solution Summary

This solution discusses the Miga scenario. Legal principles are applied to determine the winning party. All relevant issues are addressed.

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The International Court of Justice (The World Court)

The International Court of Justice (The World Court), located at the Peace Palace in The Hague (Netherlands), was established in conjunction with the United Nations in 1946. The World Court has two primary functions: (1) settle in accordance with international law the legal disputes brought to it by individual countries and (2) give advisory opinions on legal questions referred to it by authorized international organs and agencies.

Fifteen judges, elected to nine-year terms by the UN General Assembly and the UN Security Council, sit on the World Court. Instead of the title of Chief Justice, like the United States Supreme Court and the state supreme courts, the head of the World Court carries the title of President. Every effort is made for the "composition of the Court... to reflect the main forms of civilization and the principal legal systems of the world." Decisions of the Court are based on "international treaties and conventions in force, international custom, the general principles of law and, as subsidiary means, judicial decisions and the teachings of the most highly qualified publicists."

The World Court hears civil law cases brought to it by countries that are members of the United Nations. Neither you or I nor businesses appear before the Court; it is designed to settle disputes between nations. The entire International Court of Justice system is voluntary, however.

The following describes how the jurisdiction is defined:

The countries involved in the disputes must agree to submit their dispute to the Court.

Through the reciprocal effect of declarations made by a country under a Statute whereby each has accepted the jurisdiction of the Court as compulsory in the event of a dispute with another country having had a similar declaration

By virtue of a jurisdictional clause contained in a document such as a treaty, whereby the countries have accepted the jurisdiction, in the event of a disagreement over the treaty's interpretation or application

Beginning in 1999, the number of cases coming before the Court has risen dramatically. During the 1970s, the Court had only one or two cases on its docket at any one time. Between 1990 and 1997 they averaged eleven cases. As of their most recent report, dated July 31, 2000, to the United Nations, twenty-three cases were pending before the Court. Their subject-matter is varied, ranging from territorial disputes between neighboring countries to a decision as to which country has sovereignty over a particular area or a country complaining of treatment suffered by one or more of its citizens by a second country. Currently, the World Court has a yearly budget of $10 million dollars.

Once the Court makes a decision compliance is also voluntary. Since its inception in 1946, more than one country has chosen to ignore the Court's decision because the finding was not in their favor.

QUESTIONS:

Use the Cybrary or other online resources to help answer the following questions:

1. Is the International Court of Justice the first world court?

2. What are the procedures of the World Court? Are they similar to any US court?

3. What is an advisory opinion?

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