Cross-Border Financial Disputes Focus of Conference at Columbia Law School

Media Contact:  Nancy Goldfarb, 212-854-1584     [email protected]

NEW YORK – Oct. 9, 2009 – The global economic crisis has triggered a cascade of financial fraud litigation, with a surprising number of cases affecting plaintiffs across different countries and legal jurisdictions.  Managing these cases, which involve important questions such as where they should be heard, will be the subject of the sixth Global Justice Forum from October 15-17 at Columbia Law School.  

The forum, titled “Global Litigation in a Post-Economic Crisis World,” is being sponsored by Robert L. Lieff , JD ’61, MBA ’62 and the law firm of Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein. The event will draw lawyers, judges, academics, and government officials from 30 countries to discuss cross-border financial fraud, antitrust litigation, and mass torts and class actions. Panelists will also discuss the role of mediation and arbitration in cross-border disputes.

Among the most pressing questions under discussion will be how to establish an equitable venue, said Robert Lieff, the forum’s organizer and Lieff Cabraser’s founding partner.   “The choice of the appropriate venue in cross-border disputes should bear a relationship to the underlying facts in the case.  However, in recent years, U.S. courts seem more focused on ‘calendar clearing,’” he said.  “This has resulted in several dismissals based on the doctrine of forum non conveniens.”

Panelists will also touch upon the awkward tests employed by U.S. federal courts in decisions about foreign-based subsidiaries. “Some would say that these developments have the effect of improperly outsourcing litigation that should take place here,” Lieff pointed out.

Other Columbia Law school participants include Merritt Fox, the Michael E. Patterson Professor of Law and Nasdaq Professor for Law and Economics of Capital Markets at Columbia Law School, who will moderate a panel on financial fraud litigation; Hans Smit, the Stanley H. Fuld Professor of Law, who will speak on the mass torts/class actions panel; and John C. Coffee, Adolf A. Berle Professor of Law, who will deliver the keynote address during a lunch at Columbia University’s Italian Academy.  

Participants on the “European Issues” panel, who hail from seven European countries and Turkey, will address class action suits to deal with multi-party litigation.  Unlike the United States, where the approach has been refined for the past 50 years, “Europe is looking at class actions as a means to deal with large numbers of potential claims relating a particular act of financial fraud, illegal competitive measures and the results of product defect claims,” said Lieff.

The forum will also offer a panel on mediation and arbitration featuring, among other speakers, George Bermann, the Jean Monnet Professor of EU Law, Walter Gellhorn Professor of Law, and the director of the European Legal Studies Center at Columbia Law School.   

“Mediation and arbitration are especially valuable tools with cross-border litigation and the global legal community is now developing ways to better utilize them,” said Lieff. 

The Global Justice Forum has taken place in London in 2005, Paris in 2006, Rome in 2007, New York in 2007 (co-sponsored by Columbia Law School), and Vienna earlier in 2009. More than 200 lawyers from 30 countries on six continents have attended.

For more information or to register for the conference, please visit


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