Case of the Day: Servotronics v. Boeing

The case of the day is Servotronics, Inc. v. The Boeing Co. (4th Cir. 2020). Servotronics was a supplier to Rolls Royce, which manufactured engines for use on Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner airplane. Following a 2016 testing accident, Rolls Royce settled Boeing’s claim for damages and then sought indemnification from Servotronics. The parties arbitrated their dispute in the UK. Servotronics brought an application in South Carolina under 28 U.S.C. § 1782 seeking issuance of subpoenas to two Boeing employees. The case thus set up one of the big open questions in § 1782 practice: is a private foreign arbitral tribunal a “tribunal” for purposes of the statute? (more…)

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COVID-19 and Arbitration Hearings

Last week I held a prehearing conference with counsel in a small international arbitration being administered under AAA domestic rules by agreement of the parties. We set a date for the hearing. I proposed setting the hearing down as an audio-visual hearing, with an option to change it to an in-person hearing if conditions warrant. Counsel for both parties favored an in-person hearing, but of course they understood the concern. So what we ended up with was the following: “The hearing will be held in-person. However, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the parties have agreed that the arbitrator will have the discretion to direct that the hearing will be held by audio-visual means if in his judgment conditions warrant.” (more…)

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A Model To Follow: The SJC Order on Remote Administration of Oaths

Our Supreme Judicial Court has issued an order on the remote administration of oaths at depositions. By way of background, in most US litigation, the officer who administers the oath at a deposition is usually a notary public. At least in Massachusetts, a notary cannot administer an oath remotely: the deponent must take the oath in the notary’s presence. However, under the Massachusetts Rules of Civil Procedure, a commissioner (a person commissioned by the court to take the deposition) has the power to administer oaths by virtue of the commission. The same is true under FRCP 28(a)(1)(B). The new order provides that any person before whom the deposition is to be taken can administer the oath remotely, as long as he or she “can both see and hear the deponent via audio-video communication equipment or technology for purposes of positively identifying the deponent.” The order does not, as I read it, automatically appoint anyone as a commissioner, but it reminds litigants that they can stipulate that a deposition can be taken before any person, and that the person designated by the parties does have the power to administer oaths. So the effect, I think, is that the parties should now stipulate that the deposition be taken by the court reporter of their choice, and that that person will then have the power to administer oaths remotely. (more…)

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Conundrum of the Day: Palestinian Statehood

Update: I am closing the comments to this post. My commenters cannot seem to decide whether I am an anti-Israeli bigot or an anti-Palestinian bigot. Mission accomplished? Anyway, the comments section seems to be taking a turn that isn’t appropriate for this blog.

As you know, I am not a public international law expert. I do try to keep up with the news, though, and I have been particularly interested by the Prosecutor’s December 2019 request for a ruling on the territorial jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court in the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem, which amounts to a request for a ruling about whether Palestine is or is not a state. I have been following Professor Heller’s Twitter feed for updates, including for links to the amicus briefs submitted by several states and NGOs arguing that in fact Palestine is not a state, at least for these purposes, and of course briefs arguing that Palestine is a state. There is a lot one could say here about the apparent disconnect between the view of many scholars and the view of much of the world community, but I want to plumb the depths of the Letters Blogatory archive for a minute to arrive at what I think is an interesting point: (more…)

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Legal Ethics, International Judicial Assistance, and Coronavirus

Readers, I hope you each of you, wherever in the world you are, is staying safe and healthy and following the advice of your public health officials. We are all in this together, and we will get through it! Now if you know me, you know that I can find an international judicial assistance angle to almost any discussion. How about the coronavirus and COVID-19? You bet! (more…)

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Lago Agrio: Donziger Referee Recommends Reinstatement

The latest twist in the saga of Steven Donziger is a major win for the embattled lawyer for the Lago Agrio plaintiffs. A referee has recommended that he be reinstated to the practice of law. I had previously written that I didn’t want to write about the case anymore because I find it too depressing. Well, this new development is important enough that I am going to write about it, but writing about it and explaining my view requires me to explain just why I am depressed by the way the case turned out. (more…)

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