NatLaw Legislative Accomplishments

This week has been momentous for NatLaw’s legislative work! 

First, Mexico has just adopted a law that had its origins in a draft by the Colombian, Mexican and NatLaw delegations’ to UNCITRAL. It was subsequently re-written by Mexico to suit the needs of its micro and small companies. Its consideration at the OAS first and UN subsequently was typical of the Harold Burman years as Executive Secretary of the Private International Law section of the U.S. State Department. During the semester that Professor Francisco Reyes was a visiting scholar at the Center and College of Law, he made me aware of the enormous success of Colombia’s Ley de Sociedades Anonimas Simplificadas (SAS) in Colombia and other Latin American and African nations. We then suggested to Harold a deliverable recommending the U.S. Department of State’s sponsorship of an OAS Model Law based on the SAS. Harold agreed and thanks to his successor Mike Dennis we succeeded in getting the Colombian draft before the OAS General Assembly. Surprisingly, they decided to withdraw it for fear of offending Chavez’ Venezuela (Venezuela was then Colombia’s major customer and Chavez was unhappy with Colombia’s seeming partnership with the U.S. at the OAS). We then suggested UNCITRAL as a better forum and Mike Dennis again championed its consideration jointly with Colombia and Natlaw. Although UNCITRAL is still debating the final text, Mexico, under the leadership of Elsa Ayala of the Ministry of the Economy, decided to have the law re-written and asked Mexico’s Congress to consider its adoption. Last week the law was enacted. It promises to be a considerable contribution to regularizing the status of micro and small companies and to enhancing their credit-worthiness.  

The second noteworthy accomplishment relates to NatLaw’s first major contribution to the modernization and harmonization of international commercial law at UNCITRAL, the UN Convention on Independent Guarantees and Stand-By Letters of Credit. As apparent from President Obama transmittal letter to the United States Congress, this Convention can do much to facilitate the payment and financing of commercial transactions and investment projects around the world. The U.S. delegation to UNCITRAL was comprised of: its leader Professor James Byrne of George Mason University; James E. Barnes, a leading commercial law litigator for Baker and McKenzie’s principal office in Chicago; and me as a University of Arizona Professor of Law and as the President of the recently created NatLaw. I should add that even before this Convention was adopted by eight countries and hopefully now by the United States, it had become the living law of standby letters of credit and independent bank guarantees in many countries, including, surprisingly Cuba.