Jennifer Bailey ()

Miami-Dade Circuit Court has created an international commercial arbitration court, becoming one of only a handful of court systems around the world to do so.

The new court, a subsection of the complex business division, will hear appeals of international arbitration orders. Miami-Dade Circuit Judges Jennifer Bailey, who is in charge of the civil division, and John Thornton, who presides in the division, will be assigned to the new court.

A group of arbitrators and former judges led by Coral Gables attorney Eduardo Palmer have been quietly working on the plan for several years but made a big push for the new court to be set up before the International Council for Commercial Arbitration’s annual conference to be held in Miami in April. Hundreds of arbitrators from around the world are expected to attend the prestigious conference, which has never taken place in Miami before.

Palmer, along with a group including the Miami International Arbitration Society, the international law section of The Florida Bar, former Miami-Dade Circuit Judges Joseph Farina and Scott Silverman, the University of Miami international master’s of law program and others, have long promoted Miami as a top international arbitration center, competing with New York, London and Chicago.

They felt a specialized international arbitration court would send messages that Miami is serious about arbitration and offers a recognized judicial forum for arbitration appeals.

“We were very focused on the need to have judges who were interested in this area of the law, who had an aptitude for these matters and training,” Palmer said. “It was decided the easiest way to do this is to work with the complex litigation division. All new cases will be funneled to those two new judges.”

Chief Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Bertila Soto signed the administrative order creating the new court Dec. 3.

“I applaud Chief Judge Soto for signing the AO,” Farina said. “I think it puts the Miami-Dade court system on the map. I think it’s great for the business community. They will realize that in addition to going to Paris or having to travel to New York, they can travel to Miami-Dade County and it’s just as convenient. It’s a win-win for the litigants and for our local court system.”

Thornton said it made sense to establish an international arbitration court in Miami since international arbitration has exploded.

“In recent years, resolving international disputes through international commercial arbitration has become the preferred method of resolution,” he said. “U.S. courts are being asked to resolve these matters with increasing frequency.”

Additionally, Bailey said, “With regard to our fulcrum position as a gateway to Latin America, it seems a natural place to resolve international commercial disputes throughout the hemisphere.”

Other arbitration courts have been established in New York, London and Paris. The Miami court is only the second such venue in the United States, Palmer noted. In November, a New York Supreme Court judge was assigned to hear all international arbitration cases.