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With Vigour and Zeal » 2011 » February

Archive for February, 2011

Transatlantic Litigation: “I sue first”

Saturday, February 26th, 2011

On Wednesday earlier this week, the New York State Bar Association’s International Section held a seminar in London on the topic of Transatlantic Litigation. I was one of the co-organisers and one of the two speakers.

Our aim for the event was to provide a forum for the debate of recent developments in transatlantic litigation, featuring two current topics of interest from English and American perspectives, namely shareholder derivative actions and freezing injunctions.

Due to overwhelming interest we relocated from our original venue to the Law Society of England & Wales’ Hall to host the barristers, solicitors and attorneys from various jurisdictions among others. Thanks again to all who were there for their attendance and lively, high calibre contributions to the discussions on the night.

My talk focused on derivative actions in an Anglo-American context:

“I am a litigator. When there is a problem, I sue first.” That, as I recall it, is the quote by one of the lawyers on a panel a few years ago. These two lines have stuck with me since. They remind me at times how, or perhaps why, though the American legal system may have originated from the English one, the practice of law in one is certainly different from the way of doing things in the other.

It is great to see that among us here today there are practitioners from both sides of the pond. I went to law school here in England after which I qualified as an attorney in New York State - and I am actually Dutch – so I may technically be an ‘American lawyer’, but I feel I belong to one side as much as the other and I believe I am sensitive to both.

I would like to acknowledge Jonathan [Armstrong, NYSBA International Section Vice Chair] for his suggestion I co-organise this event with my fellow speaker and Daniel [Saoul, fellow speaker] for his efforts in making it happen. I would like to thank the New York State Bar Association and the Young Lawyers and Trial Lawyers Sections for their assistance and the Law Society for having us on short notice. Our original venue held thirty attendees so it was a pleasant surprise we had well over seventy registered attendees and had to relocate, with apologies to those on the waiting list.

I will briefly discuss the US and UK derivative actions - or derivative claims as they are called in the UK - the difficulties in bringing and maintaining a derivative action in the United States on behalf of a UK corporation and very briefly touch on a number of such cases. In conclusion I will submit that looking back some details may have changed and that, looking ahead, what is still the same is more relevant.

In the US, a derivative action is an action brought by…

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