VERY IMPORANT MESSAGE from the Chair, Edward M. Mullins
A few weeks back I mentioned a piece of legislation moving though the Florida House (HB 1273) and Senate (SB 1294) that threatened to radically change international law in this state. In a nutshell that Bill seeks to ban the use of foreign law in Florida’s courts and in arbitration. It purports to prohibit the enforcement of arbitration clauses, forum non conveniens, choice of forum and choice of law which would require the application of foreign laws that do not mirror the fundamental rights of the U.S.
Unfortunately, on Monday the Florida Senate version of the bill passed in the Florida Judiciary Committee on a 5-2 vote.
Your Leadership and your Legislation Chair, Eduardo “Eddie” Palmer, have put together a great team which wrote the Section’s position paper (click here to view the attached PDF) explaining why this Bill should not become law and received emergency approval this morning from the Florida Bar to lobby our state legislators to oppose the Bill. Special thanks to Members Carlos Osorio, Henk Milne, and Sean Santini for their assistance in making this happen.
With the legislative session ending at the end of this month (yes, you read that right, it ends in three weeks), there is much that needs to be done in a very short time to ensure that Florida remains a viable forum for international business. If this bill passes either chamber, even if it eventually does not become law, our state’s reputation of being open to international issues could be irrevocably harmed. This bill has failed in many states, it cannot pass here.
We are convinced that supporters do not understand all the issues here:
·Passage will be devastating to business, including international business by creating unnecessary litigation and uncertainty with business dealings.
·Passage will burden the beleaguered court system, which is at a critical funding level.
·The statute is much broader than necessary to meet the supporters’ goals and it does not accomplish them in any event.
oSharia law is the issue under debate, but it is not an issue here, never has been, and this bill would not address it anyway.
·The current system is not broken — questionable foreign judgments are not being enforced and those rulings are affirmed, including this month.
Bottom line: The state is in a crisis level on budgeting issues, including lack of funding for the courts and a lowered tax basis due to the Great Recession. Now is not the time to do anything that will put a larger burden on the courts and that will dissuade business and jobs.
As for our Section, the bill goes against our core principles of what we are trying to promote as a Section and the interests of all our clients.
I cannot raise the Def-con level any higher. This is the biggest threat to our livelihoods and our clients’ interests since MJP. We won there. We will win here.
If this passes, do you want to ask yourself what did you do to prevent it? What did your firm do?
We got a great team, but it is small and all have burdens. But there is strength in numbers.
If you are doing things already, tell Eddie so we can make sure we do not step over ourselves. The message needs to be consistent- this bill goes down, no compromise.
The support of each Section Member is critical to defeating this Bill. To that end, the Executive Committee is calling on Section Members to contact Florida Legislators in select committees that may soon be considering this Bill.
Below is a list of the Senate and House Members who are members of the Committees that are most likely to be hearing the Bill soon. If you have the opportunity please contact them to defeat the bill.
Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee
1.Sen. Detert (R) (Chair), email@example.com, (850) 487-5081
2.Sen. Dockery (R) (Vice Chair),firstname.lastname@example.org, (850) 487-5040
3.Sen. Anitere Flores (R), email@example.com, (850) 487-5130
4.Sen. Gaetz (R), firstname.lastname@example.org, (850) 487-5009
5.Sen. Lyn (R), email@example.com, (850) 487-5033
6.Sen. Montford (D), firstname.lastname@example.org, (850) 487-5004
7.Sen. Ring (D), email@example.com, (850) 487-5094
House Civil Justice Sub-Committee
1. Rep. Eisnaugler (R) (Chair); Eric.firstname.lastname@example.org,(850) 488-9770
2. Rep. Ford (Vice Chair) (R), email@example.com, (850) 488-0895.
For ease, we suggest that you attach the Section’s Position Paper on the Bill (which is attached).
Please contact Eddie Palmer (firstname.lastname@example.org), Carlos Osorio(email@example.com), or Henk Milne (firstname.lastname@example.org) for information on how you otherwise can become involved in this critical effort.
Now is the time to step up and help your Section, your clients, and your practice!