SWIICL Newsletter

September 2021

  • Editor – Brandon White

Message from the Director

Welcome to the reinstituted Newsletter of the Southwestern Institute for International and Comparative Law (SWIICL). There have been many challenges for SWIICL the last eighteen months because of the pandemic. Although many programs at The Center for American and International Law (CAIL) have continued or been able to recover after a short break, international programs such as those hosted by SWIICL have been much more affected by the pandemic. During this challenging time, all of us at CAIL and SWIICL are profoundly grateful for the continued support of our members and supporters.

Although we are still in the grips of the pandemic, SWIICL is once again focusing on the future. The revitalization of SWIICL’s Newsletter is one way for us to begin to highlight our important work, members, and Academy alumni. We will publish the Newsletter quarterly and ask for your assistance by submitting articles and providing member news.

SWIICL has also begun planning the next Academy of American and International Law in the hopes that the Academy can be held in May and June of 2022. Information regarding the Academy program should be available by the end of September. We are looking forward to welcoming our international members and guests back to Texas and renewing SWIICL’s flagship program.

In the upcoming months, SWIICL will also begin to review its leadership structure and explore new opportunities for serving our members and the international legal community. If you are interested in participating in the future of SWIICL, please reach out to me at jray@cailaw.org.

Jay E. Ray
Director of the Southwestern Institute for International and Comparative Law


Did you miss the previous Dean Robert G. Storey Rule of Law Lectures? You can register to view the recordings below:

Legal News

Mark Baker

Doing Justice in the Face of a Global Pandemic – Insights from a Leading Arbitrator
By C. Mark Baker, Norton Rose Fulbright US LLP

The global disruption caused by the novel Coronavirus COVID-19 has impacted all areas of life and all sectors of industry, including legal practice and dispute resolution. In the immediate wake of the wide disruptions and restrictions imposed in response to the pandemic, the difficulties faced by parties, counsel, arbitrators and arbitral institutions (not to mention the many other essential participants such as fact witnesses, experts, translators and transcribers) in resolving disputes efficiently and effectively at first glance seemed overwhelming. Dispute resolution – whether mediation, arbitration, litigation or other – has historically relied for good reason on bringing all participants together in one room to hash out a resolution. But that is no longer practical nor permitted in many instances (nor indeed wise). We have had to adapt, swiftly, our pre-conceived notions about how disputes can or should be resolved.

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Moises Flores Gomez

Mexico's Subcontracting Regime Amendment
By Moisés Flores Gómez, Basham, Ringe y Correa, S.C.

On April 23rd, 2021, a decree was published in Mexico´s Official Gazette amending, adding and abrogating several provisions of the Federal Labor Law, the Social Security Law, the Law of the National Workers' Housing Fund Institute, as well as the Federal Tax Code, the Income Tax Law and the Value Added Tax Law, regarding Labor Subcontracting.

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Christoph Schroder

Germany’s Supply Chain Due Diligence Act
By Dr. Christoph Schröder, CMS Germany

In June, the German legislature passed the Supply Chain Due Diligence Act ("SCDDA"; in German: Lieferkettensorgfaltspflichtengesetz – LkSG). It will come into force on 1 January 2023. That leaves limited time for in-scope companies to prepare for the new due diligence obligations.

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Jose Zapata

Colombia's Attempt to Lead Renewable Energy Law in LATAM
By Jose V. Zapata, Holland & Knight

For various years now, Colombia has been placing particular attention to renewable energy. With still much potential in the continued development of non-renewables, the need to find an appropriate and stable energy mix that can ensure its commitments to sustainable development and climate change, have triggered increasing attention to its energy transition. Quite recently, on July 10, 2021, Law 2099 was formally sanctioned (the "Energy Transition Law" or "Law 2099"). This law is now being seen as an example to follow by other countries in LATAM, advancing the energy transition, ensuring dynamic energy markets and opening the door for new energy technologies.

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Mark Baker

Socioeconomic Consequences of Measures Against Pandemic; Democratic Effect
By Georgios A Karalis, JSD Law School, National & Kapodistrian University of Athens

The global COVID-19 crisis and measures taken against its spread cause various effects in societies. They threaten financial stability and the worldwide well known "acquis democratique". As an evident impact, Executive Authority temporarily dominates over the Judicial. Social interaction, present in courts, is protected by constitutional institutions, serving the principal bases of Justice; its absence, though essential against infections, directly hits social stability.

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Interview with Bernard Hanotiau

Academy Alumnus Bernard Hanotiau, who will be speaking in the upcoming Storey Lecture in September, joined us to reflect on his Academy experience and share his thoughts on its importance and impact for young professionals.

Bernard Hanotiau

Bernard Hanotiau
Hanotiau & van den Berg
Brussels, Belgium

When did you attend the Academy and what was your motivation?

Bernard: I attended the Academy exactly fifty years ago. At that time, travelling from Europe to the United States was still something exceptional. And learning American law was a dream for many students. I saw the leaflet containing the program of the Academy at the University of Louvain where I was Assistant Professor of Private International Law. I decided to apply and I was accepted. At that time, I was also applying for admission in various universities in the United States for a post-graduate LLM program and I had been accepted at Columbia University.

Do you have a special Academy memories that you are fond of?

Bernard: I have a fantastic memory of the Academy. The courses were excellent. In a few weeks, I have acquired a deep knowledge of American law in many areas. I have a also a great memory of the atmosphere prevailing among students. We had a great time together and several of them have remained friends for many years. I had also the pleasure of being sponsored by a Texan businessman with whom I travelled all around Texas and even in Mexico. I found Texas was a great State and that the Texans were among the most friendly people in the word.

How did participation in the Academy benefit you professionally and personally?

Bernard: Participating in the Academy was one of the greatest experiences of my career not only from an academic but also from a human perspective. If I was again twenty years old and I would have the opportunity to attend the Academy, I would definitely do it. I have been so overwhelmed by the experience that I have returned to Dallas in June at many occasions, in particular to attend the Symposium organized by the ITA. I was planning to return this year, fifty years after I attended the Academy. The pandemia has prevented me from doing this but I intend to go back next year.

What would you advise individuals considering attending the Academy in 2022?

Bernard: I consider that attending the Academy is one of the greatest experiences that can be done by a young professional. I will forever remain indebted to the Foundation for the opportunity they gave me fifty years ago.

Alumni Focus

This issue we caught up with Alumna Sarah Merrett, the Secretary General of the 2018 Academy Class. Sarah is currently Special Counsel at Baker & McKenzie in Brisbane, Australia

Sarah Merrett

Sarah Merrett
Baker & McKenzie
Brisbane, Australia

What was your motivation to attend the Academy of American and International Law?

Sarah: Every year, our firm offers a global scholarship to two lawyers to attend the Academy in Texas, and then a similar scholarship to attend a similar programme in Berkeley. Two of my colleagues from Sydney had attended the other programme and had reported what a fantastic experience it had been for them. When I studied the two programmes, the Academy stood out to me and I applied for the scholarship. I was fortunate enough to be selected and was able to attend the Academy in 2018, and then to spend an extra three weeks exploring Texas, Florida and the Caribbean.

What stands out about your time at the Academy?

Sarah: The Academy was an incredibly enriching experience. It was fascinating to meet lawyers from so many countries, to hear about how they practise overseas, to listen to lecturers talk about a variety of interesting topics and to try all of the local takeaway options each day for lunch! I was especially impressed by the extra-curricular activities, such as visiting a courthouse in session to hear about an NBA player trying to evict his mother from his house, visiting Bryan Garner's house and his amazing home library, meeting local hosts and talking to the law enforcement officers who were studying a course in our building.

Do you have a special Academy memory that you are fond of?

Sarah: The ride-along with a Plano police officer was a very special experience. We investigated a stolen car and I observed a traffic stop! 

How has being the Secretary General of your class helped you stay connected with the Academy and your classmates?

Sarah: Being chosen as the Secretary General gave me the opportunity to stay more closely involved with the Academy, including liaising with my classmates, other alumni and the Academy team to consider ways to improve our outreach and to ensure that feedback was taken on board and the Academy could be adapted to enrich the experience of its attendees.

Is there anything you learned at the Academy that you have used in your professional or personal life? 

Sarah: The Academy gave me a new appreciation of how lucky I am to practise law in Australia under our mutual recognition regime that applies to each State and Territory, and to be able to move freely between jurisdictions in our country, without having to undertake further studies or further exams.

What have you been doing since leaving the Academy?

Sarah: I've been working hard! I was promoted to Special Counsel while I was at the Academy, so I have settled into that role. Our clients are very busy in the commercial real estate sphere so we've been working non-stop to keep up with the pace of acquisitions and developments by clients, and have been very fortunate to escape many of the impacts of COVID-19 here in Australia.

What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about attending the Academy in 2022?

Sarah: Just do it! It's a terrific experience and has something for everyone. The variety of topics you learn about means that you won't be bored and you'll meet some amazing fellow lawyers and learn a lot!

Special Contribution

In 2017, SWIICL awarded the Dean Robert G. Storey International Award for Leadership to Mohamed Shafie Ameermia, then the National Commissioner on the South African Human Rights Commission. The Storey Award was established to pay tribute to our founder, Robert G. Storey. It recognizes Dean Storey's dedication to peace, justice and the rule of law in the international community.

Mr. Ameermia’s acceptance speech on ethical business and human rights remains a relevant topic today. His full remarks can be viewed at the link below.

Read More

Member News

Mark Baker

C. Mark Baker

Mark Baker is a Partner and Global Co-Head of International Arbitration based in the Houston office of Norton Rose Fulbright US LLP. Mark and his global team just launched their new website on climate change and sustainability disputes which has is a fantastic selection of resources including industry perspectives and cross-border guides to climate change law and regulations (covering 16 jurisdictions). They also launched their cross-border guide to parent company liability for conduct of foreign subsidiaries – a very hot topic right now for any company with overseas operations. Mark was also interviewed by Burford for an Expert insights piece on Trends in the oil and gas sector. And last but not least, he has co-authored a chapter on Mining Arbitration for a text book on international arbitration, which is soon to be published.

Mark Baker

Irakli Kandashvili

Dr. Irakli Kandashvili, Secretary General of the Academy Class of 2007 and the Advisory Board Member of SWIICL was elected as the first ever Chairman of the Mediators Association of Georgia, which is a Legal Entity of Public Law created as per law on Mediation, entered into force from January 01, 2020.

Shafie Ameermia

Shafie Ameermia

Mohamed Shafie Ameermia is embarking on a new chapter in his life post his 7-year term of office as National Commissioner on the South African Human Rights Commission (February 2014 to February 2021), where the Academy (SWIICL-DALLAS) awarded him in 2017 the Dean Robert G Storey International Leadership Award for his contributions to human rights locally and globally.  

The Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture for the Republic of South Africa has appointed him as a Commissioner on the Social Cohesion Advocates Forum for the Republic of South Africa πŸ‡ΏπŸ‡¦  for a period of 4 years, in recognition for his contributions to promoting a culture of human rights, locally and globally, and promoting social cohesion and nation building in the Republic of South Africa πŸ‡ΏπŸ‡¦.