New York Convention Roadshow in Mexico City

27 March 2019

The Roadshow was attended by respected members of the judiciary as well as the crème de la crème of the Mexican arbitration community. Internationally renowned practitioners including former ICCA President Albert Jan van den Berg and current ICCA President Gabrielle Kaufmann-Kohler also attended the event. Prof. Kaufmann-Kohler gave the opening remarks along with Justice Gutierrez Ortíz Mena, a respected Justice who penned one of the most applauded Mexican Supreme Court decisions involving arbitration in Mexican history.


The format followed the traditional ICCA New York Convention Roadshow structure: a dialogue between practitioners and judges that is focused on the interpretation and application of the New York Convention (NYC). Attendees were provided with a thorough compilation of Mexican judicial decisions of all levels and each session focused on a different NYC topic. Panels were made up of two speakers and two commentators. The two speakers, one  a judge and one an arbitration expert, were asked to initiate the discussion for a topic by sharing their perspectives as a judge or arbitration expert. The commentators were then invited to comment on these perspectives. Thereafter, the audience was invited to ask questions and submit comments. This structure allowed for an inclusive discussion and the judiciary engaged with the topics with enthusiasm. 


One thing that occurred, which is telling of the success of the event, is the following. Justice Gutierrez Ortiz Mena began his remarks by asking a series of questions and premises that should always be considered.


The questions were: 

  1. Is there a Constitutional right to arbitration?
  2. What is the standard of review of awards?


The premises to observe were:  

  1. Arbitration is not the waiver of a constitutional right, but an exercise of constitutional rights.
  2. There is no reason to prefer State Justice to private justice. (There is no “pro-action preference for State Justice” were the Justice’s exact words.) The State should be neutral with regards to alternative dispute mechanisms, he emphasized.
  3. As to the revision of arbitral awards, a standard of deference should exist.  As long as the decision is rational, it shall be respected.


I think it is fair to conclude that Mexico’s arbitration future is promising – at least from the perspective of the judicial application of the New York Convention.