Byrne Chairs Global Series on Letter of Credit Law and Practice
George Mason's Professor James E. Byrne chaired a series of programs on Letter of Credit Law and Practice around the globe over the last six months. The venues included Charlotte, North Carolina (sponsored by Bank of America); Copenhagen (sponsored by Nordea Bank); Dubai (co-sponsored by Commercial Bank of Dubai); San Francisco, CA (sponsored by Bingham McCutchen); Hong Kong (sponsored by DHL); Singapore (sponsored by DBS and the Association of Bankers in Singapore); and Kuala Lumpur (sponsored by the Malaysia Bankers Association). Approximately 500 bankers, corporate letter of credit users, attorneys, and academics attended these sessions from approximately 34 countries. Since 1992 when Professor Byrne launched the first LC Surveys in New York, the programs have expanded to become the premier event in the field, addressing cutting edge legal and practice issues. For three years (2001-2003), the North American program was held at the George Mason Law School campus. George Mason alums John Rickenbacker (GMUSL 2003) (Hunton Williams) (Charlotte) and Mohamed Hassan (GMUSL 2006) (Baker & McKenzie) (Dubai) were present, and current George Mason students interning with Byrne were present at the events in Charlotte, Dubai, Hong Kong, and Singapore.
Professor Byrne also reported to the Spring 09 (Vancouver) and Fall 09 (Chicago) meetings of the American Bar Association's Letter of Credit Subcommittee of the Uniform Commercial Code Committee/Business Law Section on developments on the United Nations Convention on Independent Guarantees and Standby Letters of Credit. At the request of the U.S. State Department, Byrne chaired the U.S. delegation to the United Nation Convention on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) Working Group from 1988-1995 that drafted the LC Convention and at the request of the UNCITRAL Secretariat has subsequently chaired its Group of Experts advising on its implementation. An estimated U.S.$ 1 trillion is outstanding in standby letters of credit and independent guarantees. Although the U.S. signed the LC Convention, it has not ratified it, and many countries are awaiting U.S. action before adopting it. Interest in the LC Convention was rekindled when the Uniform Law Commissioners of Canada initiated a project to draft a model domestic letter of credit statute for adoption by the provinces analogous to U.S. Revised UCC Article 5 coupled with adoption of the UN LC Convention. Byrne, together with James G. Barnes (Baker & McKenzie, Chicago) with whom he has worked closely for many years, have consulted regularly with the Canadian drafting group. When the U.S. Uniform Law Commissioners appointed a drafting group to consider ULC endorsement of US adoption of the Convention, Byrne was appointed American Bar Association representative on behalf of the UCC Committee. In that role, he has advised the Reporter, Professor James J. White of the University of Michigan, in drafting a memorandum on the LC Convention for submission to Congress and has assisted in drafting a federal statute connected with US implementation. He also continues to work with the U.S. State Department and the Secretariat of UNCITRAL in connection with U.S. adoption. Byrne plans to write a commentary on the text to assist in its understanding.