On 16 January 2012, the P.R.I.M.E. Finance Foundation has started its activities with an opening conference followed by seminars on Dispute Resolution in the Financial Markets in the Peace Palace in The Hague.
The Foundation oversees the activities of its Panel of Recognized International Market Experts in Finance (P.R.I.M.E. Finance), chosen for their relevant experience in financial market practice or law. The aim is for them to provide a sophisticated service in support of financial market dispute settlement for both mature and developing financial markets.
The idea of setting up an international court which deals with complex financial products, particularly over the counter derivatives, has been discussed in legal circles the past two years. Rapid growth and ever-increasing complexity in the financial markets calls for innovative solutions to dispute settlement. To date, national courts and ad hoc arbitration have been unable to produce a settled and authoritative body of law. In addition, judges do not always have the necessary expertise to deal with the complex products traded in the global market.
In her article in the Financial Times of January 15, 2012 Caroline Binham adds: "The financial crisis, exacerbated by the collapse of Lehman Brothers in September 2008, hastened calls for a specialist tribunal to decide thorny matters of finance. While judges sitting in courts in London and Manhattan have traditionally presided over financial disputes – because contracts tend to be written under New York or English law – some rulings have either been difficult to enforce in other jurisdictions or one court has ruled in opposition to another."
In his Word of Welcome to the Opening Conference of P.R.I.M.E. Finance, the chairman of the P.R.I.M.E. Finance Foundation, professor Jeffrey Golden, explains the P.R.I.M.E. Finance project is "dedicated to three core activities:
1) independent dispute settlement through arbitration, mediation and expert determinations, opinions and risk assessments (...)
2) education and judicial training
3) development of a library and database of relevant international precedents and resources."