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Professor Carl Bjerre Tackles Modernization of Commercial Law

Bjerre travels to Rome for meeting with UNIDROIT

Professor Carl Bjerre’s involvement with commercial law, including its cutting-edge changes, continues nonstop at the state, national and international levels.

Bjerre, the Wallace and Ellen Kaapcke Professor of Business Law, currently focuses on investment securities and other financial market transactions. After earning his J.D. magna cum laude from Cornell, he clerked for a federal district judge in New York City and then practiced with the international law firm of Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen, and Hamilton for six years.

Under the recommendations of previous Oregon Law deans Gene Scoles and Rennard Strickland, Bjerre was appointed by Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber in 2001 to the Uniform Law Commission (ULC). The ULC, in cooperation with the American Law Institute and American Bar Association, formulates much of the nation’s commercial law, including the Uniform Commercial Code, and recommends it for enactment by the 50 state legislatures which of course have final authority. Even before his appointment, Bjerre had been active in the ULC’s revisions to UCC Article 9, which governs secured transactions, and he also was active with the Oregon State Bar in helping the Oregon Legislature to adopt those revisions.

More recently, the ULC appointed Bjerre to the Article 9 Joint Review Committee, where he took part in drafting new changes to that Article. He anticipates working with the Oregon Law Commission for enactment of that committee’s revisions. The ULC has also asked Bjerre to assist other states nationwide in enacting revisions to UCC Articles 1 (setting out general principles applicable throughout the Code) and 7 (governing documents of title). Separately, Bjerre is at work on a comprehensive treatise on UCC Article 8, which governs ownership rights to securities.

Internationally, Bjerre was a member of the U.S. delegation for negotiations on the Geneva Securities Convention, which provides substantive rules for commerce in securities that are held through brokers or other intermediaries. Those negotiations were sponsored by UNIDROIT, the International Institute for the Unification of Private Law, and Bjerre continues to be involved with UNIDROIT in connection with the netting of derivative and other financial contracts. Netting is a commercial law remedy that is particularly important in connection with over-the-counter or exchange-traded contracts such as interest-rate or other swaps and commodities positions. Bjerre participated in an initial Study Group meeting on the topic of netting in April in Rome, and further meetings are expected this Fall and next year.

UNIDROIT is an independent intergovernmental organization that was originally established in 1926 as a part of the League of Nations. The organization is made up of 63 member nations from five different continents and focuses on modernizing and internationally harmonizing matters of commercial and other private law.

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