Monday, June 20, 2011

The interplay of comparative law and Law 75: is it appropriate for guidance?

“[A] U.S. Court interpreting a federal statute or constitutional provision can look at the reasoning of a foreign or international tribunal on similar issue.” Al-Bihani v. Obama, 619 F.3d 1, 33 n. 18 (D.C. Cir. 2010)(Kavanaugh, J., concurring), citing Ruth Ginsburg, “A decent respect to the Opinions of [Human] kind”; The Value of a Comparative Perspective in Constitutional Adjudication, Address to the International Academy of Comparative Law (July 30, 2010). While foreign decisions do not rank as precedent, they can be informative and just as persuasive as reasoned law review articles or commentators on the subject matter. See, i.d.

When interpreting Law 75 it is advisable to resort to common law and civil law jurisdictions for their persuasive value. Foreign jurisdictions which can be persuasive include Spain, Cuba and the Dominican Republic, the last two have statutes similar and preceding ours. But common law jurisdictions have also shaped many of the amendments to the presumptions of lack of just cause in Law 75, including California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Mississippi, North Carolina, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, and possibly, Wisconsin. See Report of the Chamber of Commerce of Puerto Rico, P. of C. 774, at 3, April 23, 1986; Report of the Chamber of Commerce of Puerto Rico, P. of. C. 774, at 4 May 10, 1998.

Delaware enacted a “Franchise Security Law” on July 8, 1970 protecting certain franchisees with a place of business within the state from unjustified terminations. Damages include lost profits and loss of goodwill. “[Delaware law], within the ambit of legislation in the United States, is closest in its focus to Law 75.” See 97-page Study about Law 75 of 1964, Chamber of Commerce of Puerto Rico (undated)(translation ours).

In future blogs, I will comment about noteworthy state and foreign decisions which may be helpful to resolve open issues under Law 75.