Laying Legal Groundwork for the Global Marketplace

Professor Roderick Wood represented Canada in latest round of UNIDROIT MAC Protocol negotiations

Ben Freeland - 27 December 2017

It's been another busy fall term for Professor Roderick Wood, who, when not imparting his vast legal knowledge to UAlberta Law students or writing research papers, is frequently on the job as an international advocate for improved legal systems to support today's global marketplace.

From October 2 to 6, 2017, Wood participated in the UNIDROIT Committee of Governmental Experts meeting at the Rome-based headquarters of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

The purpose of the conference was the drafting the Protocol to the Convention on International Interests in Mobile Equipment on Matters specific to Agricultural, Construction and Mining Equipment, also known as the 'MAC Protocol'. The MAC Protocol in turn is part of the Cape Town Convention on International Interests in Mobile Equipment, an international treaty ratified in 2001 aimed at standardizing laws around various types of international business transactions.

"Cost of borrowing and availability of secured credit for mining, agricultural and construction equipment vary vastly between countries at present," said Wood.

"The MAC Protocol attempts to achieve greater legal certainty, thereby enabling creditors to engage in a risk-assessment which in turn will result in the greater availability and lower-cost credit in these sectors, as has been achieved in the previous stages of the Cape Town process."

The MAC Protocol represents the fourth stage of the Cape Town process, following previous protocols pertaining to aircraft (Cape Town, 2001), railway rolling stock (Luxembourg, 2007) and space assets-primarily weather and telecommunications satellite components (Berlin, 2012).

Wood, who previously worked on the Space Assets Protocol, and who was on the drafting committee of the Luxembourg Protocol in respect of railway assets, was joined in Rome by Committee Chair Dominique D'Allaire, who headed the Canadian delegation, as well as Michel Deschamps of McCarthy Tétrault in Montreal.

The process of creating international standards for industrial transactions of this kind is extremely complex, Wood noted.

"One of the biggest challenges in these types of negotiations is finding workable systems that are compatible with the domestic institutions and legal systems in all the countries involved. This brute fact required that we begin the process with a provision stating that harmonization would be achieved in a "commercially sensible manner" that respects the differing legal environments of the parties involved."

Prof. Wood is the F.R. (Dick) Matthews QC Professor of Business Law at UAlberta Law and a faculty member since 1987. In September 2017 he received the Hon. Tevie H. Miller Teaching Excellence Award for the second time in his UAlberta Law career-having previously won the award in 2004.

Read more about his globetrotting adventures here.