Judicial “Wholly Groundless” Doctrine Regarding Delegation of Arbitrability Issues is Wholly Groundless Under the FAA
January 9, 2019| Blog
The U.S. Supreme Court has decided that the Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”) requirement that courts enforce arbitration agreements according to their terms includes the parties’ agreement to have an arbitrator decide “not only the merits of a particular dispute, but also ‘gateway’ questions of ‘arbitrability’....” Henry Schein, Inc. v. Archer & White Sales, Inc., No. 17-1272 (U.S. Jan. 8, 2019). (As is customary, the rookie Justice (Kavanaugh, J.) delivered the Court’s unanimous opinion.) This judgment, issued little more than two months after oral argument, shatters the “wholly groundless” doctrine, which purported to enable federal courts to adjudicate gateway arbitrability issues notwithstanding the parties’ clear and unmistakable delegation of such issues to an arbitral tribunal, if the court decided that the argument for arbitrability was “wholly groundless.” (The Courts of Appeals were split on the viability of that doctrinal exception.)
Consolidation of Arbitrations is a Procedural Matter Presumptively For the Arbitrator to Decide in Accordance With the Parties’ Agreement
January 4, 2019| Blog
Since arbitration is a process of dispute resolution in accordance with a private agreement, the question of consolidation of arbitral proceedings ought to be determined in the same manner as other procedural issues. In short, no agreement to permit consolidation, no consolidation.
November 30, 2018| Blog
In a previous post, we addressed what may happen when a defendant in federal litigation seeks to compel arbitration under Ch. 1 of the Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”), 9 U.S.C. § 4, but the applicable arbitration agreement specifies a place of arbitration that is outside the geographic jurisdiction of the federal court. (See https://www.mintz.com/insights-center/viewpoints/2017-07-spectre-haunts-motions-compel-arbitration-venue.) But what approaches are available to a defendant when a plaintiff files suit in a state court, the claim is subject to an arbitration agreement, and the agreed place of arbitration is in a different state?
New Rules of the Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre Arguably Foster Collective and Opt-In Class Arbitration
November 20, 2018| Blog
The Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre (“HKIAC”) has promulgated a new set of Administered Arbitration Rules (“AAR”), effective November 1, 2018. Among those rules are Articles 27-30 concerning the HKIAC’s powers to join additional parties in an arbitration, to consolidate arbitrations, to consolidate related claims in a single arbitration, and to coordinate related unconsolidated arbitral proceedings. Those powers, which the HKIAC can exercise without the consents of the parties to any bilateral arbitration agreement, are not trivial; among other things, they arguably institutionalize pathways to collective or opt-in class arbitration proceedings.
Seventh Circuit Agrees That Class Arbitrability is a Gateway Question Presumptively for the Court, Then Apparently Ignores the Delegation Issue
October 30, 2018| Blog
The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has joined five other Circuits in determining, unremarkably, that class or collective arbitrability is a gateway question that is presumptively for the court to decide. It then apparently ignored the issue of whether the parties delegated such arbitrability questions to an arbitrator. See Herrington v. Waterstone Mortgage Corp., No. 17-3609 (7th Cir. Oct. 22, 2018). (Yet we may infer from the Court’s decision that incorporation by reference in an arbitration agreement of the Employment Arbitration Rules of the American Arbitration Association does not constitute a clear and unmistakable manifestation of the parties’ intent to delegate the class/collective arbitrability question to an arbitrator.)
October 23, 2018| Blog
The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals held recently that it could not compel arbitration demanded by a non-signatory to an arbitration agreement when the New York Convention applied. See Outokumpu Stainless USA, LLC v. Converteam SAS (c/k/a GE Energy Power Conversion France SAS, Corp., No. 17-10944, 2018 WL 4122807 (11th Cir. Aug. 30, 2018).
Eleventh Circuit Adjudicates the Delegation Issue with Respect to “Class Arbitrability” No Differently Than for Bilateral Arbitration; but Who Is Bound?
October 17, 2018| Blog
The U.S. Supreme Court has pointed out consistently in recent years that the relatively new construct of “class arbitration” is very different from your uncle’s classic bilateral arbitration. (“Class arbitration” signifies the utilization of a class action protocol (Fed. R. Civ. P. 23) in an arbitration proceeding.) One might expect, therefore, that the adjudication of issues concerning the one would differ from the adjudication of the same issues concerning the other. Delegation of the arbitrability question is one such issue. Have the lower federal courts adopted such a view? Count the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals as another that has decided against it, and that whether the “class arbitrability” issue has been delegated to an arbitrator should be adjudicated using the same criteria as are applied to that issue with respect to bilateral arbitration.
October 9, 2018| Blog
In an unusual decision in an unusual case—a dispute between sovereigns—a U.S. appellate court recently vacated a domestic arbitration award on grounds other than those provided in Section 10 of the Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”). In Citizen Potawatomi Nation v. Oklahoma, 881 F.3d 1226 (10th Cir. 2018), the appellate court vacated the award because the parties’ agreement to arbitrate was deemed unenforceable. While the outcome of that case is, in considerable part, fact-specific, it involves issues having broader applicability.
FLSA Collective Action Provision, Too, Does Not Make Mandatory Bilateral Arbitration Agreements Unenforceable
August 30, 2018| Blog
In our sister blog, ADR: Advice from the Trenches, Gil Samberg explains the Sixth Circuit’s ruling, applying the Supreme Court’s reasoning in the recent Epic Systemscase, that the “collective action” provision of the FLSA does not render a collective action waiver in an arbitration agreement unenforceable.
Fair Labor Standards Act Collective Action Provision Too Does Not Make Agreement to Mandatory Bilateral Arbitration Unenforceable
August 27, 2018| Blog
When the Supreme Court ruled recently that the “concerted activities” provision of the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”) did not make a contractual waiver of “class arbitration” unenforceable, it provided an extensive analysis that included comments regarding the interaction of the Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”), the NLRA, and the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”).
August 20, 2018| Blog
The Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”) reflects a strong federal policy in favor of arbitration. In extraordinary cases, however, a dispute that otherwise would be arbitrable under the FAA could be rendered non-arbitrable by the operation of another federal statute. The
After Granting a Motion to Compel Arbitration, a Court Operating Under the FAA Should Stay, Not Dismiss, the Pending Suit. And Then What?
August 13, 2018| Blog
After granting a motion to compel arbitration, should a court operating under the FAA stay or dismiss the pending judicial proceeding? While the federal circuit courts are split on the question, the better rule seems to be that after granting a defendant’s motion to compel arbitration, FAA §4 (9 U.S.C. §4), the court should stay the judicial proceeding pending the arbitration.
August 1, 2018| Blog
Who may determine whether “class arbitration” has been authorized by the parties to an arbitration agreement — a court, an arbitrator, either? Considering the nature of “class arbitration,” is this a special case of the arbitrability delegation issue, or is this issue sui generis?
July 23, 2018| Blog
Third-party litigation and arbitration funding is increasingly being utilized in the United States. Are the corresponding financing costs recoverable in arbitrations?
When an agreement to arbitrate contains a clear and unmistakable “delegation” provision, gateway questions of arbitrability are for the arbitrator to decide. See, e.g., Kubala v. Supreme Prod. Servs., 830 F.3d 199, 201-02 (5th Cir. 2016), citing First Options of Chi., Inc. v. Kaplan, 514 U.S. 938, 942 (1995); Rent-A-Ctr., W., Inc. v. Jackson, 561 U.S. 63 (2010).
A Proposal: Adopt a “Clear and Unmistakable” Standard to Determine If Parties Have Agreed to “Class Arbitration”
July 9, 2018| Blog
The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that “class arbitration” may be permitted if an arbitration agreement authorizes it, Stolt-Nielsen v. AnimalFeeds Int’l Corp., 559 U.S. 662, 684 (2010), and that state contract law governs the interpretation of the parties’ arbitration agreement. A proposal: that an agreement to permit class arbitration must be “clear and unmistakable” to be enforceable.
Can Arbitrability Questions Concerning a Non-Signatory to the Arbitration Agreement Be “Delegated” to an Arbitrator?
June 27, 2018| Blog
“Gateway” arbitration issues, including the validity, enforceability, and scope of an arbitration agreement, are presumptively to be decided by a court, rather than by an arbitrator.
SCOTUS Throws a Haymaker at “Class Arbitration”: a Waiver of Class Arbitration in an Employment-Related Agreement Is Indeed Enforceable
June 21, 2018| Blog
The majority of a divided (5-4) SCOTUS recently held that a waiver of “class arbitration” in agreed terms of employment is indeed enforceable. In doing so, the Court advanced the legal analysis of “class arbitration” that was begun several years ago by Justice Antonin Scalia, confirmed that arbitration is fundamentally a creature of contract, and concluded, among other things, that the NLRA was not in conflict with and did not override or displace the FAA.
#MeAgain: New York Appellate Court Applies State Law to Vacate Arbitration Award As a Violation of Public Policy (Prohibiting Workplace Harassment)
June 12, 2018| Blog
Lest we forget, many are the arbitrations that are subject to state arbitration law rather than the Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”). And one should never underestimate the differences between those regimes. For example, under the FAA, the grounds for vacatur of an award are few and narrowly construed.
June 7, 2018| Blog
Arbitration is a creature of contract, and an arbitrator’s powers are in effect defined by the parties’ arbitration agreement. Paradoxically, although an arbitration agreement can be written (double-spaced) on one side of a cocktail napkin, in some cases it may grant greater authority to an arbitrator than a judge has.
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