It is not often I have the opportunity to write about my own cases. But today I do.
The Second Circuit yesterday decided a case called T. Co. Metals LLC v. Dempsey Pipe. It is found on 2d Cir. website, where you may read/download.
The portion of the decision that I hope is of interest involves the arbitrator’s issuance of an amended award altering the outcome on the merits, based on the arbitrator’s construction of ICDR Rule 30(1) permitting correction of “clerical” errors. Reversing the District Court, the Second Circuit holds that the arbitrator’s construction of the Rule was entitled to deference — and vacates the order confirming the original award, and remands for the amended award to be confirmed.
I invite your comments, as I am troubled by the decision for reasons that I think go beyond the disappointment of having my client on the losing side on this issue.
I argued that there had to be a limit to deference here, because there is no ground for the original award to be vacated. If the arbitrator may construe the clerical error rule, given judicial deference, to permit substantive chsnges in the outcome, there can be two enforceable awards with different outcomes (not to mention evisceration of the rules, like ICDR 30(1), limited changes to clerical,typographical and calculation errors.
The Court solves that problem by vacating the original award. But as I see it, there is no basis in the NY Convention (assuming it is a Convention award) to refuse confirmation of the original award, nor any such basis in FAA Chapter 1 if it is a domestic award. An appellate order vacating confirmation
strikes me as equivalent of district court order refusong confirmsation, and must be subject to the same FAA/Convention limits.
Is the vacatur of the order confirming orginal award is improper? I welcome your views on that!