Recent Posts

September 05, 2016

Making US Arbitration Law Great Again

Dear foreign readers, this is one of those posts about the architecture of American arbitration law that may leave you convinced that the US could make itself great again by shredding the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) and installing in its place the UNCITRAL Model Law, or at least the Magna Carta. But do read on. This report concerns one of the infamous “circuit splits” — divergent positions among US federal courts of appeals — that may lead to definitive adjudication in the US Supreme Court. And whereas this split derives from opposite positions about what the Supreme Court has said…
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August 03, 2016

Null But Not Void

One may read several times over the long-awaited decision of the US Second Circuit Court of Appeals upholding the confirmation under the Panama Convention of a $300 million commercial arbitration award against Mexico that had been annulled by a Mexican court at its Mexican seat, searching upon each fresh reading for some hint of a more generous opening for US enforcement of annulled foreign awards than the very restrictive case of an annulment that offends fundamental principles of US public policy. The repeated readings are not likely to bear fruit; the Second Circuit evidently is willing to go only this…
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August 03, 2016

Bluster in the Windy City

Dear Readers, I do like Chicago. It’s my kind of town. The Friendly Confines. The Tarzan Pool.  The Tribune Tower. And of course, not to be missed, the US Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, usually friendly confines for arbitration awards. But sometimes even the best of friends can be cranky and difficult. They have bad hair days. And today, here in the friendly confines of my New York summer office, I submit to you that the eminent Seventh Circuit jurist Richard Posner had such a day in Bankers Life & Casualty Co. v. CBRE Inc., 2016 WL 4056400 (7th Cir….
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July 02, 2016

Patriot Games

Arbitration lawyers follow Tom Brady’s case as they would track a Patriots game while in dutiful attendance at a painfully mis-scheduled wedding of an in-law’s niece on an otherwise perfect October Sunday. At obsessively frequent intervals, they check the Internet for score updates and game highlights. You are reading this, so how can you disagree? Arbitration Commentaries is your nfl.com. You should know by now that the most popular Ted in Boston is not a Williams, not a Kennedy, but an Olson, as in Theodore C. Olson, the ex-Solicitor General now enlisted by the Brady team for the en banc…
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July 02, 2016

One Step at a Time

If you drafted this arbitration clause, ‘fess up: “In the event of any dispute and if the Parties cannot resolve the dispute through negotiation, the Parties agree first to try in good faith to settle the dispute by formal arbitration under the [ICC Rules] before submitting the matter to litigation….” Talk about a step clause to trip over. What is a district court judge to do? The answer: Enforce the arbitration agreement as an agreement for binding arbitration, the only form of arbitration the ICC Rules permit. So held a judge of the US District Court in New York. Celltrace…
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June 29, 2016

Penniless Parties

Get ready for the upcoming conference on Impecuniousness in Commercial Arbitration. No, not another session on third-party funding. Rather, our subject will be the law applicable to the inability of a party to pay its share of the arbitrators’ fees. And our main text will be a new (really) decision from the US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, holding that when an AAA commercial arbitration under the Commercial Rules has been terminated by the tribunal due to Claimant’s non-payment of deposits for arbitrator fees, and the reason for non-payment was genuine inability to pay, the federal district court should allow…
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