Over the past decade, international arbitration has played an increasingly prominent role in the construction industry.  As contractors and owners pursue greater opportunities outside their domestic jurisdictions, international arbitration has provided parties with a reliable, flexible, and neutral forum to resolve disputes.  Indeed, a quick glance at the most recent statistics from any number of the leading international arbitral institutions, such as the International Chamber of Commerce and International Centre for Dispute Resolution, shows that construction arbitration accounts for one of the largest components of the institutions’ caseload.

Continue Reading International Arbitration and the Construction Industry: An Introduction to the Field of International Arbitration on October 11, 2019

BML Properties Ltd. v. China Construction America Inc., et al., 101 N.Y.S. 3d 597 (N.Y. App. Div. 2019)

On July 2, 2019, a New York appellate court upheld a lower court ruling by Justice Saliann Scarpulla, denying a state-backed Chinese contractor’s attempt to compel international arbitration arising out of a dispute involving the construction of the multibillion Baha Mar mega-resort in the Bahamas.  As a result of the ruling in BML Properties Ltd. v. China Construction America Inc., et al., 101 N.Y.S. 3d 597 (N.Y. App. Div. 2019), aff’ing No. 657550/2017 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. Jan. 24, 2019), the $2.25 billion lawsuit alleging “one of the largest construction-based frauds in this hemisphere” will remain in the New York courts.  As explained below, for those in the international construction industry, the case will be worth following.

Continue Reading New York Appellate Court Affirms Decision to Deny Motion to Compel Arbitration in Multi-Billion Dollar Construction Dispute

As many owners and contractors involved in the international construction industry are aware, international arbitration is a popular dispute resolution device for international construction disputes because, in part, international arbitration awards are, broadly speaking, enforceable in practically every jurisdiction in the world. This facet of international arbitration has been set out in the U.N. Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (the New York Convention) — a multilateral convention that requires the courts of the contracting states to recognize and enforce arbitration awards made by tribunals seated in other contracting states. Now, with 160 signatory states and the increasing popularity of international arbitration around the world, the New York Convention is widely viewed as one of the most successful international conventions ever.

Continue Reading New Conventions, New Problems?: A Pair of Recently Announced International Conventions Aim to Replicate the Success of the New York Convention

Gainesville Mech., Inc. v. Air Data, Inc., No. A19A0518., 2019 BL 229069 (Ga. Ct. App. June 19, 2019)

The First Division of the Georgia Court of Appeals affirmed a superior court’s decision to confirm an arbitration award against Appellant Gainesville Mechanical, Inc. (“Gainesville”) because Gainesville failed to show that the arbitrator manifestly disregarded the law governing the “modified total cost” approach to damages.

Continue Reading Georgia Court of Appeals Affirms Superior Court’s Confirmation of Arbitration Award, Finding That Arbitrator Did Not Manifestly Disregard Law Governing the “Modified Total Cost” Approach to Damages

Published in The Construction Lawyer, Volume 39, Number 1 Winter 2019. © 2019 American Bar Association. Reproduced with permission. All rights reserved. This information or any portion thereof may not be copied or disseminated in any form or by any means or stored in an electronic database or retrieval system without the express written consent

Pepper Hamilton attorneys Albert Bates and R. Zachary Torres-Fowler contributed the United States Construction Arbitration chapter to the Global Arbitration Review (GAR) Know-How series. Launched in 2006, GAR is a leading resource on international arbitration news and community intelligence.

The GAR Know-How series — an online Q&A resource that provides practitioners with guides on various

As discussed in our post from last year, on August 30, 2018, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a lower court decision to compel arbitration between an Alabama steel plant owner, Outokumpu Stainless USA, LLC (“OS”), and a French division of General Electric Co, GE Energy Power Conversion France SAS (formerly Converteam SAS). In so ruling, the Eleventh Circuit held that a non-signatory to a contract could not compel arbitration under the United Nations Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (the “New York Convention”), as incorporated in Chapter 2 of the Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”), through the doctrine of equitable estoppel. Dissatisfied with the Eleventh Circuit’s decision, on February 7, 2019, GE filed a petition for a writ of certiorari with the Supreme Court of the United States to review the Eleventh Circuit’s decision and on June 28, 2019, the Court granted the GE’s petition.  In the field of international construction arbitration, where multi-party disputes between owners, contractors, and subcontractors are common and where the rights of non-signatories to compel arbitration are regularly debated, the Supreme Court is slated to provide important guidance.
Continue Reading UPDATE: GE Energy Power Conversion France SAS v. Outokumpu Stainless USA, LLC: U.S. Supreme Court Grants Writ of Certiorari to Decide the Question of Whether the New York Convention Permits Non-Signatories to Compel Arbitration Under the Doctrine of Equitable Estoppel

SMJ Gen. Constr., Inc. v. Jet Commer. Constr., LLC, No. S-16785/16985, 2019 BL 131640 (Alaska Apr. 12, 2019)

In 2016, Jet Commercial Construction, LLC (“Jet”) entered into a subcontract with SMJ General Construction, Inc. (“SMJ”) to supply materials and labor for the construction of a restaurant in Hawaii.  The subcontract contained a dispute resolution provision that required the parties to first mediate any dispute and then submit it to arbitration if mediation was unsuccessful.  It also included a choice-of-law and venue provision designating Oklahoma Law and the courts of Cleveland County, Oklahoma for any lawsuits pertaining to the Agreement’s enforcement.

Continue Reading Alaska’s Supreme Court Holds That Executing a Settlement Agreement Releases Parties from Contractual Obligation to Arbitrate Disputes

Aspic Eng’g & Constr. Co. v. ECC Centcom Constructors LLC, No. 17-16510, 2019 BL 26363 (9th Cir. Jan. 28, 2019)

Aspic Engineering and Construction Company (“Aspic”), a local Afghan subcontractor, entered into multiple subcontracts with ECC Centcom Constructors and ECC International (“ECC”), the prime contractor, to construct buildings and facilities in Afghanistan.  The subcontracts contained terms and conditions “applicable to all U.S. Government subcontracts,” and mandated that Aspic owed ECC the same obligations that ECC owed to the federal government.  The subcontracts also incorporated multiple Federal Acquisition Regulation (“FAR”) clauses, including FAR 49.2 through 49.6, which govern the recovery of expenses in the event a contractor is terminated for convenience, i.e. required documentation and procedures.

Continue Reading Ninth Circuit Finds Arbitration Award Is ‘Irrational’ Because It Disregards the Contract’s Plain Text Simply to Reach a Just Result

Univ. of Iowa Bd. of Regents v. Am. Arbitration Ass’n, No. 17-0949, 2019 BL 7069 (Iowa Ct. App. Jan. 09, 2019)

Modern Piping, Inc. (“Modern Piping”) and the University of Iowa, Board of Regents, and State of Iowa (“University”) entered into two construction contracts, both containing arbitration provisions.  Disputes arose related to each contract and Modern Piping filed a demand for arbitration with the American Arbitration Association (AAA).  The University filed an action against AAA, seeking to enjoin it from arbitrating the disputes.  AAA filed a motion for summary judgment on the grounds that arbitral immunity doctrine applied.  The district court granted AAA’s motion and the University appealed.

The doctrine of arbitral immunity provides that arbitrators are immune from liability for acts performed in their arbitral capacity and generally shields all functions which are integrally related to the arbitral process.  The doctrine applies to a claim against an arbitrator where the claim effectively seeks to challenge the decisional act of an arbitrator or arbitration panel.  The immunity extends to associations administering arbitration procedures.

Continue Reading The Doctrine of Arbitral Immunity Applied to an Arbitral Organization Absent a Showing of Clear Lack of Jurisdiction