Federal Arbitration Act

The U.S. Supreme Court issued a unanimous decision on June 1 in GE Energy Power Conversion France SAS, Corp. v. Outokumpu Stainless USA, LLC, holding that, in some circumstances, even nonsignatories to an agreement may invoke international arbitration. The Court ruled that the U.N. Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (the New York Convention) did not prohibit the application of the U.S. doctrine of equitable estoppel to permit the enforcement of arbitration agreements by nonsignatories. In doing so, the Court clarified that the doctrine of equitable estoppel recognized under Chapter 1 of the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) for U.S. domestic arbitrations could also be applied to international arbitration proceedings governed by Chapter 2 of the FAA.

For parties who regularly engage in multi-tiered international commercial arrangements like the kind seen in GE Energy, the ruling expands the reach of international arbitration agreements and gives those parties greater clarity into their own ability to utilize international arbitration to resolve complex disputes.
Continue Reading Supreme Court Interprets New York Convention to Allow Arbitration Agreement Nonsignatories to Invoke International Arbitration

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

Buhler, Inc. v. Reuter Recycling of Florida, Inc.,
889 F. Supp. 1126, 1995 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 9815 (D. Minn. Jul. 10, 1995)
Based on interpretation of two differing arbitration provisions, an owner did not waive its right to arbitrate its claim against designer of facility and seller of equipment by failing to consolidate the arbitration proceeding with the proceeding against its general contractor.

Continue Reading US District Court in Minnesota Holds that Owner Did Not Waive Right to Arbitrate Against Designer by Failing to Join it in Arbitration Against Contractor