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Posts Tagged ‘Buckeye Check Cashing v. Cardengna’

Does a Clear and Unmistakable Delegation Provision Require the Parties to Arbitrate Disputes About the Existence of an Arbitration Agreement?

April 27th, 2019 Arbitrability, Arbitration Agreements, Arbitration and Mediation FAQs, Arbitration as a Matter of Consent, Arbitration Practice and Procedure, Arbitration Provider Rules, Authority of Arbitrators, Existence of Arbitration Agreement, Federal Arbitration Act Section 2, Federal Arbitration Act Section 3, Federal Arbitration Act Section 4, Rights and Obligations of Nonsignatories, Separability, Severability, United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, United States Supreme Court No Comments »
Arbitrability Question 5 | Delegation Clause | Delegation Provision

Parties can, and frequently do, agree to include in their contract a so-called
“Delegation Provision” that clearly and unmistakably delegates to the arbitrators questions of arbitrability. (See, e.g., Loree Reinsurance and Arbitration Law Forum posts here, here, here, and here.) Questions of arbitrability include questions concerning: (a) the scope of an arbitration agreement, that is, whether the parties agreed to arbitrate particular disputes or categories of disputes; (b) the validity or enforceability of an arbitration agreement “upon upon such grounds as exist at law or in equity for the revocation of any contract[,]” 9 U.S.C. § 2; or (c) whether an arbitration agreement has been formed or concluded, that is, whether an arbitration agreement exists in the first place. (See Loree Reinsurance and Arbitration Law Forum post here.)

Typically, a “delegation provision” states in clear and unmistakable terms that arbitrability questions are to be decided by the arbitrators. For example, by making part of their contract Rule 8.1 of the 2018 version of the International Institute for Conflict Prevention and Resolution (CPR)’s Non-administered Arbitration Rules, parties agree to the following broad Delegation Provision:

Rule 8: Challenges to the Jurisdiction of the Tribunal

8.1 The Tribunal shall have the power to hear and determine challenges to its jurisdiction, including any objections with respect to the existence, scope or validity of the arbitration agreement. This authority extends to jurisdictional challenges with respect to both the subject matter of the dispute and the parties to the arbitration.

CPR Non-Administered Arbitration Rule 8.1 (2018) (emphasis added).

Who Gets to Decide whether the Parties Entered into a Delegation Provision?

Federal Arbitration Act  | Who Gets to Decide? | Delegation Provision

Suppose that Agent A, without the knowledge and consent of Party A, purports to bind Party A to a written contract with Party B, which includes a broad arbitration agreement that expressly incorporates by reference, and makes part of the purported contract, the 2018 version of CPR’s Non-administered Arbitration Rules. Party B and Agent A deal with each other concerning the subject matter of the contract, and a dispute arises.

Party B demands arbitration of the dispute, and serves an arbitration demand on Party A, who is understandably surprised at being named a party in an arbitration proceeding concerning a purported agreement of which it had no knowledge, objects to the arbitration demand, and Party B commences an action to compel arbitration.

In the proceeding to compel arbitration, Party A argues that Agent A had no actual or apparent authority to bind it to the agreement that contained the arbitration agreement. Party B responds that because the Delegation Clause made part of the agreement requires arbitration of issues concerning the “existence” of the arbitration agreement, Party A must arbitrate the issue of whether Agent A had authority to bind it to the agreement.

Must Party A arbitrate the issue whether Agent A had authority to bind it to the agreement because the agreement contains a Delegation Provision? If the only consideration were the text of Rule 8.1, then the answer would be “yes.”

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International Institute for Conflict Prevention and Resolution Newsletter Features Philip J. Loree Jr. Cover Story on Rent-A-Center and Granite Rock

March 16th, 2010 Arbitrability, Authority of Arbitrators, Labor Arbitration, United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, United States Supreme Court Comments Off on International Institute for Conflict Prevention and Resolution Newsletter Features Philip J. Loree Jr. Cover Story on Rent-A-Center and Granite Rock

The March 2010 issue of Alternatives to the High Cost of Litigation, the excellent newsletter of the International Institute for Conflict Prevention and Resolution (“CPR”), featured as its cover story an article I wrote on Rent-A-Center West v. Jackson, No. 09-497, and Granite Rock Co. v. Int’l Brotherhood of Teamsters, No. 08-1214, two of the three cases pending before the United States Supreme Court this term.  The article is entitled “It’s Time for Doctrines: The Supreme Court Wrestles with ‘Severability’ and the ‘Clear and Unmistakable’ Standard.” 

These two cases involve, to some degree, the Buckeye Check Cashing/Prima Paint doctrine of severability—a/k/a “separability.”  Rent-A-Center also examines the “clear and unmistakable doctrine,” under which arbitrators can decide arbitrability questions if the parties clearly and unmistakably so agree. 

Rent-a-Center, which arises under the Federal Arbitration Act,  raises the question whether courts or arbitrators get to decide whether an arbitration agreement is unconscionable if the parties clearly and unmistakably agree to submit arbitrability questions to arbitration.  (See our prior posts here, here and here.)   Granite Rock, which arises under Section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act, concerns whether, on the facts presented, arbitration must go forward and what it should encompass.  (See our prior post here.)

In the article I argue that both cases were wrongly decided by the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and that, in Granite Rock, the Ninth Circuit reached the right result (an order compelling arbitration) for the wrong reasons.  I predict that the United States Supreme Court will reverse the Rent-A-Center decision and vacate the Granite Rock decision.

Alternatives to the High Cost of Litigation is a subscription-only publication.   Anyone interested in obtaining a copy of the article can request one at this page.  Subscription information is available at that page, too, as well as publisher John Wiley & Sons, here.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank CPR, and Russ Bleemer, Editor of Alternatives, for their kind assistance and support in featuring my article.  Russ is not only a keen, professional editor, but a pleasure to work with as well.

Update on Federal Arbitration Act Cases Pending in the United States Supreme Court

September 29th, 2009 Awards, Class Action Arbitration, Class Action Waivers, Consolidation of Arbitration Proceedings, United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit 1 Comment »

Today the United States Supreme Court is considering whether to grant certiorari in three cases that concern whether manifest disregard of the law remains a viable ground for vacating or modifying an arbitration award after Hall Street Assoc., L.L.C. v. Mattel , Inc, 552 U.S. ___, slip op. (March 25, 2008).  The first is The Coffee Beanery, Ltd. v. WW, LLC, 300 Fed. Appx. 415 (6th Cir. 2008), petition for cert. filed May 11, 2009 (08-1396), in which the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit held that manifest disregard survived Hall Street as an independent ground for vacatur, and that an award in favor of a franchisor must be vacated because the arbitrator manifestly disregarded Maryland franchise law requiring franchisors to disclose certain types of prior criminal convictions.  The Sixth Circuit also found that the franchisor’s failure to disclose the conviction vitiated the arbitration clause contained in the franchise contract, a holding that seems questionable in light of Buckeye Check Cashing v. Cardegna, 546 U.S. 440, 449 (2006). 

The second case is Grain v. Trinity Health, 551 F.3d 374 (6th Cir. 2008), petition for cert. filed May 19, 2009 (08-1446), in which the Sixth Circuit held that the arbitrators’ failure to enforce the parties’ choice of Michigan law as respects the issue of costs and attorney fees — characterized as manifest disregard of the law — was not a valid ground for modifying an arbitration award under Federal Arbitration Act Section 11.  

The third is Improv West Associates v. Comedy Club, Inc.,  553 F.3d 1277 (9th Cir. ), petition for cert. filed June 8, 2009 (08-1529), in which the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held that manifest disregard of the law remained viable after Hall Street because it fell within the ambit of Federal Arbitration Act Section 10(a)(4), and vacated an award on the ground that the arbitrator’s interpretation of applicable state law was “fundamentally incorrect,” albeit made in good faith. 

The briefs in support of and in opposition to both petitions, as well as the lower court decisions, can be obtained by visiting one of our favorite blogs, the SCOTUSblog, here and  here.  It will be interesting to see whether the United States Supreme Court decides to grant certiorari in any or all of these cases.   

On a related matter, Petitioners’ and amici merits briefs in  Stolt-Nielsen, S.A. v. AnimalFeeds Int’l Corp., 548 F.3d 85 (2d Cir. 2009), petition for cert. granted June 15, 2009 (No. 08-1198) can be accessed via the American Bar Association’s website, here.  Respondent’s briefs are due later in October and oral argument has been scheduled for December 9, 2009.  (See Russ Kunkel’s LawMemo Arbitration Blog here).  We have written extensively on Stolt-Nielsen, which concerns whether class arbitration may be imposed on parties whose contracts are silent on that point.  (Posts available here,  here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here.)  

 Finally, we are following the petition for certiorari filed in the American Express Merchants’ Litigation (blogged here), which has not yet come up for conference.   The Amex Merchants’ Litigation concerns whether class arbitration waivers comport with federal antitrust policy. 

We shall keep readers apprised of developments as and when they occur.  .  .  .

Jackson v. Rent-A-Center West, Inc.: Who Gets to Decide Whether an Arbitration Agreement is Unconscionable when the Parties Clearly and Unmistakably Say the Arbitrators Decide Arbitrability?

September 23rd, 2009 Arbitrability, Unconscionability, United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit 4 Comments »

I.            Introduction

We have explained in prior posts the First Options/AT&T Technologies rule that arbitrators get to decide arbitrability when the parties clearly and unmistakably so agree.  (See, e.g., here and here.)  That’s all well and good, but what happens when:  (a)  two parties sign an arbitration agreement which says, among other things, that the arbitrators shall decide any claim, including any claim concerning the applicability, formation or enforceability of the arbitration agreement; and (b) despite that clear and unmistakable agreement to arbitrate arbitrability, one of the parties challenges the arbitration agreement in court on unconscionability grounds?      

That is, for all practical purposes, what happened in Jackson v. Rent-A-Center West, Inc., ___ F.3d ___, slip op. (9th Cir. Sept. 9, 2009) (here).  And the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled 2-1 that the court gets to decide the question.  Continue Reading »

The Texas Supreme Court Says Court – Not Arbitrator — Gets to Decide Lack of Capacity Issue Notwithstanding the Severability Doctrine

July 21st, 2009 Arbitrability, Authority of Arbitrators, Texas Supreme Court Comments Off on The Texas Supreme Court Says Court – Not Arbitrator — Gets to Decide Lack of Capacity Issue Notwithstanding the Severability Doctrine

Karl Bayer’s and Victoria VanBuren’s Texas-based  Disputing blog recently reported on In re Morgan Stanley & Co., Inc., __ S.W.3d __ (Texas 2009) (No. 07-0665), in which the Texas Supreme Court held that whether a contracting party had the capacity to enter into a contract containing an arbitration agreement was for the court to decide, notwithstanding that, under the severability (a/k/a “separability”) doctrine, a challenge to the validity or enforceability of a contract as a whole, including the arbitration agreement, is generally for the arbitrators to decide under a broad arbitration clause.  Ms. VanBuren did an excellent job summarizing the case and explaining its significance in her post, “Texas Supreme Court Holds that the Court, not the Arbitrator Should Decide the Issue of Capacity to Contract,” and we recommend that anyone interested in learning more about the case read her thoughtful and nicely-written post. 

Morgan Stanley illustrates that the severability doctrine —  first espoused by the United States Supreme Court in Prima Paint v. Conklin Mfg. Corp., 388 U.S. 395, 403-04 (1967) and later clarified in Buckeye Check Cashing v. Cardengna, 546 U.S. 440, 449 (2006) — is not without its limits.  Severability is a legal fiction, which Courts apply for the purpose of determining whether arbitrators have the authority to determine certain disputes concerning the enforceability or validity of a contract containing an arbitration clause.  It deems the arbitration clause to be an agreement which stands on its own footing from the contract in which it is contained.  Continue Reading »