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The $4.1 Billion Arbitration Award: Update

June 19th, 2009 Awards, California State Courts Comments Off on The $4.1 Billion Arbitration Award: Update By Philip J. Loree Jr.

On June 14 we reported on the $4.1 billion arbitration award recently confirmed by a California state court, and provided our readers with some links to other articles on the subject.  (Post available here.)   Since that time we have been told that the defendants did not cross-move to vacate or otherwise respond to the motion to confirm, at least in any meaningful fashion.  We have not verified that assertion, but if true, there would not appear to be any meaningful ground for an appeal.   

We also understand (but have not independently verified) that Mr. Ringgenberg, who assumed the defense of the arbitration, was not a licensed attorney.  Ordinarily, corporate officers not licensed to practice law cannot lawfully represent corporations pro se.  Whether, and if so, to what extent, JAMS was aware that Mr. Ringgenberg was unlicensed (assuming he was unlicensed), and concluded that his representation of iFreedom was lawful,  is unclear to us.  It is also unclear to what extent the State Bar of California would consider such representation to be unlawful or simply a matter within the discretion of the ADR provider.   Whatever the facts and governing legal principles, from the standpoint of iFreedom and its shareholders, this case arguably demonstrates that allowing non-lawyer corporate officers to represent their corporations is not only inadvisable, but perhaps also should be the subject of more stringent and active regulation.  

For readers wishing to learn more about this award, we recommend reading Victoria Pynchon’s follow-up post on the subject (here), which includes a link to a National Law Journal interview of Alston & Bird partner Michael D. Young, who practices company-side employment law.  Mr. Young has also written two posts on the subject (here and here), and prominent employee-side lawyer Ellen Simon has written an interesting and informative  piece, here.  

Stay tuned….



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