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Archive for the ‘COVID-19 Considerations’ Category

MCA Group, Video Conference Hearings, and COVID-19 | Federal Arbitration Act Section 7 Part III | Businessperson’s Federal Arbitration Act FAQ Guide

May 19th, 2020 Arbitral Subpoenas, Arbitration and Mediation FAQs, Arbitration Law, Arbitration Practice and Procedure, Businessperson's FAQ Guide to the Federal Arbitration Act, COVID-19 Considerations, FAA Chapter 1, Federal Arbitration Act Section 7, Nuts & Bolts, Nuts & Bolts: Arbitration, Practice and Procedure, Pre-Award Federal Arbitration Act Litigation, Section 7, Subpoenas, United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, Video Conference Hearings No Comments »
MCA Group | Arbitral Subpoenas

The last instalment of the Businessperson’s Federal Arbitration Act FAQ Guide discussed whether under Section 7 of the Federal Arbitration Act arbitrators can issue an enforceable subpoena that purports to allow a witness to appear at a hearing via video conference or teleconference. It explained that the answer, at least according to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit in Managed Care Advisory Grp. v. CIGNA Healthcare, 939 F.3d 1145, 1158-61 (11th Cir. 2019) (“MCA Group”), is “no.”

In light of COVID-19 restrictions, in-person hearings are unlawful in certain jurisdictions, or at least contrary to government-issued medical guidance. As a practical matter that means the rule espoused by MCA Group would render unenforceable under Section 7 any arbitral subpoena seeking documents or testimony from a third party. Parties and non-parties may agree to comply with subpoenas authorizing video conference appearances, but those subpoenas cannot, under the reasoning of MCA Group, be enforced by courts under Federal Arbitration Act Section 7.

This instalment addresses the question whether other courts are likely to follow MCA Group, particularly in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Will Courts follow the 11th Circuit MCA Group Decision in Light of the COVID-19 Crisis?

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Compelling Video Conference Testimony | Arbitral Subpoenas |Section 7 of the Federal Arbitration Act Part II | Businessperson’s Federal Arbitration Act FAQ Guide

May 18th, 2020 Arbitral Subpoenas, Arbitration and Mediation FAQs, Arbitration Law, Arbitration Practice and Procedure, COVID-19 Considerations, FAA Chapter 1, Federal Arbitration Act Enforcement Litigation Procedure, Federal Arbitration Act Section 7, Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Nuts & Bolts: Arbitration, Section 7, Small Business B-2-B Arbitration, Subpoenas, United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, Video Conference Hearings 3 Comments »
video conference

Whether a Court can compel enforcement of an arbitral subpoena that commands a witness to appear at a hearing by video conference is a critical one, particularly in view of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The last instalment of this Businessperson’s Federal Arbitration Act FAQ Guide addressed a couple of key questions concerning Section 7 of the Federal Arbitration Act, which authorizes judicial enforcement of arbitral subpoenas that require non-party witnesses to attend and produce documents at arbitration  hearings. That instalment explained, among other things, how Section 7, construed together with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 45(c), authorize court enforcement of an arbitral subpoena that “command[s] a person to attend” a “hearing,” but “only if”: (a) “the person resides, is employed, or regularly transacts business in person[]” “within 100 miles” of the hearing. . . ; or (b) the. . . hearing is “within the state where the person resides, is employed, or regularly transacts business in person,” and then only if the person “is a party or a party’s officer[,]” or “is commanded to attend a trial and would not incur substantial expense.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 45(c); see 9 U.S.C. § 7.

That means that courts cannot enforce arbitral subpoenas that purport to compel witnesses outside the territorial boundaries of Fed. R. Civ. P. 45(c) to testify and produce documents at a hearing. And the majority of courts have ruled that Section 7 does not authorize arbitrators to issue judicially-enforceable document or deposition subpoenas, something that federal district courts can do in federal court litigation. (See here.)

But these days—as the COVID-19 pandemic changes the way we interact on a day-to-day basis—whether arbitrators can issue subpoenas requiring persons to appear for a video- or teleconference in lieu of a hearing is an important question, irrespective of whether those witnesses could be compelled to appear in person before the arbitrators under Fed. R. Civ. P. 45(c). To that question we now turn.

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COVID-19 Contract Performance Defenses under New York Law | Part II

April 14th, 2020 Contract Defenses, COVID-19 Considerations, COVID-19 Contract Defenses 1 Comment »
Contract Performance Defenses

Part I of “COVID-19 Contract Performance Defenses Under New York Law” discussed how New York law can, depending on the circumstances, provide a defense to breach of contract when the breach was necessitated by the COVID-19 shelter-in-place orders or other COVID-19-related considerations.

It discussed the impossibility defense, the effect of force majeure clauses, and the UCC commercial impracticability defense (which applies to contracts for the sale of goods).

This Part II discusses two additional, closely-related doctrines that may be relevant to excusing a COVID-19-necessitated breach: (a) frustration of purpose; and (b) illegality of performance.

Contract Performance Defenses

Frustration of Purpose

Under the impossibility doctrine, performance must be objectively impossible, and under the doctrine of commercial impracticability, impracticable. But under frustration of purpose doctrine, “[p]erformance remains possible but the expected value of performance to the party seeking to be excused has been destroyed by a fortuitous event, which supervenes to cause an actual but not literal failure of consideration.” Lloyd v. Murphy, 25 Cal.2d 48, 53 (1944) (en banc).

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Application to Confirm U.S.-Made Arbitration Award | A Checklist

March 27th, 2020 Awards, Confirmation of Awards, Consent to Confirmation, COVID-19 Considerations, FAA Chapter 1, FAA Chapter 2, Federal Arbitration Act Section 9, Petition or Application to Confirm Award No Comments »
Application to Confirm

Our most recent post discussed time the limits applicable to an application to confirm a U.S.-made arbitration award. It explained how awards falling under Chapter One of the Federal Arbitration Act are subject to a one-year limitation period while awards falling under Chapter Two are subject to a three-year period.

Mindful of how many of us would, if possible, like to spend at least a few minutes thinking of something other than the currently raging coronavirus pandemic, we’ve prepared a checklist of things one needs to consider and address before serving and filing a motion to confirm a U.S.-made award falling under Chapter One or Chapter Two of the Federal Arbitration Act. But I’m afraid the respite will be brief indeed, for it is important to consider the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the preparation, service, and filing of an application to confirm. This post accordingly concludes with a brief discussion about how those considerations bear on confirmation strategy.

This checklist is not legal advice, a substitute for legal advice, or a “do-it-yourself” guide, and should not be relied upon as such. It simply provides a broad-perspective outline of what is involved in planning for, preparing, and serving and filing an application to confirm.

If you are going to file an application to confirm an award, then you should engage an attorney with arbitration-law experience to represent you or your business. That person should, for a reasonable fee, be able to prepare and file the application and otherwise represent your interests in the process.

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