In this post, MARIJA SOBAT revisits the United States Supreme Court’s rationale in Stolt Nielsen and questions whether it had the authority to conduct the extensive review of the award, as it did.
In Stolt-Nielsen the United States Supreme Court granted a certiorari to decide whether imposing class arbitration on parties whose arbitration clause is silent on that issue is consistent with the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA). A brief background to the facts of the case can be found here and here. The Tribunal’s decision that the arbitration clause allowed for class arbitration was vacated by the District Court under the ground of “manifest disregard” of the law. The Court of Appeals overruled District Court’s decision and the Supreme Court granted a certiorari concluding that the question presented before the Court is ripe for review.
The Court found that the arbitration panel exceeded its powers by imposing its own policy instead of “identifying and applying a rule of decision derived from the FAA or either maritime or New York law.” The Court observed, “Rather than inquiring whether the FAA, maritime law, or New York law contains a “default rule” under which an arbitration clause is construed as allowing class arbitration in the absence of express consent, the panel proceeded as if it had the authority of a common-law court to develop what it viewed as the best rule to be applied in such situation.” Read the rest of this entry