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AAA Files Amicus Brief in Stolt-Nielsen

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The American Arbitration Association (AAA) has filed an amicus curiae brief in Stolt-Nielsen SA v AnimalFeeds International Corp, a case pending before the US Supreme Court, in order to share its experience in administering class arbitrations and provide an overview of its class arbitration rules. Determined to help arbitrators make the types of determinations that would be required in class action arbitrations, the AAA proceeded to develop a set of class procedures designed to neither favor class arbitration nor oppose it. The AAA's goal was to provide a fair, efficient and effective mechanism for the resolution of class action arbitrations, to the extent permitted by the parties' contract.

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									ADR
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       AAA Files Amicus Brief in Stolt-Nielsen
          he American Arbitration As-
          sociation (AAA) has filed an
          amicus curiae brief in Stolt-
                                              news  BY CINDY FAZZI
                                             Ms. Fazzi is the editor of the Dispute
                                             Resolution Times (www.adr.org) and
                                                                                       arbitration.
                                                                                          The arbitration was ad hoc since no
                                                                                       organization administered the pro-
Nielsen S.A. v. AnimalFeeds Interna-                                                   ceeding. In compliance with AAA
tional Corp., a case pending before the      the book review editor of this journal.   Class Rule 3, the arbitrators proceed-
U.S. Supreme Court, in order to share                                                  ed to interpret the arbitration clauses
its experience in administering class                                                  in the “charter parties” (contracts used
arbitrations and provide an overview                                                   to charter a vessel) governing the rela-
of its class arbitration rules.                                                        tionship between AnimalFeeds and
   Stolt-Nielsen, an international mar-                                                Stolt-Nielsen. Both arbitration claus-
itime case, presents the question of                                                   es were broad and clearly mandated
“whether imposing class arbitration                                                    arbitration but neither said anything
on parties whose arbitration clauses                                                   about class arbitration.
are silent on that issue is consistent                                                    The arbitrators heard evidence and
with the Federal Arbitration Act.”                                                     briefing from both sides. Stolt-Niel-
   “The AAA has administered more                                                      sen contended that the silence on the
class arbitrations than any other orga-                                                issue of class arbitration reflected the
nization and has invested substantial                                                  parties’ intent not to allow class treat-
time, energy and thought on the sub-                                                   ment. AnimalFeeds argued the con-
ject. For these reasons, we thought it                                                 trary, relying on decisions in 21 Class
very important to share our experi-        U.S. SUPREME COURT                          Construction Awards issued under
ence with the Supreme Court,” said
Eric Tuchmann, the AAA’s general
                                              DEVELOPMENTS                             Rule 3, all of which found that the ar-
                                                                                       bitration clause’s silence about class
counsel. Consistent with the neutral       the 2nd Circuit reversed, holding that      actions did not preclude class arbitra-
position the AAA has taken on the          the parties’ transactions were gov-         tion. Stolt-Nielson countered that
subject of class actions and the related   erned by contracts with enforceable         none of these cases were international
question of class action waivers, the      agreements to arbitrate and that the        maritime cases and that parties to
AAA’s brief is filed on behalf of nei-     antitrust claims were arbitrable.           such cases have no expectation that
ther party, noted Tuchmann.                                                            arbitration will proceed on behalf of a
                                           The Class Arbitration Agreement             class.
Procedural Background                      and the Arbitration Agreements                 However, the arbitrators ruled in
   Stolt-Nielsen began as a class action      The parties then entered into an   
								
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