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.
ADR T 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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