Does Class Arbitration 'Change the Nature' of Arbitration? Stolt-Nielsen, AT&T and a Return to First Principles
78 Pages Posted: 22 Mar 2011 Last revised: 19 May 2011
Date Written: May 18, 2011
In Stolt-Nielsen S.A. v. AnimalFeeds International Corp., the United States Supreme Court stated that class arbitration “changes the nature of arbitration,” an idea that was also reflected in the Supreme Court’s subsequent decision in AT&T Mobility LLC v. Concepcion. Certainly class proceedings do not resemble the traditional view of arbitration as a swift, simple and pragmatic bilateral procedure with few witnesses, documents or formalities, but do these types of large-scale disputes violate the fundamental nature of the arbitral procedure? This article answers that question by considering the jurisprudential nature of arbitration and determining whether and to what extent class arbitration fails to meet the standards necessary for a process to qualify as “arbitration.” During the course of the discussion, the article analyzes the ways in which class arbitration differs from other forms of multiparty arbitration and investigates whether a form of “quasi-arbitration” is in the process of developing as a means of responding to the demands of class proceedings.
Keywords: Stolt-Nielsen, class arbitration, arbitration, AT&T
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