Enforcement of Foreign Arbitration Agreements and Awards: Application of the New York Convention in the United States
28 Pages Posted: 7 Dec 2018
Date Written: July 2014
International commercial arbitration provides customized and efficient resolution for disputes arising out of transnational commerce. When arbitration occurs in states that have ratified the New York Convention, the process also offers enforceable outcomes even in states other than the one where the arbitration occurred. The United States ratified the New York Convention in 1970, and its courts overwhelmingly enforce both arbitration agreements and arbitral awards. There are exceptions, however, and American courts require the use of certain procedures.
This Article provides a brief survey of American courts’ recognition and enforcement of foreign arbitration agreements and arbitral awards. It begins by examining the extent of the reciprocity and commercial reservations made by the United States and the circumstances under which the Panama Convention preempts the New York Convention. Turning to the enforcement of arbitration agreements and clauses, the Article examines American courts’ interpretations of the Convention’s requirement of a signed agreement in writing and the circumstances that can make an arbitration agreement “null and void” or “incapable of being performed.” The Article also summarizes courts’ treatment of claims of waiver and lack of knowledge regarding the existence of arbitration clauses. Regarding American courts’ enforcement of arbitral awards, the Article addresses the following defenses explicitly provided by the Convention: inability to present the case, lack of proper notice, lack of binding effect upon the parties, and violation of public policy. The Article also considers other defenses that arise out of application of the U.S. Constitution and federal rules of procedure: lack of personal jurisdiction and forum non conveniens. Finally, the Article distinguishes the circumstances that permit each of the following judicial dispositions: vacatur of arbitral award, enforcement or refusal to enforce arbitral award, and adjournment or stay of arbitral award
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