Sharing it with the class – a review of recent US Supreme Court decisions on class action arbitration

The US Supreme Court recently issued two key decisions regarding the enforceability of class arbitration waivers and arbitrators’ powers to interpret arbitration agreements. In American Express Co. v Italian Colors Restaurant, the Court found that a class arbitration waiver was enforceable even though it thwarted a claimant from pursuing a federal claim due to prohibitive costs. In Oxford Health Plans LLC v Sutter, the Court permitted class arbitration without addressing whether the arbitrator’s interpretation of the arbitration clause was correct. These rulings continue the pro-arbitration federal policy and emphasise that careful drafting of arbitration provisions remains of paramount importance to ensure that arbitrators and the courts effectuate the parties’ intent.

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