In Allianz Insurance and Sirius International Insurance Corporation v Tonicstar Limited  EWCA Civ 434, the English Court of Appeal has reversed the decision of the High Court on whether a party-appointed arbitrator met the contractual requirements as to requisite experience. The Court of Appeal held that that an English QC with experience of insurance and reinsurance law was sufficient to comply with a contractual clause requiring arbitrators to have “experience of insurance and reinsurance”.
This decision is of particular interest as such challenges to arbitrators rarely come before the courts. It highlights once again the importance of drafting arbitration clauses clearly, particularly where parties require their arbitrators to possess certain qualifications or experience.
It has now been over a year since the Rana Plaza garment factory disaster in Dhaka, Bangladesh, which lead many businesses to initiate a careful audit of their supply chains. Retailers increasingly recognise the importance of working collaboratively with their suppliers, as well as the advantages of limiting their supply base to fewer, stronger suppliers with which they can maintain a close relationship. Now, more than ever, it is important for businesses to be able to make the termination process as fast and painless as possible where there are good reasons to bring the relationship to an end.
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.