The topic of whether an arbitrator or a court should decide the question of arbitrability has been the subject of long-standing debate among international scholars and practitioners. In First Options of Chicago Inc. v. Kaplan, the Supreme Court stated the general rule that “[c]ourts should not assume that the parties agreed to arbitrate arbitrability unless there is ‘clear and unmistakabl[e]’ evidence that they did so.” 514 U.S. 938. But what constitutes clear and unmistakable evidence of the intent to arbitrate arbitrability?
The U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware recently provided an example of an arbitration clause that contains such “clear and unmistakable” evidence to delegate questions of arbitrability to an arbitrator. In Nidec Corporation v. Seagate Technology LLC, Civ. Action No. 21-52 (D. Del. July 20, 2021), Nidec Corporation (“Nidec”) brought a patent infringement action against Seagate Technology LLC (“Seagate”) and other defendants. Seagate, relying on the arbitration clause in the parties’ agreement, moved to compel arbitration. Seagate argued that the arbitration clause requires the Court to delegate to an arbitrator the decision whether the agreement applies to the claims at issue. Seagate relied on the following language in the agreement:
If the parties are unable to resolve any dispute, controversy or claim arising out of or relating to this Agreement, including the formation, interpretation, breach or termination thereof, whether the dispute, controversy or claim asserted is able to be arbitrated … then either party will have the option to request that the dispute be finally determined by arbitration in accordance with the JAMS International Arbitration Rules.
Nidec argued that it only agreed to arbitrate disputes that arise under the agreement and Seagate should not be allowed to compel arbitration by declaring that each dispute between the parties is a dispute arising out of or relating to the agreement.
Continue Reading Delaware Federal Court Must Abide By The Parties Decision To Delegate The Arbitrability Of The Dispute To The Arbitrator Even If The Arbitration Agreement Is Irrelevant To The Dispute