Compelling Arbitration - Chapter 2 - Navigating Maritime Arbitration
Originally from Navigating Maritime Arbitration: The Experts Speak
Arbitration is designed to be an efficient and expeditious method of resolving disputes. This is especially so in the international arena, where many maritime disputes are resolved in arbitration. Arbitration is attractive to international litigants because, in the absence of an agreement to arbitrate, parties could be faced with a myriad of local court rules and procedures, jurisdictional hurdles to overcome, service of process and evidentiary challenges, and difficulties in the cross-border enforcement of a court judgment. A party’s refusal to arbitrate pursuant to the terms of a valid arbitration agreement threatens the laudable goals of arbitration. As the United States Supreme Court has stated: “Contracts to arbitrate are not to be avoided by allowing one party to ignore the contract and resort to the courts. Such a course could lead to prolonged litigation, one of the very risks the parties, by contracting for arbitration, sought to eliminate.”
Where a party to a maritime contract containing an agreement to arbitrate refuses to arbitrate, the U.S. Federal Arbitration Act (FAA), together with the United Nations Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards of 1958 (the “NY Convention”) and the Inter-American Convention on International Commercial Arbitration (the “Panama Convention”) provide the mechanisms to bring the recalcitrant party to the table. Because there is a strong policy in favor of arbitration in the United States, federal district courts do not hesitate to compel arbitration where a valid agreement exists. This chapter discusses the basic framework for seeking to compel arbitration of maritime disputes – in other words, the “Where, Who, What, When, and How” of compelling arbitration.