Mr. Fisher is on the staff of the New York Region of the American Arbitration Association, assigned to supervision of commercial arbitration cases. He will receive bis law degree from Fordham University Law School next year.
The issue that this paper seeks to resolve is whether an arbitrator, given broad authority by the arbitration clause in the parties' agreement, has the legal power to dissolve a partnership when one of the parties is unwilling to accept arbitration and has instead resorted to the courts to prevent arbitration. Dissolution is defined as "the change in the relation of the partners caused by any partner ceasing to be associated in the carrying on, as distinguished from the winding up, of the business." Dissolution occurs when the parties cease to function as partners viz-a-viz their relationship to one another. Termination occurs subsequent to dissolution and the "winding up" of the partnership, and concludes the business life of the partnership.
If an arbitrator is legally empowered to dissolve a partnership, such dissolution may result in more problems than those which the arbitrator sought to resolve. Because dissolution is not termination, the question of how the partnership is to be terminated subsequent to dissolution may arise. If provision for termination has been made in the partnership agreement there is no problem. However, if the agreement is silent on this matter, the parties may once again find themselves in litigation. Therefore, a secondary issue to be resolved is whether an arbitrator has the legal power to cause the "winding up" and then termination of the partnership once he has determined that the partnership should be dissolved.