Court Refuses To Confirm 'Interim Decision' Arbitration Award Under The New York Convention

Author:Mr Benjamin E. Stearns
Profession:Carlton Fields
 
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An "Interim Decision" issued by three Rabbinical Court arbitrators based in New York was not "final" and therefore could not be confirmed in federal court pursuant to the United Nations Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (the "New York Convention"). Under the New York Convention, an award is "final" if it "resolves the rights and obligations of the parties definitively enough to preclude the need for further adjudication with respect to the issue submitted to arbitration. Thus, an award that finally and conclusively disposes of a 'separate and independent claim' may be confirmed even if it does not dispose of all the claims that were submitted to arbitration."

In this case, the Interim Decision issued by the Rabbinical Court was not confirmable because, although the award finally determined liability as to some of the issues presented, it did not finally determine the amount of damages flowing from that liability, but rather left open the possibility that the amount of damages awarded could change depending on evidence yet to be presented. Although there is some authority stating that the parties can agree to treat an arbitration panel's partial final determination as to certain issues as "final" for purposes of confirmation, those cases involved "express bifurcation of issues," which did not exist in this case. Instead, the parties had "merely consented to the issuance of such intermediate decisions." Their agreement was silent as to whether those intermediate decisions were to be treated as "final" with regard to the issues therein.

The court also found that the...

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