An arbitration provision required that both parties appoint an arbitrator within 30 days of receipt of written notice from the other party requesting that it do so. Lloyd's appointed an arbitrator timely. The 30th day after receiving such notification for Argonaut fell on the Sunday before Labor Day, and when the appointment was not made by the end of Sunday, Lloyd's appointed a second arbitrtator on Labor Day. Argonaut appointed an arbitrator the following day, claiming that the time for its appointment was extended since its deadline fell on a Sunday, followed by a holiday. The Court disagreed, holding that the agreement to appoint within 30 days was binding, and upheld Lloyd's appointment of two arbitrators. Certain Underwriters at Lloyd's v. Argonaut Insurance. Co., Case No. 04-5852 (N.D. Ill. Aug. 8, 2006).
Arbitration Process Issues
In an unreported opinion, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed the action of a District Court that declined to become involved in how an arbitration would be conducted, including whether consolidating multiple arbitrations was appropriate. The Court followed Supreme Court precedent in holding that the courts should only decide “gateway issues” such as whether there was a valid agreement to arbitrate, leaving issues relating to arbitration procedure to the arbitrators. Certain Underwriters at Lloyds v. Cravens Dargan & Co., 2006 WL 2337959, Case No. 05-56154 (9th Cir. Aug. 14, 2006).
Construing the Wisconsin arbitration statute, the Wisconsin Supreme Court vacated an arbitration award in a dispute between Allstate Insurance Company and a policyholder on the basis that a party-appointed arbitrator demonstrated evident partiality. Borst v. Allstate Insurance Co., Case No. 2004 AP 2004 (Wisc. June 13, 2006). The arbitrator appointed by Allstate was an attorney who had a “substantial, ongoing attorney/client relationship with Allstate.” Even though the relationship was disclosed, and all parties were aware of the relationship going into the arbitration hearing, the Court found that disclosure and knowledge did not avoid the prohibition of such a relationship under Wisconsin law. The Court also strictly limited the permissible discovery depositions to those permitted by the Wisconsin statute.
At the request of the sole member of a Lloyd's syndicate that is in run-off, the London Commercial Court has issued an injunction to restrain a party to a UK arbitration from seeking to intervene in a related action pending in a United States District Court, in which it would seek to restrain the Claimant in the UK arbitration from proceeding with the UK arbitration. ,  EWHC 1730 (Queen's Bench Div. Commercial Court July 12, 2006). The Court held that the parties were obligated to arbitrate in the UK, as contractually agreed. This is an interesting example of a jurisdictional conflict between two countries.
The United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, in B. L. Harbert International, LLC v. Hercules Steel Co., Case No. 05-11153 (11th Cir. Feb. 28, 2006), in a non-reinsurance case, strongly endorsed the finality of arbitration under the Federal Arbitration Act, by affirming the confirmation of an arbitration award (and the denial of a motion to vacate the award). The Court obviously believed that the Appellant appealed merely because it disagreed with the arbitration decision. The Appellant contended that the arbitration award reflected a manifest disregard for the law, which the Court held was an exceptional circumstance requiring clear evidence that an arbitrator was conscious of the law and deliberately disregarded it. Concluding that the proof did not come close to satisfying this standard, the Court considered imposing sanctions on Appellant for the appeal, voicing a strong disapproval for continuing arbitration proceedings through post-award court challenges.