Douglas Winter Authors Article in Daily Journal on Who Decides When a Class Arbitration is Acceptable
The Federal Arbitration Act and the California Arbitration Act reflect a public policy favoring arbitration, and as a result courts are increasingly called upon to determine whether a dispute is covered by an arbitration agreement. In the Daily Journal article, “Who decides if class arbitration is OK?” attorney Douglas D. Winter discusses the FAA’s broad enforcement of arbitration provisions in contracts.
Mr. Winter states, “Once the court finds that there is a valid agreement to arbitrate and there is no basis for its revocation or waiver, the court looks to the arbitration agreement itself to determine whether the parties agreed to arbitrate class claims…” Mr. Winter highlights several case examples determining whether the agreement allows the plaintiff to pursue class and representative claims in arbitration, or if it requires arbitration of claims on an individual basis only.
He advises that all practitioners carefully review their client’s arbitration agreement as if class claims are expressly authorized or prohibited, the nature of the ensuing arbitration should be readily ascertainable.
Though the potential implications of both the arbitrator’s interpretation and the court’s interpretation are noteworthy, “the question as to ‘who decides’ the class versus individual arbitration issue will be settled shortly in California,” he adds.