GE Energy Power Conversion France SAS Corp. v. Outokumpu Stainless USA, LLC.

Summarized by:

  • Court: United States Supreme Court
  • Area(s) of Law: Contract Law
  • Date Filed: June 1, 2020
  • Case #: 18-1048
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: THOMAS. J., delivered the Court's unanimous opinion.
  • Full Text Opinion

"A written provision in any maritime transaction or a contract evidencing a transaction involving commerce to settle by arbitration a controversy thereafter arising out of such contract or transaction*** shall be valid, irrevocable, and enforceable, save upon such grounds as exist at law or in equity for the revocation of any contract." 9 USC §2.

Petitioner was a subcontractor to F.L. Industries, which contracted with ThyssenKrupp Stainless USA, including written arbitration clauses. ThyssenKrupp’s interests subsequently passed to Respondent who brought a breach of contract suit. The District Court dismissed the case and ordered arbitration. The Eleventh Circuit held that non-signatories cannot enforce an arbitration clause under the “Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards,” Art. II, June 10, 1958, 21 U.S.T. 2517, T.I.A.S. No. 6997 (“Convention”). Under 9 USC §2, arbitration clauses are enforceable unless they violate the law. Courts interpret treaties according to the text. See Medellin v. Texas, 552 U. S. 491, 506 (2008). Article II(3) of the “Convention” discusses the enforcement of arbitration clauses, where it states courts will order arbitration when the parties entered into an arbitration clause and one requests arbitration. The Court held that the Convention did not preclude a non-signatory from enforcing an arbitration clause. The Convention’s general requirement of writing did not extend to a signed arbitration clause where this text was not in reference to enforcing arbitration clauses. Because requirements that parties sign the arbitration clause do not appear in the four-corners of Article II, “silence is dispositive here” and the Convention created no rule with regard to whether non-signatories can enforce arbitration clauses. That matter should be resolved on state law grounds. REVERSED.

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