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Supreme Court Rules that a Non-Party to an International Arbitration Agreement is not precluded from Compelling Arbitration under the Domestic Laws

by Indraneel Gunjal

August 2020

Indraneel Gunjal

The US Supreme Court in GE Energy Power Conversion France SAS, Corp. v. Outokump Stainless USA, LLC, 140 S. Ct. 1637 (2020), unanimously ruled that the New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards is not incompatible with the domestic-law doctrines of equitable estoppel, through which non-party signatories could enforce international arbitration agreements.

The Court, however, did not specifically determine whether the non-party signatory in the case could enforce the arbitration provisions under the doctrine of equitable estoppel, or which body of law would govern that determination because it indicated that these questions could be addressed on remand. The Court clarified that it only ruled that the New York Convention is not in conflict with the enforcement of international arbitration agreements by non-signatories under the domestic-law equitable estoppel doctrines.

This judgment has, nevertheless, resolved a long-standing Circuit-split and overruled the legal principle that only a signatory to an international arbitration agreement can enforce its provisions, a principle which was previously followed in the Second, Third, Ninth, and Eleventh Circuits.

For more information, see here.

Indraneel Gunjal is an attorney from India and an advanced degree graduate from Stanford Law School, Class of 2020 with a specialization in International Economic Law, Business & Policy. Before joining Stanford, he worked with the Trade Policy Division of the Department of Commerce, Government of India where he was a member of the legal team representing India in its inter-state trade and investment disputes, Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations, and also tasked with formulating and reviewing its trade policy.


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