On April 27, 2010, the United States Supreme Court decided a case that will have far-reaching implications for virtually all sectors within the arbitration industry, including the subject of this article-maritime arbitration. The question presented in Stolt-Nielsen v. AnimalFeeds International Corp. dealt with class arbitration and whether its imposition on parties whose arbitration clauses are silent on that issue is consistent with the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA). This article will primarily examine the history and viability of class arbitration-and arbitration in general-in the far more narrow context of maritime and the admiralty. Stolt-Nielsen provides an excellent backdrop against which to explore the more maritime-specific aspects of the topic, an endeavor not often undertaken by the Court or legal scholars. Part II will briefly expound on the facts before the Court in Stolt-Nielsen. Part III will explore the rich and fabled history of maritime law and dispute resolution, and the benefits derived from submitting maritime disputes to arbitration rather than litigation. Part IV will focus briefly on the history of class arbitration and recent trends in the field. Part V will attempt to synthesize the various arguments made by the parties as to whether class arbitration should apply in maritime disputes regardless of contractual silence or express inclusion. Part VI will conclude the article by expounding on the Court's decision and what Stolt-Nielsen could mean for the maritime industry as well as for arbitration in general.
Landon R. Schwob,
The Case Against Maritime Class Arbitration: A Brief Policy Argument,
11 Pepp. Disp. Resol. L.J.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.pepperdine.edu/drlj/vol11/iss3/9