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第五巡回上诉法院裁定欺诈案件应当提交仲裁(美国案例)

更新时间:2017-09-30 11:30:58   张振安 临时仲裁ADA 编辑:lianluobu  点击次数:146次

美国第五巡回上诉法院维持了联邦地区法院的裁定,认为16亿美元的欺诈诉讼案应提交仲裁。在“Brittania-UNigeria, Ltd. v. Chevron USA Inc., et al., No.16-20690 (5th Cir., August 9,2017)”案中,一家尼日利亚石油公司Brittania-UChevron签署了作为投标文件(与几份石油租约有关)一部分的保密协议。保密协议包含一项仲裁条款,其中规定当事人之间的任何争议都应根据《联合国国际贸易法委员会仲裁规则》(以下简称“《UNCITRAL仲裁规则》”)通过均有约束力的仲裁解决;该条款还规定,仲裁员有权对涉及仲裁条款效力和管辖权的任何问题进行裁定。

尽管Brittania-U在投标中出价最高,但却没有获得任何石油开采租约。因此,这家尼日利亚企业(Brittania-U)在德克萨斯州法院对Chevron及其两名代理人提起诈骗诉讼。总部设在加利福尼亚的Chevron以多样性和联邦问题管辖权为由成功地将案件移送德克萨斯南区法院(以下简称“联邦地区法院”)审理。随后,Brittania-U提出一项动议,请求将案件移送回州法院。而Chevron及其代理人则提出了驳回起诉的动议。最终,联邦地区法院拒绝将争议移送回州法院,而是根据ChevronBrittania-U的保密协议支持将案件提交仲裁并裁定驳回起诉。

案件上诉到第五巡回法院后,Brittania-U辩称,将案件移送联邦地区法院是不恰当的,但这个主张没有得到支持。随后,Brittania-U辩解道,“联邦地区法院认为仲裁条款已将‘关口事项’(gatewayissues,如有关仲裁条款的有效性和可执行性)委托给仲裁解决并作出驳回起诉的裁定,这种做法是错误的。”第五巡回法院并未被上述主张说服并认为:

本案中仲裁条款采用《UNCITRAL仲裁规则》已经明确无误地具有可仲裁性该仲裁条款特别规定,“应按照《UNCITRAL仲裁规则》进行仲裁。”

在“Petrofrac”案(687 F.3d at 675)中,我们曾得出结论,对《美国仲裁协会仲裁规则》(以下简称“《AAA仲裁规则》”)的并入已经明确无误地表达了当事人的意图,即由仲裁员决定可仲裁性问题。对于“Petrofrac”案所涉及的问题,《AAA仲裁规则》规定,“仲裁员应有权对其管辖权包括对有关仲裁协议的存在、范围或有效性提出的异议进行裁定。法官在支持原裁定时表示,“我们支持大多数巡回法院的裁定。”

有三个巡回法院曾裁定,《UNCITRAL仲裁规则》也明确无误地具有可仲裁性(参见“ChevronCorp. v. Ecuador, 795 F.3d 200, 207-08 (D.C. Cir. 2015), cert. denied, 136 S.Ct. 2410 (2016)”案;“OracleAm., Inc. v. Myriad Group A.G., 724 F.3d 1069, 1073 (9th Cir. 2013)”案;和“Schneiderv. Kingdom of Thailand, 688 F.3d 68, 73-74 (2d Cir. 2012).”案)。虽然《UNCITRAL仲裁规则》在可仲裁性问题的规定上不如《AAA的规则》明确,即《UNCITRAL仲裁规则》未明确提及仲裁员对仲裁协议范围或有效性进行裁定的能力,但我们同意其他巡回法院的观点,《UNCITRAL仲裁规则》的并入通过授权仲裁员对其管辖权问题进行裁定,明确无误地将可仲裁性问题授权给仲裁员。(参见“Oracle Am.,724 F.3d at 1073”案,通过授权仲裁庭对其管辖权进行裁定,《UNCITRAL仲裁规则》明确将可仲裁性问题授权给仲裁员。)因此,地区法院将争议驳回令其提交仲裁的做法并无错误。

随后上诉法院裁定,仲裁协议也适用于Chevron的非签字代理人:

如“Contec”案一样,本案被告(其中一人为签名人,另外两人未签名)试图强制执行针对签名人Brittania-U的仲裁条款,虽然保密协议中没有明确规定是否约束非签名人,但该协议显然对Brittania-U具有约束力。因此,在该案中,仲裁协议的语言明确无误地把可仲裁性问题委托给仲裁员,甚至对于Brittania-UMoshiri Attia之间的争议也是如此。

因此,地方法院关于保密协议仲裁条款已经将可仲裁性问题委托给仲裁员的认定并无错误。最后,美国第五巡回上诉法院维持了地方法院支持仲裁并驳回诈骗起诉的裁定。

 

【英文版】 

Fifth Circuit Affirms Order Stating Question of Arbitrability Was Delegated to the Arbitratorin $1.6 Billion Oil Lease Dispute

By Beth Graham

 

The nation’s Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld a federal district court’s order stating a $1.6 billion fraud lawsuit must be arbitrated.  In Brittania-U Nigeria, Ltd. v. Chevron USAInc., et al., No.16-20690 (5th Cir., August 9, 2017), a Nigerian oil company,Brittania-U, signed a confidentiality agreement with Chevron as part of the bidding process related to the purchase of several oil leases.  The confidentiality agreement contained an arbitration provision which stated any disputes between the parties would be resolved through binding arbitration in accordance with the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law Arbitration Rules.  The arbitral provision also stated an arbitrator would decide any questions regarding validity and jurisdiction.

Brittania-U was not awarded any of the oil mining leases despite that the company submitted the highest bid.  As a result, the Nigerian business filed a fraud lawsuit against Chevron and two of the company’s agents in a Texas state court. California-based Chevron successfully sought removal to the Southern District of Texas based on both diversity and federal question jurisdiction.  Next, Brittania-U filed amotion to remand the case back to state court. In addition, Chevron and the company’s agents filed a motion to dismiss the case.  The Southern District of Texas ultimately declined to remand the dispute back to state court and instead dismissed the lawsuit in favor of arbitration based on the terms of the confidentiality agreement that was executed by Chevron and Brittania-U.

On appeal to the Fifth Circuit, Brittania-U unsuccessfully argued removal of the case to federal court was improper. After that, the appellate court was not persuaded by Brittania-U’s claim that “the district court erred in dismissing the case after concluding that the arbitration provision delegated ‘gateway issues,’ such as ‘the validity and enforcement’ of the arbitration provision.” The court stated:

Here,the arbitration provision’s adoption of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (“UNCITRAL”) Arbitration Rules clearly and unmistakably delegates arbitrability. The arbitration provision specifically states that “[t]he arbitration shall be conducted in accordance with [UNCITRAL] Arbitration Rules.”

In Petrofrac, 687 F.3d at 675, we concluded that incorporating rules from the American Arbitration Association (“AAA”) clearly and unmistakably expressed the parties’ intent to leave the question of arbitrability to an arbitrator. The AAA Rules at issue in Petrofrac stated that “[t]he arbitrator shall have the power to rule on his or her own jurisdiction, including any objections with respect to the existence, scope or validity of the arbitration agreement.” Id.(alteration in original). In coming to its holding, “[w]e agree[d] with most ofour sister circuits.” Id.

Three of our sister circuits have held that the language from the UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules also clearly and unmistakably delegates arbitrability. See Chevron Corp. v. Ecuador, 795 F.3d 200, 207-08 (D.C. Cir. 2015), cert. denied,136 S. Ct. 2410 (2016); Oracle Am., Inc. v. Myriad Group A.G., 724 F.3d 1069,1073 (9th Cir. 2013); Schneider v. Kingdom of Thailand, 688 F.3d 68, 73-74 (2dCir. 2012). Although the UNCITRAL Rules do not delegate arbitrability as obviously as the AAA Rules in that they do not mention explicitly the arbitrator’s ability to determine the scope or validity of the arbitration agreement, we nevertheless agree with the other circuits’ conclusions that incorporation of the UNCITRAL Rules clearly and unmistakably delegates arbitrability by granting the arbitrators authority to decide their own jurisdiction. See Oracle Am., 724 F.3d at 1073 (“By giving the arbitral tribunal the authority to decide its own jurisdiction, . . . the . . . UNCITRALrules vest the arbitrator with the apparent authority to decide questions of arbitrability.”). The district court therefore did not err in dismissing this dispute so that it may be arbitrated.

The Court of Appeals then ruled the arbitration agreement also applied to Chevron’s non-signatory agents:

Likein Contec, the Defendants here—a signatory and two nonsignatories—are attempting to enforce the arbitration provision against signatory Brittania-U.Although the confidentiality agreement does not explicitly state that it binds nonsignatories to the agreement, it does explicitly bind Brittania-U.Therefore, as in Contec, the language of the agreement clearly and unmistakably delegates arbitrability, even with regard to Brittania-U’s dispute with Moshiriand Attia.

Accordingly, the district court did not err in recognizing that the confidentiality agreement’s arbitration provision delegated the question of arbitrability tothe arbitrators.

Finally,the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed the lower court’s order dismissing the fraud lawsuit in favor of arbitration.