Wednesday, May 06, 2009, 9:03 PM

COA: Revised Uniform Arbitration Act Does Not Permit Interlocutory Appeals from Orders Compelling Arbitration

Yesterday the COA held that the Revised Uniform Arbitration Act (RUAA) does not allow interlocutory appeals from orders compelling arbitration. The case is Bullard v. Tall House Bldg. Co.

In this case the Bullards entered into a Building Agreement with Tall House that contained an arbitration provision. A dispute between the parties over defects in a house was arbitrated and an arbitration award was issued. The trial court vacated part of the arbitration award and issued an order compelling a new arbitration proceeding to resolve outstanding issues. On appeal Tall House argued that the order compelling arbitration should be reversed, and that its interlocutory appeal should be allowed because because a new arbitration proceeding would force it to endure added expense and delay and cause “potential for multiple inconsistent arbitration awards,” affecting its substantial rights.

The COA noted that the Revised Uniform Arbitration Act does not permit an immediate appeal of an order compelling arbitration, which Tall House cited as the primary cause for impairment of its substantial rights. The COA also found that any new arbitration award would not be inconsistent with the prior award because the new arbitration would only address unresolved issues, and that “avoiding the time and expense of trial is not a substantial right justifying immediate appeal.” The COA thus dismissed the appeal.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The COA released an unpublished opinion the same day which affirmed an order denying a motion to compel arbitration--Christopher Brown BS v Healthsoft, Inc., (08-1173). It seems to me like that opinion should have been published in light of the case mentioned above, (most notably because of the footnote found the Healthsoft case). It would help to have both opinions to compliment/compare. As far as the holding in Healthsoft case itself:

An original contract didn't contain an arbitration agreement. Subsequent contracts did. The first contract contained a clause with standard language prohibiting any modification other than by signed writing. The arbitration clauses in the later contracts contained standard language governing disputes "arising from or related to the agreement." The COA held that the boilerplate terms "or related to" were insufficient to constitute the type of written modification required by the first agreement (despite being both in writing and signed by each party). Since the suit arose under the first contract, the court would not enforce the arbitration agreements found in the later ones.

5:16 PM  

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