Kaplan 560

Breyer delivered the opinion of the Court. The case concerns several related disputes between, on one side, First Options of Chicago, Inc. MKIwhose trading account First Options cleared.

Kaplan 560

Argued March 22, Decided May 22, This case arose out of disputes centered on a "workout" agreement, embodied in four documents, which governs the "working out" of debts owed by respondents-Manuel Kaplan, his wife, and his wholly owned investment company, MK Investments, Inc.

MKI, which had signed the only workout document containing an arbitration agreement, submitted to arbitration, but the Kaplans, who had not signed that document, filed objections with the panel, denying that their disagreement with First Options was arbitrable. The District Court confirmed the award, but the Court of Appeals reversed.

Just as the arbitrability of the merits of a dispute depends upon whether the parties agreed to arbitrate that dispute, see, e. Shearson Lehman Hutton, Inc.

If not, then the court should decide the question independently. These two answers flow inexorably from the fact that arbitration is simply a matter of contract between the parties.

Kaplan 560

Courts generally should apply ordinary state-law principles governing contract formation in deciding whether such an agreement exists.

However, courts should not assume that the parties agreed to arbitrate arbitrability unless there is "clea[r] and unmistakabl[e]" evidence that they did so. Communications Workers, U.

First Options cannot show a clear agreement on the part of the Kaplans. This conclusion is supported by 1 an obvious explanation for their presence before the arbitrators i.

Courts of appeals should apply ordinary standards when reviewing district court decisions upholding arbitration awards, i. It is undesirable to make the law more complicated by proliferating special review standards without good reason.

The factbound question whether the Court of Appeals erred in its ultimate conclusion that the dispute was not arbitrable is beyond the scope of the questions this Court agreed to review.

Holzhauer argued the cause for petitioner. With him on the briefs were Timothy S. McDermott, and Kenneth E. With him on the brief for respondent Manuel Kaplan were Donald L. Koffman, and David G. Rosen filed a brief for respondent Carol Kaplan. In this case we consider two questions about how courts should review certain matters under the federal Arbitration Act, 9 U.

MKIwhose trading account First Options cleared. The disputes center on a "workout" agreement, embodied in four separate documents, which governs the "working out" of debts to First Options that MKI and the Kaplans incurred as a result of the October stock market crash. First Options then took control of, and liquidated, certain MKI assets; demanded immediate payment of the entire MKI debt; and insisted that the Kaplans personally pay any deficiency.

When its demands went unsatisfied, First Options sought arbitration by a panel of the Philadelphia Stock Exchange. Roth; and for the Philadelphia Stock Exchange, Inc.

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Kaswell filed a brief for the Securities Industry Association as amicus curiae. The Kaplans, however, who had not personally signed that document, denied that their disagreement with First Options was arbitrable and filed written objections to that effect with the arbitration panel.

The court confirmed the award. First, the Court of Appeals said that courts "should independently decide whether an arbitration panel has jurisdiction over the merits of any particular dispute. First Options asked us to decide whether this is so i. First Options argues that the Court of Appeals instead should have applied an "abuse of discretion" standard.

To understand just how narrow, consider three types of disagreement present in this case. That disagreement makes up the merits of the dispute.

Second, they disagree about whether they agreed to arbitrate the merits. That disagreement is about the arbitrability of the dispute. Third, they disagree about who should have the primary power to decide the second matter. Does that power belong primarily to the arbitrators because the court reviews their arbitrability decision deferentially or to the court because the court makes up its mind about arbitrability independently?october term, syllabus.

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First Options of Chicago, Inc. v. Kaplan, U.S. ().