In a dispute concerning the appointment of an umpire in a reinsurance arbitration, the federal district court of Connecticut held that it, and not the parties, should appoint the umpire and appointed Robert M. Hall to serve on the arbitration panel.  In the matter of Arbitration between Glacier Reinsurance AG and Odyssey American Reinsurance Corp., No. 3:07CV00583 (D. Conn. June 27, 2007).

Glacier Reinsurance AG (“Glacier”) and Odyssey American Reinsurance Corporation (“Odyssey”) appointed arbitrators pursuant to the arbitration clause in the reinsurance contract at issue and proposed several candidates to the party-appointed arbitrators for consideration as umpire.  The arbitration clause further provided that the period for selection of the umpire could be extended by mutual consent of the parties and the parties agreed to extend the period to select the umpire to March 27.  Prior to the deadline, the parties nominated Mr. Hall and several other candidates to serve as umpire.

Subsequently, a dispute arose as to whether the parties had agreed to extend the time beyond March 27 to provide additional names for consideration as umpire.  Glacier nominated an additional candidate for umpire after the March 27 deadline and petitioned the court for an order appointing an umpire pursuant to 9 U.S.C. § 5.  Odyssey opposed Glacier’s motion, asserting that the nomination and selection of potential umpire candidates was closed as of March 27 and that Glacier had breached the reinsurance contract by interfering and impeding the ability of the party-appointed arbitrators to agree on an umpire from the original lot selected by the parties.  Odyssey also argued that to the extent the court did not enforce the March 27 umpire-selection deadline, both parties should be allowed to nominate additional candidates for consideration, not just Glacier.

The court did not address the parties’ arguments, instead appointing Mr. Hall as umpire because his “exposure to persons associated with the party on each side of the dispute makes him less likely than any of the other candidates or potential candidates to be partial to either party to the arbitration.”  In particular, the court noted that Mr. Hall had previously served as an arbitrator for each party and had also previously participated in unrelated matters with each party-appointed arbitrator.

Click here to review the District Court’s decision.