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Analysis of the U.S. Federal Courts' Separability Doctrines for Arbitration Clause Entered Into by the Mentally Incapacitated

정신적 무능력자가 체결한 중재약정에 관한 미국 연방법원의 분리가능성 법리의 분석

  • 신승남 (이화여자대학교 법학전문대학원)
  • Received : 2020.01.31
  • Accepted : 2020.02.26
  • Published : 2020.03.02

Abstract

Under the doctrine of separability, if the party did not specifically challenge the validity of the arbitration clause, then it is presumed valid, and arbitrators would still have authority to adjudicate disputes within the scope of the arbitration clause. Further, the Primerica and Spahr decisions address whether a court or an arbitrator should adjudicate a claim that a contract containing an arbitration clause is void ab initio due to mental incapacity. If the arbitration agreement is separable, as was found in Primerica, then the "making" of the agreement is not at issue when the challenge is directed at the entire contract and arbitrators may exercise authority. If an arbitration provision is not separable from the underlying contract, as in Spahr, a defense of mental incapacity necessarily goes against both the entire contract and the arbitration agreement, so the "making" of the agreement to arbitrate is at issue, and the claim is for courts to decide. Although no bright line rule can be established to deal with challenges of lack of mental capacity to an arbitration agreement, the rule in Prima Paint should not be extended to this defense. Extending the rule in Prima Paint would force an individual with a mental incapacity to elect between challenging the entire contract and challenging arbitration. Accordingly, there should be a special set of rules outside of the context of Prima Paint to address the situation of status-based defenses, specifically mental capacity defenses, to contracts containing arbitration provisions.

Acknowledgement

Supported by : 한국연구재단

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